Psalm 96 is like a lot of passages of the Bible—this chapter isn’t simply written about a single topic. Psalm 96 references our need to sing to the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 96:1-2), evangelize the nations (Psalm 96:2-3), fear the Lord (Psalm 96:4), recognize Him as Creator and everything else as an idol (Psalm 96:5), and how we are to come to Him to worship (Psalm 96:8-9). The Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of all honor and praise and glory for all of these things. I hope you see that clearly when you read Psalm 96!
But if Psalm 96 is a symphony, we come to the crescendo in Psalm 96:10. The zenith —
Yahweh reigns…and He will judge.
But we aren’t simply told that Yahweh reigns. We already know that He is God above all other gods and that everything else is an idol. We have seen His strength and beauty exalted in this chapter and we can see how those things point to Him as Creator. If God simply wanted to repeat Himself (which he does frequently due to our dullness), He could have done that here…but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David commands the child of God reading Psalm 96:10 that he is to “say among the nations” that Yahweh reigns.
New Testament revelation tells us that it is Jesus Christ himself who is reigning at the right hand of the Father (1 Peter 3:22, Hebrews 2:7-8). We are called to proclaim the gospel to all nations. And the gospel is the good news that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures and that he was buried and raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). But part of what we proclaim when we proclaim the gospel is that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). In the great resurrection chapter, (1 Corinthians 15), there are a few verses that come after the proclamation of the death, burial, and resurrection that go hand-in-hand with Christ’s accomplishment on the cross and the empty tomb.
1 Corinthians 15:25-26 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Jesus Christ is the ruler of all and part of what we proclaim to the nations and to lost sinners is His lordship. This is part and parcel of the gospel and salvation. That is, no one is saved who does not believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.
How to Proclaim that Jesus Reigns
There are many ways to evangelize (although all evangelism includes communicating with words what the gospel is), and I don’t intend to rehash one-on-one conversations, tracts, preaching, and things like that as ways to teach sinners about Christ. What I want to challenge you about here is that all of your actions communicate something about what you believe. That is, everything you do communicates to those watching you what you believe, and whom you follow.
For example, if you are an angry or bitter person at work, you are communicating something to your coworkers. The same applies to your family. You may have “preached” the gospel to them…and the gospel is the power of God unto salvation…so yeah, technically people can get saved from that. But what you are communicating to your coworkers or family is that you don’t really take seriously that Jesus is the ruler or lord of your life. Your master is anger or bitterness and the passages of scripture about putting these things away mean very little to you (Ephesians 4:31; Hebrews 12:15). You tell people that Jesus reigns with your lips or your Christian t-shirt, but your actions show that His Word has no authority in your life…thus, neither does He. The same could apply to any number of respectable sins that we let rule us like Cain (Genesis 4:7).
The world offers all sorts of worthless idols to us, and when we participate in these worldly activities we tell onlookers whom we serve. Do you find Jesus all-sufficient for your needs? Are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge found in Him for you (Colossians 2:3)? Do you watch pornographic trash like Game of Thrones and justify yourself? When you have a problem, do you seek help from worldly counselors, psychology, the latest fad, or some other unbiblical notion of how to deal with sin? Do you miss Sunday worship for sporting events? Keep your mouth shut when evil abounds in your neighborhood to keep the peace? Do you laugh at or just be quiet around racist jokes or other coarse jesting which should not be named among us?
Christians ought to be peculiar and distinct from the world—not because our ladies wear long, homemade, denim skirts, or because our men shave our beards differently from the heathen. Our peculiarity doesn’t derive from avoiding piercings or any number of outward appearance modifications we think we can make.
Christians make themselves distinct from the world by striving in all ways and at all times to live in obedience to and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as sovereign over all things. Christians show themselves to be other-worldly (1 John 5:19) through our shunning of the ideologies and ways of the world that are contrary to faith in Christ and His Lordship (Colossians 2:8-10). Pray to God that He would open your eyes to wondrous things out of His law and that you would begin to see how you indulge your flesh in less obvious ways.
Head of the Church
Of course, if Jesus Christ is head over all things He is also head of His church, His body…
Ephesians 1:22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
But God the Holy Spirit saw fit to specifically tell us about Christ’s headship over the church. By deduction, it seems that this was necessary because of our propensity to even run the local church the way the world would have us. Doctrines of demons slip in slowly over time and through seemingly good teachers. Men build good reputations for themselves over years of ministry whom Satan then uses to introduce destructive heresies.
Is this not the testimony of Judas? Which of the Twelve suspected Judas to be the betrayer?
John 13:21-22 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.
We all fancy ourselves as being the person who would have said, “Oh I bet it’s Judas Iscariot,” but by our own willful blindness and the deceptiveness of sin I think we all would have failed to see what was plainly before the eyes of our all-wise Lord Jesus. So how can we protect ourselves and our church from future deception of this sort: by sticking to the Word of God.
Isaiah 8:20 To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.
When we act like Bereans and take every thought captive to obey Christ and His revealed Word, we insulate ourselves against attacks of the spiritual forces in the heavenly places and seek to preserve God’s church by the means He has provided. We also proclaim to the nations and to our local congregation that Jesus reigns, and not the opinions of men, even men who we believe to be faithful stewards of the deposit entrusted to them. Jesus is the ONLY head of the church, and we would do well to remind ourselves of that and leaders would be wise to keep that as the focus of the church’s mission.
In part 1 of this series, I challenged anyone reading this to commit to memorizing Psalm 96. I hope if you have not started that endeavor you will start now. If you want my recommended smartphone app for Bible memory: here is a 20% discount code for it.
If you want to hear the sermon I preached on this great Psalm, you can hear it here on my Be A Berean podcast.
See all posts in the Psalm 96 (Yahweh Reigns) series: