Revived for Joy: Psalm 96

Judgment comes with revival, and leads to joy.

The Scope and Focus of Revival (7)

Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it.
Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice
before the L
For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth.
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the peoples with His truth.
Psalm 96.11-13

Judgment and joy
Seasons of revival are in many ways seasons of judgment. Believers come under severe conviction of sin, as the Spirit brings to light and judges their erring ways and stubborn hearts (Jn. 16.8-11). Unbelievers come under the judgment of the Lord in large numbers, and are converted to Jesus Christ and translated into His Kingdom.

The sense of judgment pervades the air during revival. People weep for their sins, and the sins of those they love. Believers implore God with tears for the salvation of the lost. Those who are seeking revival call on the Lord to judge the wickedness of the world and to bring a new measure of uprightness to all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.

As God moves in judgment, in response to the earnest prayers of His people, tears of sorrow flow because of our sinful ways. But they are quickly replaced by tears of joy, as we bask in the forgiveness of God, are renewed in His Spirit and truth, and go forth to sow in tears of joy those seeds of witness and prayer that will further the work of revival in our generation.

Psalm 96 fills out the vision of a world in revival. It calls us to announce the Good News of God’s salvation from day to day, and to declare His glory to the people in our Personal Mission Field. It focuses on the greatness and might of God, and reminds us that all glory belongs to Him. The scope of its reviving energy is worldwide and creation-pervasive. It calls on the Lord to come in judgment and to lead the world in rejoicing and in singing a new song to the Lord: 

(Mit Freuden Zart: “All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above”)
Sing to the Lord! O, bless His Name! All nations tell His glory!
Salvation’s tidings loud proclaim; let earth rehearse His story!
For God is greatly to be praised; His throne above all gods is raised –
Fear Him, and sing His glory!

A world caught up in revival
In times of revival – as we saw in the city of Ephesus in Acts 19 – people denounce their false gods and turn away from them in repentance. Those things they had trusted in – wealth, leisure, power, entertainment, sex, and more – are seen as having let them down, and people look from them to the living and true God, Creator, Redeemer, Savior, and Lord. The worship of God spreads from person to person, city to city, nation to nation, and all the earth takes on a new prospect – fear and trembling before the Lord, leading to rejoicing: 

All other gods are idols vain – the Lord created heaven.|
Splendor and strength with Him obtain; to Him be glory given!
All fam’lies, praise this mighty Lord! Give strength and glory to His Word!
Exalt the Lord of heaven.

The witness to the Lord breaks out like spring, bringing new life and joy far as the curse is found. To God strength and glory are ascribed by all the peoples of the earth, as they come before Him to offer praise and thanks and the worship which is His due: 

Bring off’rings sweet to Him, our Lord, in holy garments praise Him!
Tremble before Him, all the earth; among the nations raise Him!
The earth is fixed, it will not move; the peoples will His justice prove –
exalt the Lord and praise Him.

The joy of the Lord spreads so rapidly and fully that even the groaning and travailing creation becomes caught up in the new and widespread liberty of the sons and daughters of God, and is refreshed and renewed, and flourishes according to God’s original design (Gen. 1.31): 

Let heaven sing with lusty voice; let earth and sea sing sweetly!
Let fields and trees in Him rejoice, For He is coming swiftly
To judge the world in righteousness, the peoples in His faithfulness –
He comes; exalt Him greatly!

When God comes to revive His people, they are renewed throughout, in all their ways. They go forth each day, into every nook and cranny of creation and society, bringing the Good News of salvation, calling on men to repent and believe the Gospel, and working to restore the fallen world with good works of joy.

And that’s a scenario worth praying for, indeed.

Praying Psalm 96 for revival
As you pray Psalm 96, pay attention to the many imperatives: sing, proclaim, declare, fear, give. How do these apply to you? What is God calling you to do through these actions, to prepare yourself and your world for His coming judgment and revival?

Intercede for the families of your church, and for all the families represented by the people in your Personal Mission Field. Express your confidence in the Lord’s ability to revive His Church and awaken the world to Jesus. Plead with Him to give you a vision of the world revived, renewed, awakened, and being restored for the glory of God. Then go forth to declare that Jesus reigns, and that He is calling the world to repent and believe the Gospel, before the coming judgment of God.

And as you pray verses 11-13, particularly at the end of the day, rejoice in the Lord, that what He leads you to pray for in His Word is just that much closer now than it was the day before. He is coming, and when He comes in reviving power, it will be for us like a dream come true, and we will laugh with tears of joy to see the salvation of the Lord as we have never seen it before.

For reflection
1. Why should we expect judgment to accompany revival? Where is judgment needed?

2. Review all the imperatives in this psalm. How would you describe the state of these in your own life?

3. What will you do today to bring revival, renewal, and awakening to your soul, and into your Personal Mission Field?

Next Steps – Transformation: Sing and pray Psalm 96 along with other psalms we’ve studied, so that you gain a growing vision for revival. Download this and the previous series of studies on the theme, Revived!, and share them with some friends.

T. M. Moore

We are pleased to offer Worship Guides for use in your family or small group. Each guide includes a complete service of worship, and they are free to download and share by clicking here.

This is part 2 in the series,
Revived! All installments in this series may be downloaded for further study by clicking here. For more psalms to sing, order a copy of The Ailbe Psalter (click here).

For a fuller discussion of why we need revival, and how to seek it, order a copy of our book,
Restore Us! by clicking here. If you would like a 28-day, morning and evening challenge to seek the Lord for revival, write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll send you a free PDF of our reader, Give Him No Rest, featuring excerpts from writings by Jonathan Edwards on the importance of praying for revival.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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