TODAY’S READING: Psalms 89, 96, 100–101, 105, 132
According to the commissions at the end of the gospels, fundamental missionary activity is to make disciples of all unreached peoples teaching them to obey everything Jesus taught [including to make disciples of all peoples (Matt. 28:18–20)], to preach the gospel in all the world to every creature (Mark 16:15), to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all the peoples of earth (Luke 24:47–48), to be sent as the Father sent Jesus [away from home, to suffer and die for the lost (John 20:21)], and to be witnesses in the power of the Spirit away from home in ever expanding difficulty and distance [none of the Galilean disciples were from Jerusalem (Acts 1:8–11)]. This mission priority on preaching, proclaiming, teaching, and making disciples of all unreached peoples is not original to the New Testament: It has been the heart of God from the beginning of time.
Walter Kaiser points out that Psalm 96 is one of the great missionary psalms for the author orders the Jewish people to both praise Jehovah and to proclaim His salvation and glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among the peoples (vv. 2–3).
The Hebrew word for “proclaim” (Hebrew root of bsr; basar) is the Old Testament equivalent of the New Testament euangelizomai, “to bring good news,” “to announce glad tidings”, or to “announce the gospel”. As most know, the “announcement of good news” in the New Testament is applied to the finished work of Christ on the cross. And here it is expressly applied to the call to announce this same news about the Messiah to the nations and peoples of the world. Surely this is what missions are all about.
W. Creighton Marlowe posits that Psalm 96 specifically claims Jehovah is the only true God and must be worshiped by all the nations, that in fact there are no other gods at all. He points out that there is even a delightful play on words in the Psalm:
“Above all gods” in v. 4 and similar statements in the OT raise the question “does the OT assume the existence of other gods?” That the answer is no is demonstrated in v. 5 where the term “idols” is elilim, an intensive plural of a word meaning “nothing”; so the psalmist says the so-called gods are really “the greatest nothings of all”.
God’s covenant with David established that the Lord would establish His seed forever and that seed would be the Messiah whom all nations would worship as He would rule forever (89:3, 36; 132:11–12). All lands and peoples are to come before the Lord with a joyful shout (100:1). All the sons of Abraham and David share in the same big idea: We are to praise the Lord and make known His deeds among all the peoples of earth (105:1–10, 42–45). The missionary people of God are to sing out the songs of the Lord and to speak out the gospel from day to day among all unreached peoples (96:1–3), for all the peoples of earth are to glory, worship, sacrifice, and welcome the judgments of the one true God, Jehovah (vv. 7–11).
Kaiser sums up Psalm 96 by saying:
The context demands that God’s character (“glory”) and his conduct (“deeds”) be “declared” (Hebrew: spr) universally and internationally… This is not an exclusively Israelite privilege…Israel, along with the new converts from all the earth, are to “preach” (Hebrew: ‘amar) that “Yahweh reigns” and that he will come to “judge the peoples with equity” (v.10)… Thus, praise of God preceded preaching, but both were part and parcel of Israel’s witness to the nations. The point is that there was a call for an active witness (i.e., it was to be centrifugal in its effect, reaching out from the center to others) by Israel to the Gentiles.
The application for us today is threefold: First, we must be a people of praise. We must open our mouths in private and public and magnify Jesus; we cannot invite the nations to do what we do not practice. Second, we must go. The center for evangelism can be neither in the church building nor the homeland; it must be in the marketplace and among the nations. Third, the heart of missions is the verbal proclamation (teaching, preaching, proclaiming) of the gospel, the making of disciples, and the gathering of those disciples in indigenous churches. All other (good) things are but means to this end.
 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Mission in the Old Testament: Israel as a Light to the Nations. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2000. 34.
 W. Creighton Marlowe. “The Music of Missions: Themes of Cross-Cultural Outreach in the Psalms.” Missiology 26 (1988). 455.
 Kaiser. 34.