Psalm 92 is “A Song for the Sabbath,” and it celebrates the great blessing this day offers to the people of God. Its opening verses speak of the goodness and joy of worshiping in His presence (vv. 1–4), and its concluding verses speak of the flourishing that comes to those who are thus planted in the house and courts of our God (vv. 12–15). The pinnacle of this neatly balanced song is verse 8: “But you, O Lord, are on high forever.” It is the only single line in the psalm, and it occurs at its very center. Above and below this pivotal verse, the overthrow of the wicked (vv. 5–7) and the exaltation of the righteous (vv. 9–11) are rehearsed. Sabbath rest and worship thus offer an oasis for the weary and heavy-laden people of God, who live in a world where the wicked often flourish and the righteous often suffer. The worship of the Sabbath day peels back the illusion created by this fallen world and shows us that God is on high forever, and therefore the true outcome of all things will be just as He has promised—everlasting rest will come to the people of God. The Sabbath day thus anticipates the consummated kingdom, bringing into time the blessings of eternity and bringing down to earth the joys of heaven.
The New Testament does not do away with this appointed means of grace but transfers it to a new day. While Paul authoritatively abolishes the duty of seventh-day worship (Rom. 14:1–6; Gal. 4:8–11; Col. 2:16–23), he at the same time organizes churches around “the first of the Sabbath” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2), which by the time of John’s Revelation was known as the Lord’s Day. Like the Sabbath day that preceded it in the Old Testament, it is the day above all days when the New Testament people of God are joined in holy convocation, hearing God’s Word read aloud and expounded, and breaking bread with one another (Acts 20:7). It is the day above all days when the Lord is present with His people, standing in the midst of them, enthroned upon their praises (Ps. 22:3), as they sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) and offer their prayers to Him (1 Tim. 2:1).
John Eliot (1604–90) was an early American Puritan pastor and missionary to Native American people. Eliot was a diligent keeper of the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath. In a sermon heard by Cotton Mather and taken down in notes, Eliot preached that those who were zealous for and zealous on the Lord’s Day would thereby spend one-seventh of their life on earth in heaven. While they lived on earth, they would be no stranger to heaven, and when they died heaven would be no strange place to them. No, indeed, for they will have been there a thousand times before.
The Apostle John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when he saw the Lord standing among His churches, again speaking words of hope and assurance. The Lord Jesus still reveals Himself to His churches when they gather to worship Him in spirit and in truth. The Lord’s Day has especially been appointed for this purpose and it is rich with blessing. As the Puritan David Clarkson observed, “So that the presence of God, which, enjoyed in private, is but a stream, in public becomes a river that makes glad the city of God.”