From Psalms 96-102
Today’s Psalm has been made up into another popular song I’ve sung many times at church. Once again the author is unknown. So we don’t know who to give the credit for creating a wonderful song of praise.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
96 Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day. (Ps 96.1-2)
The Psalmist strings together a list of six imperatives. Sing – sing – sing – bless – tell – declare. At first he encourages his listeners to sing the LORD’s praises throughout the earth, to bless his name and tell others of his salvation every day. Built into their Psalms are encouragements for Israel to go out and tell all the world about what the LORD has done for them and praise him.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods. (Ps 96.3-4)
A repetition of the first themes in case they were not clear, the Psalmist in addition commends the LORD. He is to be feared because of his goodness, holiness and power. No other can match him.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. (Ps 96.5-6)
The other gods cannot match him because they are not real. They are worthless idols of wood, stone and metal. They have no power. The LORD in contrast created the heavens and the earth. All his people need to is look around them and see the LORD’s work and power. We would normally think the sanctuary is the temple, the place where he reigns. However the concept of the LORD’s sanctuary could I suspect refer to all creation, including the heavens. The context suggests just this.
7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth! (Ps 96.7-9)
The Psalmist calls out to all the people to ascribe to the LORD. ‘Ascribe’ is a verb which means to attribute something to, to regard a quality belonging to. Families are to give themselves to the LORD. People are to give the LORD glory, bring him offerings and come to the temple courts. There they should worship him. We cannot go to the temple now, but we can offer our worship all over the world.
10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.” (Ps 96.10)
One of the core messages of the Christian faith – ‘the LORD reigns’. The world has been established by his power. He is in control and will judge all people. The Psalmist looks forward to this day.
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness. (Ps 96.11-13)
All creation should rejoice at the coming of the LORD. When he comes he will judge and set everything right. For the righteous, this is something to look forward to. The LORD will judge the world in righteousness. This is a quality where he is king over all creation and will ensure his kingdom is how he wants it. The LORD’s judgement is also in accordance with his covenant faithfulness. Here we see a melding of the LORD’s righteousness as king and covenant member.
Story of Israel
The Psalmist encourages listeners to remember and declare the great saving acts of the LORD. And there have been several significant ones through Israel’s history. Their exodus from Egypt and salvation at the Red Sea. The LORD brought them to the promised land and conquered their enemies. Through Judges the LORD raised up mighty warriors and leaders to save them from the foreign powers oppressing them. After Judah was exiled for disobedience the LORD called them back into their inheritance. There was so much they could sing about.
The Psalm looks forward at the end to a time of judgement. The Psalmist encourages the people of God to look forward to this event. Unfortunately through Israel and Judah’s history there were many times when they were judged. But still these were not the times when the LORD would truly set the world to rights. There was another time predicted.
Story of Jesus
The same is true of believers today. When the original audience sung this song they recalled the saving events of the Old Testament. But Christians today recall the death and resurrection of Jesus. All Christians have participated in these events. They have been saved through them. Now we likewise look forward to Jesus’ return as judge when he will restore his kingdom to himself. The songs of Old and New Testament believers will unite in praise.
15 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished.
2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Rev 15:1–4)
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