Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? For example, what do we say when a Christian mother backs the car over the top of her little toddler crushing him to death? When a Christian man discovers he has brain cancer and must soon leave his three young children without a father? When a hurricane destroys the homes and disrupts the lives not only of unbelievers but also of believers? Perhaps you’ve asked that question while undergoing personal trial or tragedy.
“I’ve been praying the Psalms, in some form, for almost 40 years now. Over those years, through seasons of ecstatic joy and abiding sorrow, I have experienced the Word-at-work-in-the-Psalms faithfully forming me, and forming so many others, toward Christlikeness.” - Dan Wilt
“through mountains and valleys, through trials and triumphs, through ecstasy and agony, we hear one common, beautiful thread: praise. In the throes of fear, praise. In the vulnerability of uncertainty, praise. In the darkness of doubt, praise. Even in the heartache of betrayal, praise.” - Desiring God
In Psalm 98:4, God’s people are called to crank up the volume of congregational praise:
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth into joyous song and sing praises! (ESV).
I’d like to offer a brief exposition of the key terms employed, followed by some practical observations.
The Psalmist employs three expressions in verse 4 that call for exuberant praise.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.