By Russ Mitchell
Russ is the field director for One Challenge (OC International) in Romania – oci.ro.
Many consider Psalm 96 the missionary Psalm because of the powerful way that the Psalmist presents God’s global mission. I am surprised by how much we can glean from these thirteen verses about the mission mandate, the message bearer’s motivation and our message.
But there is still more. Let us look at this Psalm asking ourselves: what can we learn about the Psalmist himself? And then, how we can follow his example? Here are several observations:
The Psalmist knows Scripture.
The Psalmist is thoroughly familiar with Scripture. The ethos of Scripture oozes from him. It is a part of his being. It is in his DNA. He creatively weaves scriptural ideas into his message.
For example, when he speaks of “families of peoples” in verse 7, he lifts this expression from Genesis 12:3 (and perhaps Psalm 22:27) and inserts it into the text of Psalm 29:1-2. (For other examples of his use of Scripture compare Ps. 96:10 with Ps. 9:7, Ps. 96:13 with Ps. 9:8, Ps. 96:1 with Ps. 9:11, Ps. 96:13 with Ps. 98:9 as well as Psalms 97 and 98 in general.)
A mobilizer must have a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and be able to use them in making God and his purpose to bless all nations known. The Psalmist skillfully lays the biblical basis for mission – or, we might say, the missionary basis for the Bible!
The Psalmist knows God.
Not only does the Psalmist know Scripture, he knows the God to whom the Scriptures bear witness. He knows God’s character – his deeds – his purpose – his plan. He knows what God is up to. His knowledge is just not dry, dusty, disputable, debatable dogma.
Rather knowing God causes his soul to soar. It causes him to speak; it moves him to act.
The Psalmist loves God.
Not only does he know God, he loves God. He himself is a true worshipper. He sings to the Lord. He considers God most worthy of praise. He ascribes to him glory and strength. He worships in the splendor of holiness. He is passionate about God’s glory.
His love for God is also a great motivator – because of his love for God and his vision, he cannot keep this knowledge of God to himself. He desires others to know, love, serve and worship the Lord too. So he mobilizes others.
First he calls people to worship and then to make him known. Perhaps we attempt so little for God because we have too little love for God. A great love for God motivates us to attempt great deeds for God.
The Psalmist has vision.
A missionary psalm can be produced only by a person with missionary vision, and the Psalmist has it. He sees God’s purpose and plan to bless all nations, to be worshipped by all peoples and to reign over all the earth. He sees God’s purpose from Genesis to the consummation.
He sees the future as God ordains it. He sees all peoples worshiping the Lord. Having this end in view, he also understands what God’s people must do now: to go declare God’s glory to all peoples, telling of his wonderful deeds.
The Psalmist is a creative communicator.
This is poetry. This is a song. It’s got style. It’s got symmetry. It has rhythm and rhyme. The medium emphasizes the message. It’s memorable. It is well done. It is a piece of art. The Psalmist creatively communicates the mission vision in a way that impacts others.
The Psalmist is a writer.
He wrote down his thoughts. They have been transmitted from generation to generation for some three thousand years. Because it is a written message, its impact and influence transcend the Psalmist’s own place in space and time.
The Psalmist is humble.
He does not draw attention to himself. This Psalm is anonymous after all! His name is not associated with the Psalm – though many other Psalms have the author’s name appended. The author’s transparency highlights the fact that mission is about God and not about us.
The Psalmist is not out to draw attention to himself but to God and his purpose to be glorified by all peoples.
The Psalmist is an equipper.
The Psalmist not only tells people what to do. He also prepares them to declare the greatness of God by teaching the message that they have to share with the peoples.