Daybreak: Psalms 98:1 through 101:8
“Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the Lord, and he answered them.” (Psalm 99:6)
When God’s people call upon Him in a time of need, He responds. A veteran pastor of the Apostolic Faith work in Norway, Odd Bruvoll, often testified about God’s answers to his prayers at various times in his life.
One such instance occurred after he was injured while working on a church project in Tromso. Brother Bruvoll and some of the men from the congregation were expanding the church there, and they needed to build a retaining wall against the neighbor’s house. He related, “I was working alone on a big scaffold, lifting blocks, when I slipped and fell, injuring my back. I was in terrible pain. X-rays were taken and it was found that my back was broken and the spinal cord and nerves were severely damaged. The doctors could do very little. They said I would always have a stiff back because it could not be repaired. I told my wife, Solveig, that I believed the Lord would heal me, but as time went on, the pain grew worse and worse, and it was difficult for me to sleep.
“The church people prayed for me many times but nothing seemed to help. Then one Sunday evening after almost everyone had gone home following the service, I felt I could not stand the pain anymore. Those who were still there anointed me and prayed for me again. Satan told me that they had prayed for me before and nothing had happened, and nothing would happen this time. But I heard a tender Voice saying, ‘You believe and you will see the glory of God.’ I held my hands up and said, ‘Lord, I believe I have been healed now.’ At that exact instant I was healed! It was as if I instantly received a brand new back. That was fifteen years ago, and I have never had pain in my back since. God did the job well.”
Like Moses, Aaron, Samuel, and the others referenced in our focus verse who “call upon his name,” Brother Bruvoll proved that God does answer prayer. That fact is substantiated by many Scriptures, as well as the personal experiences of believers through the ages of time. However, we should understand that the God of the universe is not under any obligation to say “yes” to every prayer. (That actually is a good thing, considering man’s lack of understanding and wisdom compared to God’s.) Sometimes He may not answer in the way we hope or expect. And while we all want immediate answers, there may be times when we must wait in faith before the Lord until the answer comes, as in Brother Bruvoll’s case.
God knows what is best for us in each circum-stance that we face. If we bring Him our petitions with true willingness to accept whatever answer He sends, we can be assured that He will answer according to His will.
Psalm 98, with its theme of God’s mercy and salvation, has the same opening and closing verses as Psalm 96. The author is not identified. The Hebrew word translated “psalm” in the title is mizmor, which literally means “to make music,” and probably indicates this psalm was to be sung with instrumental accompaniment. As in Psalm 96, reference is made to a “new song.” In this case, the theme of praise to the Lord is developed in ever-increasing dimensions: first it is to occur in Israel (verses 1-3a), then in all the earth (verses 3b-6), and finally in all of nature (verses 7-8).
The phrase “all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (verse 3), is an example of what Bible scholars term “the prophetic perfect” tense, which is used when the prophesied event is spoken of as having already happened. (Another example of this is found in Isaiah 9:6, where seven centuries before the advent of Christ, His birth is spoken of in the past tense.)
The instrument identified in verse 6 as a “cornet” is the shofar. It is translated in other Scriptures as a “trumpet” or “ram’s horn,” and was blown in a
variety of situations: to call worshipers to Jerusalem (Isaiah 27:13), during coronations (1 Kings 1:34), to signal an attack of the enemy (Judges 3:27), to announce important news (1 Samuel 13:3), and during holy celebrations such as the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9).
Psalm 99 is classified as a hymn to the God of holiness: it points to God’s holiness in power, in justice, and in mercy, with each section concluding with a statement about God’s holiness (verses 3, 5, and 9). Like other psalms in this grouping, the author is not cited.
The phrase “he sitteth between the cherubims” (verse 1) is an allusion to God’s throne. While royal thrones of the ancient east were usually made from wood overlaid with precious metals and inlaid with gems, God’s throne was portrayed as a living entity which is positioned above the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. “Cherubim” are divine or angelic beings who are involved in sacred work before God. They are generally described as winged creatures with feet and hands.
Similar to Psalm 95 in theme, Psalm 100 probably was sung by worshipers as they traveled in festive procession to the Temple. Some regard it as the doxology or concluding hymn of praise in the collection of royal psalms which begin with Psalm 95.
The “gates” and “courts” in verse 4 refer to God’s house, the place of public worship. The admonition to enter into His gates “with thanksgiving” may indicate that the worshipers brought a thanksgiving offering, and accompanied its presentation with praise to God. Three distinct reasons are given for worship: “he is God” (implying a renunciation of all other gods), “he that hath made us” (and thus we are dependent upon Him for everything), and “we are his people” (those who are called to be His own, and thus are the objects of His tender care).
Psalm 101 was written by David as a resolution of how he would conduct himself, his household, and his kingdom in the sight of God. It was likely composed around the time that he came to the throne, and states the overall policy that he planned to put in place. It also affirms David’s purpose to maintain moral integrity and to rule righteously.
The word translated perfect (verse 2) means “without a blemish or defect.” This term is also used in Scripture to describe God’s blameless character, suggesting that man should strive toward the goal of resembling God. In the following verses, David specified how he resolved to do this. He would not look with pleasure on things displeasing to God. When judging the people, he would not listen to any who slandered their neighbors or were proud. Within his household and government (those who “tarry in my sight”), he would not hire those who plotted or lied, but would seek out people who were upright and faithful. He would daily (an alternate translation of “early”) seek out and punish those who committed wicked acts within his kingdom.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- According to Psalm 99, what three leaders of Israel called upon God for guidance?
- In Psalm 100:3, the author pointed out that we did not give ourselves life. What bearing does this fact have on the debate in contemporary society over individual so-called “rights” such as suicide and abortion?
- As part of his plan to live a godly life, David said he would avoid temptation by setting no wicked thing before his eyes. What are some other ways we can avoid temptation?
Just as God answered the prayers of godly men of old, He will answer our prayers when we come to Him in faith and submission.