Beginning with Psalm 93, we enter a new phase in Book IV. Namely, we find selection of seven psalms (93–99) that herald the enthronement of Yahweh as king (Yahweh Melek) and one psalm (100) that brings us back to courts of the temple, where worship is renewed. Significantly, these psalms move from Israel’s exile to the hill of the Lord, and more decisively, these psalms show God himself returning to Zion and bringing his people with him.
If the arrangement of the psalms is to be taken into account, worship culminates when the people of God are brought into God’s temple, as he sits enthroned on his holy mountain. This second temple location—a point I suggested earlier this week—is seen in Psalm 100:4, as it states, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!” Gates and courts imply Israel’s return to the temple. Yet, even more explicitly, Psalm 99:9 reads, “Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain . . .” In this final verse of Psalm 99, we find the set up for Psalm 100.
In fact, as we can see in the graph below, every psalm in this section (Psalms 93–100) is “set up” by the last verse of the preceding verse. Such connections reinforce our confidence that these Psalms present a redemptive-historical narrative, and one that leads from Israel’s Babylonian Captivity (Ps. 89) to the restoration of worship in God’s temple (Ps. 100–106). Indeed, the Psalms display an incredible (chrono)logical ordering, and when we look at Psalms 93–100, we see this in the way each psalm prepares the way for the next, until the whole section tells how God is enthroned in Zion.
|The Last Verse . . .||. . . Sets Up the Next Psalm
Three Moses Psalms
These psalms announce that God will return his people from exile to the place of Sabbath rest.
The Lord reigns.
These words announce the enthronement of Yahweh and introduce the whole section.
5 Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O Lord, forevermore.
The psalm speaks of the Lord’s sovereign actions on behalf of his people. While it may appear that God’s rule is weak or absent, thus bringing into question his trustworthiness, Psalm 94 shows the trustworthiness of God.
23 He will bring back on them their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.
The announcement that God will justly wipe out his wicked enemies leads to rejoicing. In fact, this is the first of many places, where God’s justice leads to song.
11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”
Psalm 95 shifts dramatically from worship (vv. 1–6) to historical remembrance of Israel’s sins and God’s judgment (vv. 7–11). Whereas Psalm 94 might suggest God is for Israel and against all other nations; Psalm 95 indicates that God is for those who trust in him and against unbelievers—whether Jew or Gentile.
Now in Psalm 96, praise returns. God will not remain angry with his covenant people, and in response the faithful praise him for his salvation. Just like the second generation who entered the Promised Land, so God will bring salvation to a people whom he previously disciplined.
13 . . . before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
This Psalm also concludes with a word of judgment, and like before (Ps. 95), the announcement of judgment leads to praise. This time, the psalm begins with “The Lord reigns,” and like Psalm 93, the Lord’s enthronement is related to his righteous throne.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Psalm 98 begins with the second mention of a “new song.” It also responds to the command to “rejoice in the LORD” (97:12).
9 before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
Like Psalm 97, Psalm 99 begins with the declaration, “The LORD reigns,” and like before, it comes after a pronouncement of the Lord’s judgment (96:13; 98:9).
The enthronement of the Lord is established in righteousness and justice (Ps. 97:2) and it exalts the LORD above every other kingdom.
In Psalm 99, we find that what is foretold in Psalm 98:9, that God will judge the world with equity has now occurred (Ps. 99:4). And this establishment of the kingdom on Zion, leads to the praise in God’s temple.
9 Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!
Finally, the Lord has settled on Zion. From Psalm 90–99, have been anticipating this event—the enthronement of Yahweh. And now that the LORD is present on his holy mountain, it is time to invite the people to approach him, through the meditation of the priests (cf. Ps. 99:6) to worship in God’s courts.
How Psalms 93–100 Fit Into the Psalter
As it has often been observed, Book IV explains how the loss of David’s kingship (Psalm 89) is restored by God himself, as he comes to reign (93:1; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1). This is true in general, and as these psalms are read in order, it becomes clear that this is true in the specifics of these psalms too.
Whereas David and his sons once sat as the firstborn above all other kings (Ps. 89:27), now God himself will take the throne above the gods: “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (95:3). Psalms 93–100 trace this enthronement, and if this describes the return of Yahweh to Zion during the Second Temple, then it also prepares the way for a greater temple to come—namely, the Son of David, Jesus Christ, who would embody the presence of God. At the same time, because the God the Son would be born in the line of David, he would also restore the throne to David.
We find all of this recorded in the New Testament, as Jesus becomes the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18), thus proving that he is fullness of God in bodily form (Col. 1:19; 2:9). Yet, we don’t need to skip to the New Testament to see how redemptive history unfolds. With the light of the New Testament, we find the culmination of God’s redemption in the Psalms.
In Psalms 107–50, we move from the Second Temple to the final arrival of the Messiah, who is Yahweh Incarnate. We will have to look at these psalms another day, but for now, as we appreciate the order of Psalms 93–100, we have ongoing confidence to see that the arrangement of the Psalms records the redemptive story of God with his people. After the loss of David’s throne, God restores his people to himself in Jerusalem (Book IV), and then from that re-entry into the land, a greater new exodus is promised to all nations, as is told in Book V.
Truly, this is why studying the Psalms is so majestic. It covers the entirety of God’s redemptive plans and leads us to Christ. With that in mind, let’s keep pressing into the Psalms to see the connections and how those connections ultimately lead to Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds