“Wrestling With Romans”
Sweet Praises (Chapter 15 Verses 1-13)
The united praises of Jew and Gentile existed in the Old Testament too of course (vv9b-13), one heart, one voice, a unanimous chorus. And the root of all this praise? It stems from the root of Jesse (v12). It is the Old Testament picture of the Christian Church (Psalm 18.49; Deuteronomy 32.43; Psalm 117.1; Isaiah 11.10). Now in verse nine (v9b), quoting Israel’s King David (Psalm 18.49), we are told he will bring the confession and songs of the Lord’s praise amongst the Gentiles, into the Christian Church. What kind of praise is this? Of course in the Jewish culture, there would be instruments, singing, even dancing and hand-clapping. But, remember, that’s the Old Testament dispensation, the worship is cultic. But the picture is one of a great joyful celebration of praise amongst God’s people (v10), not somber, not doleful, on the contrary, there is here much happiness, much singing. In fact there is a command here, rejoice (v10a; Philippians 4.4)! You know you go to a concert, or football match and people are so pleased, thrilled with the performance they are compelled to clap and sing. All that of course is sensual, soulish, it’s raw emotion, we don’t want that in our churches. But, when we think of what God has done for us in Jesus, that really ought to thrill us and please us much more than some worldly event. Don’t you just want to clap and sing sometimes? Inside, in your heart? The trees and the rivers will (Isaiah 55.12; Psalm 98.8), and all the nations will too (Psalm 47.1), and us with them!
This Psalm is the shortest (v11), a four liner (Psalm 117.1), it’s like a chorus as opposed to a full-blown hymn or a larger portion of a Psalm as we would normally sing. But it is a Psalm, and surely there is nothing better than singing God’s own word, his revealed truth. At least when we’re singing such we know we’re on rock-solid ground. But again the original tense suggests the heaping up of praises, all the people as with one voice, an abundance of praise. Then the climax (v12), from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 11.10), and of course these very prophecies were actually fulfilled in the Church that Paul’s writing to in Rome, as Jew and Gentile gathered together under the one banner of Jesus Christ, the Ruler of their hearts, to unitedly glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (v6). Yes, this descendant of Jesse, the Israelite, is the One who will be the rallying point for all the nations of the world, who will be the Ruler and the hope of the world, ”as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth” (Numbers 14.21). May he fill you with this sure and certain hope (v13).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)