“Bring an offering and come into His courts.
Worship the LORD in holy attire;
Tremble before Him, all the earth.” Psalm 96:8b-9 (NASB)
In Psalm 96, the psalmist presents to us images that foreshadow the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The purpose of this article is to see how this brief passage presents Jesus and His gospel.
In the second half of verse 8, we read that we are to “bring an offering and come into His (the LORD’s) courts.” The ‘offering’ here is speaking of an acceptable sacrifice that is our required “admission ticket” into the LORD’s courts. We are allowed into the LORD’s courts only if we bring with us an acceptable offering. Here, then, the gospel is foretold, for the only acceptable offering that anyone can bring to the LORD is the offering that Jesus Christ gave on the cross. If you will bring Christ’s death on the cross as your own offering, and if you will confess Christ as Lord, then you will be allowed into the Lord’s courts because of the imputed righteousness of Christ. The blood of Christ, then, is the offering we bring.
Verse 9 of this psalm presents for us two groups of people. One group worships the LORD is holy attire and the other group trembles before the LORD.
The first group is to “worship the LORD in holy attire.” What is this “holy attire?” And who are those who wear this “holy attire?” Here again we encounter the threads of the gospel, for from the Bible we know that no one is righteous and, therefore, no one is worthy to wear holy attire. If, then, there are those who do wear holy attire, it is only because they have been dressed in this holy attire by the Lord. But first, what is “holy attire?”
In Isaiah 61:10 we read that the LORD “has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness.” This is holy attire, the garments of salvation and the LORD’s robe of righteousness.
In Luke 15:22, in the parable of the lost son, the father in the story, who represents God the Father, welcomes his repentant son home and clothes him with the best robe. This is a picture of what happens when any sinner repents (Luke 15:7, 10). This is holy attire, the robe of repentance.
In Revelation 6:11, the martyrs underneath the altar are each given a white robe by the Lord and are told to wait a little longer. This white robe is holy attire, given by the Lord because of their faithfulness even unto death (Rev. 2:10).
In Zechariah 3:1-5 there is a crystal-clear picture of what happens when the Lord takes away our sin. Joshua the high priest is standing before the LORD in filthy garments. The angel of the LORD commands that the filthy garments be removed, and pure vestments be put on, because He has removed Joshua’s iniquity. The sinner’s iniquity is removed, and he is clothed with clean vestments. This is holy attire.
In Revelation 7:9 there is “a great multitude which no one could count from every nation . . . clothed in white robes.” The worshipers of Jesus are gathered before the throne of the Lamb at the end of the age to praise the Lord forever and they are clothed in white robes. This is holy attire. And who are these so clothed? These are the ones who “have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb (7:14).” And what are they doing? They are worshiping the Lord in holy attire. In this life, the followers of Jesus who have been spiritually dressed in the holy attire of righteousness will worship the Lord, but even more significantly, on the day of judgment and into eternity they will continue to worship the Lord in holy attire.
But there is a second group in view in the second half of Psalm 96:9, and these “Tremble before Him (the LORD), all the earth.” And who are these that tremble before the LORD? These are all those who have not been wrapped with a robe of righteousness and who have not washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb. And why do they tremble before the LORD? They tremble before the LORD because they await His terrifying judgment. Having rejected the LORD in their earthly life, they now await the just recompense of the Lord’s eternal and irrevocable condemnation.
In this brief passage, then, two groups are displayed, with two dramatically different destinies. One group eternally worshiping the Lord in the splendor of holiness, and the other group eternally separated from God in the torment of the lake of fire. And what is the distinction between these two groups? Christ! Christ is the One who divides mankind into these two groups. In Luke 12:51-53, the Lord Jesus Christ declares that He has come to bring division on the earth. All the earth will be divided on the basis of how each person relates to the Lord Jesus. He is the One who separates the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31ff). That means there are those who worship and all the rest tremble. Jesus Himself declared, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters (Matthew 12:30).” Every single person either worships the Lord in holy attire or they await the final judgment with trembling.
What we have seen, then, is that the psalmist in Psalm 96 presents the gospel in poetic form. Bring to the Lord the acceptable offering of the blood of Christ, then worship the Lord in the holy attire of His imputed righteousness.
SDG rmb 7/20/2019