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This week, those of us who are reading together are exploring Worship in the Bible. One of the readings is from Psalm 96 which reads:

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous deeds among all peoples.

For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendour and majesty are before him;
strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;

bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness;

tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns.’
The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
 and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Often, when we in the West in 2015 read poems of praise like this there are phrases which grate against our sensibilities for one reason or another. In this Psalm the writer speaks of god coming to judge all the earth, and let’s be honest, it sits a little bit in the “awkward conversations to have down the pub” column.
This is largely because I am focussing on the wrong words in this sentence. The author was not attempting to score points with a provocative declaration of how much bigger his God is than your god. Nor was he trying to be outrageous in some assertion that God might turn out to be in charge of the world. Those things were taken for granted. god, by definition has to be pretty big, and, if anyone can set the limits on what is right or not, it would be the divine.
No. The truth the psalmist is more concerned with telling is WHAT TYPE of God he expects to come to visit earth, and what methods will he chose to work by? This is important. It is important because up till now pretty much every description of any god had been that they were unpredictable, meaning that if you caught them on a bad day you were in for trouble. Or that the gods were angry with humans just for the heck of it. Or that they might want to punch you because they liked the look of your sister and wanted her for themselves. Or that they might be at war with each other and their bullets might fly off their intended target and accidentally hit you.
Not so with the one true God declares the psalmist. He is a God of righteousness, justice, kindness and fairness. His judgement is not to be feared as you might fear an unpredictable, drunk capricious Zeus. His activity is defined by grace. HE is defined by love. That is what kind of a God he is. And that is why he is worthy or worship.
If he wasn’t like that, then he wouldn’t be worthy of praise.