On June 21, 1982, much of the world was abuzz with news of a royal birth. Prince William, son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana of Great Britain, had entered the world. Schoolchildren celebrated the news by singing “God Save the Queen,” and news bulletins interrupted televised soccer games. Thousands of people converged near Buckingham Palace for the official proclamation of the birth of the boy in line for the throne of the kingdom.
A royal birth is an occasion for celebration and proclamation, and as we focus on the birth of Jesus this Christmas, it’s the perfect time to see how this celebration and proclamation come together in Scripture.
Psalm 95 opens with an invitation to worship the Rock of our salvation in song and thanksgiving. The psalm then extols God’s vast creation, created through and for Christ (see Dec. 18). But not only did He make the universe, He made all of us. So the perfect response of the creature is to bow down before the Creator! Notice also how active this worship is—singing, shouting, thanking, making music, bowing, and kneeling!
The second part of the psalm (vv. 8–11) shifts to show the seriousness of failing to thank and worship to the Lord. When the wilderness generation grumbled against the Lord (see Num. 14), they missed out on God’s rest in the Promised Land. The psalmist urges his listeners to hear God’s voice “today” (v. 7)—he doesn’t want them to miss God’s blessing.
Psalm 96 extends Psalm 95 and emphasizes proclaiming the Lord’s goodness to the nations, a term describing those apart from God. Worshipers are exhorted to share His “marvelous deeds,” including His justice and judgment (v. 8). It might seem odd to link praise and judgment, but a moment’s thought about a world without justice should quickly draw us into praise of the perfectly just Lord. We can rejoice and be glad, knowing that the Lord will return and that justice will prevail as His truth and righteousness reign. A hopeless world needs to hear this proclamation!