Home > Brandenburg, Evangelism, Missions, Music, Worship > Missions Exists Because Worship of God Doesn’t: Psalm 96

Missions Exists Because Worship of God Doesn’t: Psalm 96

January 30, 2008

The central theme of missions, Scripturally, is not the deep burden of God from His love for lost men, but a deeply and more important motive—His desire to be worshiped.  It also speaks of why men are saved and what it is to be lost.  To be lost is to not be able to worship and praise and glorify God, and men are saved to worship and praise and glorify God.  I know this is no headline, but God, not man, is the center of God’s universe.  It is not consistent with a Biblical approach to believe, teach, or practice missions as though man were the central focus of missions. The conclusion is that doxology, that is, glorifying God, is the proper motive of missions; rather than soteriology.

The primary motive of God in the salvation of lost men in Scripture is “for the sake of His name.” There are many verses to back this up, these are just a few:

  • 1 Samuel 12:22—”For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.”
  • Isaiah 48:9—”For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.”
  • Acts 15:14—”Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.”
  • Romans 1:5—”By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:”
  • Romans 9:17—”For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.”

There would be no reason for God to save people if He was not doing it for His glory, so that His name would be glorified, so that people would worship Him. God is concerned with the advancement of His glory. The Great Commission is the regaining of the authority of the Lord over all creation. His disciples obey His commission because He has all authority, and, therefore, out of recognition of His authority.

Spurgeon called Psalm 96 the “missionary hymn.” The children of Israel knew and were to have known that God had designs for all the children of men. It was always that through Abraham and his descendants God would bless all the families of the earth. No Jew could read this psalm and think that it was God’s will for them to remain exclusive. They were not to be of the world, but they were in the world, and they were to be multiplying the praise of God among men.


Sing It (vv. 1, 2a)

We are already being introduced to the evangelistic flavor by the phrase, “all the earth,” as this is the ultimate goal—to have the whole earth worshiping.  With worship at stake, national jealousies are dead, as a Jew invites a Gentile to become one of the band of true worshipers of God, so that all the earth may lift up one common psalm as with one heart and voice unto Jehovah.  All the earth Jehovah made, and all the earth should sing to Him.  As the sun shines in all lands, so all lands ought to sing to Him.

Here is another Scriptural instance when the Lord’s name is mentioned three times, not by coincidence, as we look for reasons, not dismiss them—there are three Persons in the Godhead and all of them are to be worshiped.  His name being blessed is His name, His fame, His character, and His revealed Word and will being delighted in and remembered with perpetual thanksgiving.

Shew It (vv. 2b, 3)

The Gospel is the clearest revelation of God, outshining providence and creation, and our praises should overflow in that direction, to where praise can’t help but move into evangelism, as they are directly related to the worship and glory of God.  People cannot be serious about praise if they are not serious about evangelism; praise without evangelism is hypocritical praise—”oh yes Lord, I love you and adore you where it is safe and easy with your people in the congregation, but get me in the world and I cannot shew your salvation.”

God wants His praise represented in our songs and in our sermons.  Those who themselves know what salvation means can bear witness that there is salvation in none other, and that in Him salvation to the uttermost is to be found.  God’s salvation is His glory, the word of the Gospel glorifies Him, and this should be published far and wide, until the most remote nations of the earth have known it.  Spurgeon writes, “All the nations need to hear of God’s marvellous works; and a really living, self-denying church would solemnly resolve that right speedily they all shall hear thereof.”  None are too degraded, none are too cultured, none are too savage, and none too refined to have the wonders of God declared among them by God’s people.



The Expansion of the Praise (v. 7a)

In the first six verses, we get ‘sing unto the Lord’ three times repeated, and here we begin seeing ‘give unto the Lord’ used in the same fashion—this is normal in Hebrew poetry—the sense that they were through the repetition drive the words into the soul and heart of the hearers.  Divided into tribes and families, we are called to in our courses and order to appear before Him and give Him honor.  God wants more families, more tribes, more nations—to expand the bounds of worship beyond Israel to all of these across the whole world.

The Essence of the Praise (v. 7b)

Then give Him glory and strength, that is, recognize the glory and power of Jehovah.  Only He is glorious and He is strong, so give Him that due, families, tribes, and nations of the whole world.  Nations that count themselves to be famous and mighty are to cease their boastings, and the monarchs or kings of the earth are to humble themselves before the only King, the only Potentate.

The Explanation for the Praise (vv. 8, 9)

         Its Deservedness (v. 8a)

          Its Description (v. 8b)

          Its Dignity (v. 9a)

Someone has said beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which is, of course, subjective, but there is objective beauty, defined beauty, and to God, beauty is holiness.  A beautiful painting is one that would reflect the character and attributes of God, and a beautiful song is one that would reflect those attributes—beauty is not subjective, but definitive to God.  Worshiping in the beauty of holiness would be worship that is in keeping with His holiness, which would not be slovenly, sinful, and superficial, but would be reverent, sincere, earnest, and pure in heart.  God only receives holy worshipers offering Him majestic, separated praise; not something that would smack of the evil philosophies of the world, but of Biblical truth.

