Psalm 98

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2007-04-29 09:17.

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The Masoretic Text identifies this composition as a psalm, whereas the Septuagint also attributes it to David.

Like Psalm 96, this composition starts with the imperative to sing a new song to YHWH. The marvelous things he has done provide the reason for praising him with a new song, one highlighting new activity on his part. His wondrous deeds are remarkable acts in delivering his people from their enemies. This is indicated by the reference to his attaining “salvation” or deliverance with “his right hand” and the “arm of his holiness.” Both his hand and arm are representative of his power. As the holy God, his power is used in a holy or pure way in the cause of justice.

The salvation, deliverance, or triumph came to be extensively known, and the psalmist attributed this to YHWH. Before the eyes of the people of non-Israelite nations, YHWH revealed his righteousness. He had acted to uphold the highest standard of justice.

When coming to the aid of the “house of Israel,” he did so in remembrance of his steadfast love, compassionate care, or “mercy” (LXX) and his faithfulness or “truth” (LXX). As in the past, he revealed himself to be the loving and caring God who could be relied upon in time of distress, fulfilling his promise to rescue his people. Far and wide, “to the ends of the earth” or the land, people saw the salvation or deliverance God had brought about for the Israelites.

This deliverance was of such a nature that it could only be attributed to God, and this should, according to the words of the psalmist, prompt a joyous shout to YHWH from the inhabitants of “all the earth” or all the land. People everywhere should raise their voices in joyous song and sing praises to the accompaniment of the harp, trumpets, and the shofar or ram’s-horn trumpet.

Besides directing the imperative to the people to share in joyous praise before YHWH, the King, the psalmist called upon all creation to participate. The sea and all that fills it should roar, adding volume to the triumphant shout of praise. Everything and everyone dwelling on the habitable land and the land itself should share in letting praise resound. Rivers should “clap their hands,” and all together the mountains should sing for joy before YHWH. Possibly the “clapping of hands” refers to the sound of rapidly moving streams as waves crash over rocks and against the shore.

The reason for all creation to share in the joyous praise is that YHWH would be coming to render just judgment. “He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the habitable land with righteousness and peoples with uprightness.”


Regarding the divine name (YHWH), see Psalm 1.

In verse 3, the Septuagint reads, “He has remembered his mercy to Jacob, and his truth to the house of Israel.”

The final verse is nearly identical to the last verse of Psalm 96. In Psalm 96, “for he comes” is repeated, and the verse ends “with his truth” (not “with uprightness” or “with equity,” as Psalm 98 concludes).