The 118th psalm is a lesson in Old Testament theology. It begins and closes with praise to God of his enduring love. It reflects those times of national difficulty when Yahweh provided the strength and courage for victory. He can be trusted when the nation is surrounded by enemy forces. Yaweh protects his people and, as we said, his love endures forever. That is all Israel needed to know and it remains true in the Christian era right up to that final day when eternity breaks through.
In Psalm 29 David call out to the heavenly beings to praise God in the mighty rainstorm that passes east to west from the waters of the Mediterranean sea, over the mountains of Lebanon, and on to the desert land of Syria. Throughout the storm the voice of God is heard in control. In the song, The Grand Old Story, the author writes, “I see your love of beauty in the sunset, I feel your awesome power in every storm.” Such awareness prompts the Psalmist to call on the angelic beings to lift their voices in praise to God, victorious over the broad expanse of the natural world.
Psalm 14 deals with the fool, his character and his destiny. To deny that God exists is less a philosophical stance as it is a world-view that sets the fool free from any sense of accountability. Where there is no ultimate authority there is no penalty for living as one chooses. The longing of the psalmist is that Israel, frustrated at the moment by the evil deeds of the fool, might re-gather in its native land where shouts of joy will fill the air.
It’s easy to thank God for his love and kindness when we aren’t facing some serious problem in life. But when disaster raises its ugly head – well, that’s another story. Psalm 107 reminds Israel of her times of national misfortune when she “wandered in the desert wasteland,” when the tribes were “prisoners suffering in iron chains,” and when they “suffered affliction because of their iniquities.” Humbled by God, Israel turned to him and he lifted them out of their distress. Hence the theme, “Give thanks to God for he is good,” keeps appearing throughout their history.
Trusting God is the central theme of Psalm 115. He rules from heaven above and all the various gods of this world are impotent by comparison. So put your trust in him, Israel. In Yahweh you will find protection and blessing.
Psalm 96 calls upon all nations of the earth to come and worship Yahweh. His mighty deeds have brought salvation and people everywhere are to worship him in the splendor of his righteousness. He rules the world with equity bringing joy to all. The psalm speaks of eschatological rule as well as his current reign over his people.
The two sections of Psalm 95 are quite distinct in tone. The first is a beautiful hymn of praise (1-7a) and the second a prophetic warning (7b-11). Some have suggested that what we have is two psalms that have somehow been joined. The greatness of God calls for worship that issues in obedience and the displeasure of God points ahead to a life of continuing exile – “They shall never enter the land where I give rest.”