I saw a humorous video once that depicted a leader of another nation. As many leaders do, he was dressed in his ceremonial uniform while he attended a national holiday event. For his particular country it was a military uniform. He certainly looked imposing and honored as he stood over all his military honor guard. And of course, what festive occasion wouldn’t be complete without music and fanfare? A large orchestral group had assembled to honor their leader of their country for attending their event. The leader stepped out onto a podium to watch and listen to the music which they were about to play in his honor and to welcome him to their holiday celebration. But once the music started to play you could hear a cacophony bursting from the orchestra. Either half of them were accidently playing the song in a different key or they were playing entirely off tune on purpose. It was a musical mess. The music sounded so terrible it would make anyone cringe.
I’m sure the leader was upset and embarrassed by it all. But that leader could do nothing but stand and pretend it was all alright. He surely knew there was something off, but couldn’t fix it himself. Perhaps he thought it would all resolve and come back into sync shortly. It never did. He was on camera and this was an important national holiday. He took it all in stride and pretended to smile. If you watch the video, you can’t help but laugh at the spectacle of a powerful ruler getting far less skillful of a fanfare than he thinks he deserves. Either someone made a big mistake and would lose their job, or some was trying to make a bold political statement as they welcomed their leader in a cringe-worthy way. I’m sure every nation has had times where it’s citizens or military bands were less than enthusiastic about playing music to honor their leader. That video clip is just one example of what might happen if those subject to a president or king or less than enthusiastic. What about the Great King over all the earth? How are we to honor our King, Jesus? Today we look at the invitation to make music to the Great King over all the earth. And we see just why we follow this Psalm’s invitation to make music to him.
To begin with this is not just a Psalm written for worship in the temple in Jerusalem. This Psalm begins with a call for all people clap, shout, and sing to God. He is not merely a monarch or president that should be honored by those within the bounds of a country. His reign is boundless. He is the “Great King over all the earth.” God rule extends into every nation, tribe, and language. This psalm is for everyone of all time. And it is speaking to everyone, including you.
This Great King over all doesn’t need a military honor guard or military band to make him seem important. “The Lord Most High is awesome.” The word awesome comes from the Hebrew “to be feared.” Our Lord is far above all rule and authority whether on earth or in the spiritual realm. He is above all angels and all powers. He is to be feared in such a way that he receives all respect and all honor. He is to be respected because he holds our lives and every moment in his hands. He created and sustains all things by his power. We must stand in awe of his greatness.
The call goes out for us all to respond with sounds and gestures of honor. “Clap your hands! Shout to God! Sing a loud song!” If a celebrity were to come to our town you can imagine it would draw attention. Many would clap, some would shout. If the governor were to visit you could picture it drawing a crowd. If the president were to make a visit for the Payson “parade of lights” this December, you could imagine a lot of people would show up. And even if someone didn’t want to clap you can be sure they’d at least stand up and pay attention. That’s because they know those are influential people who are in a position of power. How about standing in the presence of our holy God? Do we always rightly stand in awe of his greatness so that we clap, shout, and sing to him as we ought?
The Psalm gives us many more reasons to make music to him other than his awesome and most high position as our Great King. God does more than hold the highest position. He does the greatest things! His actions for us give us reason to praise him. He has extended his kingdom over the nations and subdued them. God did this, of course many times in history. He subdued every nation under the waters of the flood. He subdued the great nation of Egypt under the ten plagues and the red sea. He crushed the godless nations of Canaan during the time of the conquest of the land. When foreign nations sought to destroy Israel, God gave them victory time and time again. Our Great King has continued to extend his kingdom over all the earth. He has not conquered with sword or human strength. He has done it by the power of his Word. Jesus came and preached, “the kingdom of God is near.” He advanced his reign by his preaching and teaching. And then he showed his power over all our greatest enemies. The prince of this world, the devil, was crushed by Jesus. Jesus overcame all the devil’s temptations. He showed his power and drove out demons. And finally defeated the devil by the cross. By his death on the cross he also conquered our enemies of sin and death. He further carried out the growth of his kingdom as he sent his disciples to, “Make disciples of all nations.” He rules in the hearts of his people all around the world. We make music to our King Jesus because he has subdued all the nations under his rule, every enemy is crushed.
We can further make music to him because he has an inheritance for us all to receive the new heaven and earth. “He chooses our inheritance for us. It is the pride of Jacob, whom he loves.” For ancient Israel that inheritance included the land which he gave them on earth. But that was only a foreshadow of his greater promises. They were looking forward to a lasting kingdom. Our King Jesus has promised us perfect peace in the land we will inhabit forever in his new creation. He has promised us an inheritance that will last. We will live forever with him in his kingdom. We make music to our King Jesus because he has promised us an inheritance in his eternal kingdom!
