Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 98

The Triumphal Entry

Isn’t it wonderful that in these psalms of the wilderness journey there is so much joy and song? As Christians, we are not surprised, for we have discovered that in the Lord we have so much to sing about; which is not dependent on the happenings of the moment, or the manufactured ecstasy we call entertainment.

As we have seen, this group of psalms are all looking forward to the coming King, and His reign of righteousness. This one prophetically anticipates His return from the battle in victory and His triumphal entry into Jerusalem to take up His throne.

You can imagine God’s people Israel, following those days of Great Tribulation, when they had hid in terror of their lives, now filled with joy. News is spreading fast through Jerusalem, from person to person, Christ has come in power and great glory and victory has been won.

The call then goes up: ‘a new song’ is needed, like a heroic epic ballad, to tell of these ‘marvellous things’ that have been ‘done’.

The Victory Poem

‘A Psalm. O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory. The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.’ (v1-3)

While this song is focused on the past, as the underlined phrases of the first three verses show, it is a new song. New victories have just been won, new people have been saved, new glories have been manifested, and the One who has done it all is Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is a future song that repentant Israel will one day sing, but for us, we have our own ‘new song’. This is a song that began the day we were saved, and continues to expand, as we learn more of our Lord’s glories and works. Day after day we can add another line of praise!

I will sing of my Redeemer
Philip Bliss

The Victory Parade

‘Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the LORD; for he cometh to judge (govern) the earth: with righteousness shall he judge (govern) the world, and the people with equity.’ (v4-9)

These words remind us of the triumphal entry of a great Warrior King, returning victorious from the battlefield: the joyful noise, fanfare of trumpets, choirs singing, spectators clapping, and a warm welcome to their hero and sovereign.

In this case, it’s not just people but the whole of creation coming together to welcome God’s Man, God’s Son, as Lord and King. They praise Him for a victory won: in this specific case, victory over the ungodly nations of the world. They rejoice that He is coming to reign in righteousness, peace and equity.

But, when we generally think of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, our thoughts go first to what we call Palm Sunday.

And they brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him (Jesus) thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest”. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.’ (Matt 21:7-11)

But what kind of triumphal entry was this really?

Oh, yes, crowds lined the streets, chanting praises to Christ. They had stretched their garments in the street, somewhat like a red carpet, and were waving palm branches jubilantly, but … note how the paragraph ends.

Those of Jerusalem itself were asking “who is this?”, and it wasn’t long before they showed their true heart. Just one week later, all of Jerusalem were crying out: “Away with Him! Crucify Him! We will not have this to reign over us!”

Indeed, Christ’s greatest victory had not yet happened, and would ensue as a direct result of the rejection just mentioned. Perhaps it is better to think of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as the pre-battle dignitaries – the warrior’s introduction to the battlefield.

Has there ever been such an introduction as this?

There is no ego here; no pride, arrogance or self-confidence. Yet, the One who could have had good reason to glory in His own ability, came in meekness! Instead of the white charger, he rode in lowliness upon ‘the ass and the colt’.

Of course, this was fitting to the character of the One who had come to save, and would “save now”, the meaning of the cry “hosanna”.

But, in our psalm, we find a very different characteristic, for we are looking forward to Christ’s coming, not in grace, but in glory. This time there is the white charger, and the sword, and ‘many crowns’.

‘And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’ (Rev 19:11-16)

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