O sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wonderful things . . . The Lord has made known His salvation . . . He has remembered His lovingkindness. (Psalm 98:1–3, NASB)
This psalm calls God’s people to exuberant praise (98:1). The reason—His deeds (98:1) are reflective of His redemptive mercies (98:2) and faithfulness to His promises (98:3). The expression of our delight in the mercies of God should be with shouts (98:4, 6) and singing (98:1, 5) with musical accompaniment (98:5–6). Not only so, but nature is called to join us—the sea to resound (98:7), the rivers to clap (98:8a), and the mountains to sing (98:8b). The song ends where it began (98:9), with mention of the deeds of God, dealing with His people in rectitude and justice.
What is of interest in this special season, our celebration of the coming of our Lord Jesus, is the connection of Psalm 98 to the birth narratives found in Luke’s Gospel. Mary’s confirmation that she would have a miraculously conceived son (Luke 1:34–35) was to be found in Elizabeth’s pregnancy (1:36). Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s acclamation that through her “my Lord shall come to me” (1:43) was praise (1:46–55). Echoes of Psalm 98 are laced throughout. First, Mary expresses her delight in a psalm of praise (“My soul exalts the Lord” [1:46b]). Second, she recognized that “the Mighty One has done great things for me” (1:49), paralleling the statement, “The Lord has made known His salvation” (Psalm 98:2). Salvation has come through the mighty deeds of God (Luke 1:51, Psalm 98:1b). Third, Mary sees the gift of her yet-to-be-born son as reflecting God’s faithfulness (Luke 1:50, 54, 55). The psalmist states similarly, “He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness” (Psalm 98:3).
Mary’s thought has been captured by the writer to the Hebrews when he noted, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets . . . in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2a). Christmas calls for a great season of praise; God has fulfilled His promises made long ago of a redeemer, a son of Abraham (Luke 1:55; Galatians 3:16), for you and me!