We know our inheritance is good because our Great King who came down to fight for us did not remain in death. He rose to life and ascended into heaven. He is now in glory. We praise our ascended King. “God has ascended with a joyful shout. The LORD goes up with the sound of the ram’s horn.” God could never ascend unless he first comes down to us. Jesus came down from heaven to be our King. But he is now returned to his high position of glory. That’s why this Psalm has a five-fold call to make music to him for his ascension. Five times after this news of his ascension it says to make music to him. “Make music for God! Make music! Make music for our King! Make music! For God is the King of all the earth. Make music for him with a wise song.” We praise our King Jesus because he is ascended!
That music is made by all who belong to his kingdom through faith in him. Just as when a president or monarch is in a position of power it doesn’t matter whether you trust him or not, he is still in power. There are many who do not make music to Jesus as their King. They do not look to him as the one who is the Great King over all the earth. They refuse to acknowledge that he is the awesome king who is to be feared. Instead they fear other things and make music to lesser things and false gods. They sing about sexual immorality and they make music about their own little kingdoms. They shout aloud to the god of sports and stand up in the sporting arena but are embarrassed to shout aloud to the God of all the earth. They want all nations to be subdued to their way of life, but not to the God who rules over all. They hope to ascend themselves into glory, but don’t look to Jesus as their ascended Savior.
Maybe we don’t join in turning aside from worship of the Great King. But is the call to make music sometimes taken too lightly? I must admit that there have been times when the song used to praise our King was not my favorite style or preferred format. So my shouting became more muted and my clapping less enthusiastic. But how does that reflect on my King if I only sing if I like the style or format of praise to him? Isn’t he worthy of praise in every tongue, every culture, and every format and style of music? Isn’t the honor about him, and not about me and musical style?
Consider how you make music. It is done not just in the house of worship but in every aspect of our lives. Do you make music to God as the first thing you do every day when you wake? Do you make music to God and honor him even when the temporary rulers of this world are failing you? Do you make music to the God who conquered sin and death even as your body aches while it waits for the coming glory? There are many things that lead us to clap and shout. Is it what your child has accomplished? Is it what your favorite sports team has done? Is it what your favored political party has done? Is it your own little kingdom and all that you have and have done for yourself? Consider the things that you make the most noise about. Have some of the times you’ve made the most noise been in praise and honor of something other than God? We ought to sing, shout aloud, and clap our hands to our Great King as if every moment and every blessing depends on the kingdom he brings. Our very hands and hearts ought to burst out with the highest love and praise for the highest good we have from the highest One. “He is greatly exalted.” Is he by you?
His praise will continue. So he calls us all to join in that praise. Let it increase from today into eternity! The same Jesus who ascended into heaven in glory is now seated on his holy throne. “God reigns as king over the nations. God is seated on his holy throne.” Jesus, who once lowered himself to fight for us is now seated in glory with all power. He said, “all authority has been given to me.” Seated at the right hand of the Father he rules from his heavenly throne. There is nothing that can happen today without his working. And he rules to work all things for the good of his kingdom. As the pictures in Revelation present and the prophecies of Scripture foretell, he will reign on that throne forever and ever. We praise our King Jesus because he is seated on his holy throne!
Finally, the Psalm closes with the description of all those who belong to God. And those who have gathered to make music to their Savior God offer their praise “as the people of the God of Abraham.” It doesn’t matter what nation or ethnicity you come from. Nor which generation you were born and die in. You are the people of the God of Abraham through faith in Jesus. We praise our King Jesus because he has made us to be his own people.
This part of the Psalm is fulfilled as Jesus rules in the hearts of his people all around the world. They belong to him and praise him. And it will be fulfilled one day as our King comes again in glory and gathers up all his people. The people of the God of Abraham will praise him after he raises them back from the dust of death. They will be gathered and belong to the King forever. That is reason to praise our King Jesus!
Sometimes music and praise is denied to someone. Political rallies sometimes find that the music they play is copyrighted and the artist gives a request that they stop using their music. Because of copyright law not even the governor or the president can keep using the music after the artist refuses to give permission. No president or governor is so great that they deserve unreserved praise from everyone. But our God and King is! No one can deny him the claim to all honor. Our reasons for praising him are great. We praise him for his high position. We praise him for his work to fight all our enemies. He lowered himself to do this. We praise him for extending his kingdom and including us. We praise him for ascending back into heaven and for sitting at the Father’s right hand in a position of total power and authority. We praise him for gathering all his people together to make them his own. Make music to him. Shout. Sing. Clap. Make music to the Great and Exalted King, our awesome and ascended Lord, Jesus.