All of us are familiar with this courtroom scene: The presiding judge enters the room, and an officer of the court says, “All rise for the judge!” At that command, everybody stands up.
I do not, however, remember ever witnessing a courtroom entrance at which everyone not only stood up, but also applauded the judge. And I have never seen people break out musical instruments to mark the occasion of the judge’s appearance.
But in Psalm 98, that is exactly what happens. The psalmist calls for the readers to recognize that the Lord is the Judge of all the earth. Because Christ will ultimately come and judge the whole world, what the writer calls the world to do will, indeed, come to pass one day.
When the Judge comes, the whole earth will shout with joy and break forth in song and praise (v 4). This will involve musical instruments. The psalm mentions the harp, trumpets, and a horn.
But it is not only people who will praise the Judge. Creation itself will join in. The seas will roar. All that is in them will join in the adulation (v 7). The rivers will “clap their hands,” and the hills will “be joyful” (v 8). No doubt, the psalmist has in mind what Paul will later write about creation. It, too, was impacted by mankind’s fall into sin and is groaning to be released from sin’s curse (Rom 8:19-21). The Judge will be the One who brings this about.
As I said, no judge has ever experienced such a reaction in his courtroom. The psalmist says the day is coming when One will. The psalm ends with the writer’s repeating this idea. The King is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world (v 9).
Why will He receive such adoration? Well, certainly it will be because of who He is. He is the Creator. He has redeemed His people. But there is more.
Psalm 98 emphasizes that He will be a righteous Judge (v 2). That is the note on which the psalm ends. The Judge will be righteous and will deal with everyone equitably (v 9).
If we take a minute to think about all that He will judge, we’ll see that this Judge will be busy. His courtroom will be full. He will judge the Man of Sin and the False Prophet. He will judge OT believers. He will judge NT believers. He will judge Tribulation believers. He will judge those who are alive at the end of the Tribulation. He will judge Satan and the fallen angels. He will judge all unbelievers of all time. In all of this, He will determine rewards and degrees of punishment for every person who has ever lived. To put it simply, as He Himself said, all judgment is given to Him (John 5:22). In light of all this judging, how incredible is it that He will not make a single error in judgment?
Aren’t you glad He will be the One doing this? We are so used to corruption and poor decisions from a judge’s bench. We rise for judges in our current world simply because the law requires it and because of their position. But on that day, it will be different. Even when somebody regrets not having lived in a way that resulted in greater rewards, he will agree that the Judge has done righteously. Every one of us will join with creation in giving praise and thanks that the righteous Judge has come. He will be praised because He is worthy.