O sing to the Lord . . . [Psalm 96]—Psalm 84
As we’ve continued our journey through the psalms, we have seen the pattern of contrasting both the life experience and the eternal destinies of the righteous and the wicked. The contrast is great, to say the least! In these verses, we’ll see the bar raised exponentially as the contrast is set for us, and it’s not between the wicked and the righteous but between the King of kings (the Lord of lords) and the false Gods and idols of the nations.
This psalm is presented also in 1 Chronicles 16, which helps us to establish it in context as the contrast between the false gods of the Canaanites and the true and living God of Israel. The Canaanites had many gods, who seemingly had domains of their own. Yamm was the god of the sea; Mot was the god of death; Lotan was a sea-monster god; and the chief god of the Canaanites was El, the “King of the Gods.” According to Canaanite mythology, El was attacked by Baal, the god of storms and fertility, and was overthrown. In the battle against Yamm, Mot, and Lotan, Baal was mortally wounded and resuscitated by his wife-sister, Anat. His victories and resuscitation made Baal, in the minds of the Canaanites, king of the gods. Yet the questions remained for them: Who could overthrow Baal? For how long would he reign?
It’s against this backdrop of historical and cultural thinking that the contrast between El, Baal, Mot, Yamm, and Lotan (and any other false god) can be seen in contrast to the true and living God. Keep this in mind as we visit the powerful words of this royal psalm in contrast to the many false gods worshiped around the world today.
There are prophetic elements to this psalm that point to a time when the King of kings and Lord of lords rules and reigns on the earth. Our psalm will remind us majestically that our God, the true and living God, is nothing like the false gods of the nations. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, who was and is and is to come! Let us begin now to prepare our hearts to meet the Lord Jesus Christ, soon, and very soon…
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