Oh sing to the Lᴏʀᴅ a new song; sing to the Lᴏʀᴅ, all the earth! Sing to the Lᴏʀᴅ, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:1–3)
The Lᴏʀᴅ reigns.
That is the theme of Psalm 96 and the ones surrounding it (Psalms 93–100). Our God, the Lᴏʀᴅ, is great and therefore he is “greatly to be praised” (Psalm 96:4). The first three verses of this psalm begin with repeated calls to worship: “sing to the Lᴏʀᴅ,” “bless his name,” “tell of his salvation,” “declare his glory,” “[declare] his marvelous works.”
Put simply, we are called to praise him. But what does that mean? We are exhorted to praise God, but how?
So Use Words
Praise, as the Bible shows us, is more than a smile. Praise includes words. We are called to say things — specific things — about God and his works.
We are called to sing to him, to lift up lyrics of love and adoration, to consider what he’s done, to meditate over his works. We are led to remember his mighty acts, how he created the world with his voice, how he rescued Israel from slavery with signs and wonders, how he faithfully endured Israel’s faithlessness, how he relentlessly kept his promise with unshakable love, how he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to live and die in our place, to take the punishment we deserved and bring us into everlasting fellowship with himself. We remember his works throughout the storyline of Scripture and we turn them into words of praise.
But we also remember what he has done in our own lives. We consider the wonder that he has never, ever left us. He has never forsaken us, and he never will. He is faithful. He is strong and good and he has sealed his strength and goodness for us by his new covenant in Christ, our King. He holds us now and he will never let us go. So we turn our gaze on these things in humble awe, as his rescued ones, and we turn them into a joyful noise of praise.
To All Peoples
But it’s not just that. There is a relational aspect to this praise. We are to praise God among other people. We are to perform this praise among all the nations. Our delight in God’s glory goes global because he is a global God. He is the Lᴏʀᴅ who reigns over all.
The context of our praise — all peoples — is also a truth that makes God praiseworthy. Right now, this very moment, there is one God who rules the entire universe. His name is the Lᴏʀᴅ. From Beijing to Berlin, Nepal to New York, Mumbai to Minneapolis, Tokyo to Toronto, one God reigns and one God is worthy of all praise everywhere. He is holy like that. Declaring God’s glory is not a contained event. There are no borders to his doxology.
The act of praising God, therefore, can’t be separated from the work of advancing his gospel in all the earth. There is a dysfunctional disconnect if we sing of God’s glory in a worship service but clamp down on its reach throughout the world.
He Is Holy
To praise the God who saves is to praise the God who is able to save anyone — from our neighbor a couple doors down to the big-business professional in Hong Kong to the impoverished farmer in East Africa. We are called to lift our words of praise with “all the earth,” to declare his glory “among the nations,” and to tell of his marvelous works “among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:1–3).
To praise this sovereign God is to join in his work of being known by all. True praise has that deepening, expanding effect. We praise God now as we declare his glory among the nations so that others might declare his glory among the nations — and we keep doing this until the day when the whole earth is covered with his glory as the waters cover the sea.
And then we will say again, for all eternity, oh praise him!