          Its Devotion (v. 9b)

Fear before Him is ‘tremble’ in the original—it expresses the highest degree of awe, so that the body is affected in the way of trembling.  Spurgeon said, “There is a sacred trembling which is quite consistent with joy, the heart may even quiver with an awful excess of delight.”  The sight of the Lord to John on the isle of Patmos, when God revealed to Him the book of Revelation was to fall at his feet as dead.


The way that we are going to multiply praise is to, as it puts it here in v. 10, “say among the heathen.”  We have to boldly open our mouth and tell unsaved people what they need to hear.  The means of multiplying praise is to say the words that need to be said from the Word of God that will result in that person being saved.

We have an example of, and some suitable words, recorded here beginning at the middle of v. 10 and going down to the end of the chapter.  How can you say among the heathen if you don’t go to them or get among them, and then once you are with them or among them, you don’t say what is appropriate in the way of testimony?


The Reign of the Lord (v. 10b-13a)

The Reckoning of the Lord (v. 13b)

We have a reckoning coming, where we will meet our Maker.  He will judge with righteousness and truth, and only those that match up to His righteousness and truth will be able to be a part and enter in. People need to get in now on that kingdom in order to receive it.

  • John 3:3—”Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
  • Colossians 1:12-14—”Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:”
  • Matthew 5:3, 5—”Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”

To become within that worshiping group for the future kingdom, a soul must submit to Him now by faith, receive Christ, and become a citizen of that kingdom.

  1. January 30, 2008 at 10:43 am


    Very good meaty theological stuff! Isn’t this akin to the Ephesian church losing their first love? Do you agree that they forgot why they were doing what they were doing, and they should have been doing it out of a passion for God and his glory?

    Our motivation for missions, that of glorifying God among the nations, and winning the lost to glorify God, should affect our methodology too. A numbers-game gospel does not glorify God, like actually winning people and seeing God’s transform them into worshipers of the True God. Sounds like what Jesus did in John 4.

    As an aside, I really can stomach John Piper’s stuff. He comes off as being the first to discover these ideas, when they have been in the Bible all along. A fellow missionary got irate with me when I wasn’t impressed with a John Piper book that he sent me.

  2. Zo
    January 30, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    WOW! That was great! I thought there were only a few christians that believed and thought this way. I had not heard this theological viewpoint from baptists….up until now. I’ve been attending baptist churches for the past about 20 years now, and never have I heard this type of God centered evangelism/worship/perspective/worldview/purpose before in their sermons. They do have many of the essential right, but this has been missing…….
    The Glory of God is present throughout the bible, especially the Psalms, but rarely ever expounded on in many baptist churches…or maybe any churches for that matter. Most of the emphasis has been man centered. “Men need to be saved because they are going to hell” Which is absolutely true and should deeply concern us, however, bigger and greater than that is that “Men should be saved to glorify and prasie God whom deserves it because of who He is, what He has done, and what He promises throughout eternity”.
    I stumbled onto this biblical theological viewpoint in a sermon called “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” by Paris Reidhead. This is a must hear. Paul Washer also greatly exalts the Glory of God in his teachings. And of course so does John Piper. I may not totally agree with everything they say, but they sure do have this vitally important doctrine right.
    Thank you for posting this!!!! “May Our Great God recieve the Glory, Honor and Praise He so richly deserves and May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward for his suffering!”
    I cant wait for the day when all creation sets their eyes on God and glorifies Him, praises Him and worships Him with every fiber of their being!!!!!!

  3. John Warren
    January 30, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Good, Good.

  4. February 1, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Commenters, thanks. I just arrived home from some time with my wife, which is important. We were out of internet connection, even by WIFI. Our room had it, but it was such an incredible charge that I thought it would be poor stewardship. I worship God in the gospel every week. I want him to be praised through my evangelism.

    I do believe, Don, that this is the emphasis of Scripture. The purpose is the glory of God. Thanks Zo. Thanks John.

    Piper was mentioned twice. I haven’t read him much. I have preached through at least 100 of the psalms, however. I didn’t include everything of Psalm 96 here because it would have been too long. I edited sermon notes for this from the time on Sunday mornings when we went through the psalms. I also have read the puritans, which I would add a disclaimer, if someone lacks discernment in the reading of them.

    John PIper often mentions the glory of God and I believe he is convicted about that, but he doesn’t represent the glory of God with his lack of separation both in the worship of his church and in his practice ecclesiologically. He has many problems and perhaps we should do a month exposing new-evangelicals, just like we did with Hyles.

  5. February 1, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Ah hhaa….you’ve been reading John Piper! and the Bible. 🙂

  6. February 2, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Piper was probably mentioned because the title of this post uses language almost identical to that used by Piper in his book on missions: Let the Nations Be Glad.

  7. February 2, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Thanks Bob. I”ve never read the book or even heard of it. It doesn’t surprise me for a number of different reasons. However, I have heard or read from several different people the essence of this title. When I preached through Psalm 96, it came to mind as I read the Psalm first and then prepared it.

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