Author - Dr Allan McKinnon - Principal, Tilsley College
Allan is Tilsley College Principal. He and his wife, Jacqui, served in Tanzania, East Africa for seventeen years at Moshi Christian Children’s Centre and Berea Bible College. Allan is an elder at Greenview Church and is leading a small team exploring church planting in Darnley – a southwest suburb of Glasgow. Jacqui and Allan have three grown children and seven grandchildren.
Nowadays many of us use playlists on our phones or tablets to gather our favourite tunes in one place and then take them with us wherever we go. Let me recommend some great ‘tunes’ from the Psalms – Psalm 93-100 are known as the Royal (or kingly) Psalms – the playlist might be entitled ‘The Lord reigns’.
It’s funny how some song lyrics just stick with you. They go around in your head long after the sing has been sung. Psalm 96 may do that for us as we read it – what a shame we don’t know the tune! Yet how can we escape these refrains: Sing to the LORD, sing to the LORD, sing to the LORD (v1-3). The Psalmist also exorts us three times to ‘ascribe to the LORD’; ascribe to the LORD greatness and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due to his name. The call of the Psalm is to worship the LORD – literally to ‘bow down’ before him, the Holy One who reigns supreme.
Yet sometimes a song that stays with us has a message that stands out, and this Psalm is no different. Have you noticed the incredibly generous invitation of this Psalm? The breadth of the summons to such worship extends internationally to the ends of the earth. All the earth (v1); among the nations (v3); all peoples (v3); families of nations (v7); the earth and all that is in it (v11). This is another striking note in the Psalm song. It is remarkable that one of the most common commands of the Bible is ‘Sing’! Specifically, here, we are ‘to sing a new song’.
The breadth of the summons to such worship extends internationally to the ends of the earth.
This is not a new song in terms of content – Israel had been singing these kind of songs with this kind of content ever since the Lord had done ‘marvellous deeds’ and wrought ‘his salvation’ in their rescue from Egyptian slavery. Neither is it a new song because we’ve come up with a new melody line! No, the song is new because it is sung by a different choir and that choir is gathered not simply from Israel, but from the nations of the world. They too can respond to the generous invitation of the great King of all the earth to come and experience his salvation and his marvellous deeds for themselves – and thus to sing his praise in this new song.
Praise was never intended to be restricted to Israel’s Levite choirs, but to be extended to all nations of the world. “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise” (v4). This Psalm tells us who should sing – all the earth. It tells us why we should sing – to proclaim his salvation day after day. It tells us where we are to sing – we are to declare his glory among the nations.
So, let’s be singing these songs this summer for the glory of God and the blessing of the nations.