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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 96

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-13

Psalms 96:0

1          O sing unto the Lord a new song:

Sing unto the Lord, all the earth.

2     Sing unto the Lord, bless his name;

Shew forth his salvation from day to day.

3     Declare his glory among the heathen,

His wonders among all people.

4     For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised:

He is to be feared above all gods.

5     For all the gods of the nations are idols:

But the Lord made the heavens.

6     Honour and majesty are before him:

Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7     Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people,

Give unto the Lord glory and strength,

8     Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name:

Bring an offering, and come into his courts.

9     O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:

Fear before him, all the earth.

10     Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth:

The world also shall be established that it shall not be moved:
He shall judge the people righteously.

11     Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;

Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.

12     Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein:

Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.

13     Before the Lord: for he cometh,

For he cometh to judge the earth:
He shall judge the world with righteousness,
And the people with his truth.


Contents and Composition The Psalm begins by calling for a new song, so that the blessed name of Jehovah may be praised, the salvation of God be daily proclaimed in Israel, and the wonders of His majesty made known to the heathen (vers 1–3) This exhortation is justified by the exaltation of Jehovah as the only God and Creator, and who yet has made His sanctuary the glorious place of His self-revelation (Psalms 96:4-6). Grounded upon this, a call is addressed to the nations to worship this God (Psalms 96:7-9), and a charge given to the Israelites, to proclaim among the heathen the joyful message of His coming (Psalms 96:10-13), when He shall appear for judgment, and yet bring with Him blessings for the whole earth. This conception of the Theocracy is acharacteristic of the time of Isaiah 40-46. With this agrees the circumstance, that the text of 1 Chronicles 16:23 ff, where the same song is repeated, gives evidence of a compilation from this Psalm and passages of others (Redding, Observationes de Psalmis bis editis).

According to this, the statement of the Chronicler, to the effect that the song there recorded was sung by David when the ark was transferred to Zion, is devoid of support. So also the supposition that the song was repeated at the dedication of the Second Temple, which seeks to reconcile the two statements of the superscription in the Septuagint: “Psalm of David when the Temple was built after the Captivity.” [Perowne remarks that the second part of this superscription is probably correct, as indicating that the Psalm was composed after the exile, and for the service of the Second Temple. On the first part he says: “This seems to contradict the other, but was no doubt occasioned by the circumstance that this Psalm together with portions of Psalms 105, 106 is given with some variations by the author of the Book of Chronicles, as the Psalm which was sung when the ark was brought into the sanctuary in Zion.” Mr. Perowne, therefore, does not reconcile the contradiction, but only makes it more apparent. Hengstenberg holds that the Chronicler merely says that David instituted the service of praise, and then gives specimens taken not from David’s time, but from his own. See Introd. to Psalms 106:0—J. F. M.].

Psalms 96:4 ff. Gods. The context shows that it is neither angels, nor rulers, but the gods of the heathen who are meant. Of these there is predicated not only impotence but non-existence, nothingness (Leviticus 19:4; Leviticus 26:1; Isa. 41:44), by an expression which, in accordance with the play on the words, may be rendered; idols, but which is stronger than: no gods, (Deuteronomy 32:21), and: useless creatures. The Sept. give δαιμὁνια as exhibiting the nature of the heathen gods, according to the opinions current in their time. Elsewhere they render: ἐίδωλα and μάταια, Zechariah 11:17. These images of delusion could, by way of personification, be addressed and called upon to act (Psalms 97:7). But they are not thereby made to pass from the sphere of mythological existence. Even heaven and earth, mountain and sea, forest and field, are called upon to listen to the announcement, to share in the joy, to clap their hands (Psalms 98:8; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 55:12), and that upon the ground of the close analogy between nature and history. This is especially frequent in the Prophets, but occurs often also in the Psalms, yet not as a current formula or established phrase (Hupfeld), but as a lyrical echoing of prophetic conceptions, and therefore full of resemblances and quotations, yet without being a spiritless imitation. Even Psalms 96:7-9, which are an echo of Ps. 29:12, have significant peculiarities of their own. In Psalms 96:9, instead of: in holy array [E. V., beauty of holiness], the Sept. has both here and in 1 Chronicles 16:0 in the courts of the sanctuary. The sanctuary mentioned in Psalms 96:6 b. is probably the earthly one (comp. Isaiah 60:0). The Chronicler has differently, strength and joy are in His place. This might more naturally refer to the heavenly place, but it is evidently connected with his historical treatment of this poem, with which he has united a passage taken from Psalms 105:0. Many psalters add to Psalms 96:10 a the addition: a ligno, upon which an author so early as Justin lays great stress. [On Psalms 96:13, Alexander: “The use of the word people in the common version of the last clause, obscures the sense by seeming to apply the verse to Israel, whereas it is expressly applied in the original to the nations generally Even the truth or faithfulness of God, which commonly denotes His veracity in fulfilling His promises to the chosen people, has here a wider sense, as opposed to the dishonesty or partiality of human judges. In the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 16:33) the emphatic repetitions in the first clause and the whole of the last clause, are omitted, perhaps because so striking and sonorous a conclusion would not have been appropriate, when another Psalm was to be added.”—J. F. M.]


1. Every new manifestation of the truth of God in testimony of His power and mercy, deserves a new song. By the former both the earlier revelation is confirmed, and progress in the history of redemption effected, by the latter the acknowledgment is both expressed and made more widely known. The song is therefore partly a hymn and partly a sermon, and in each relation is adapted both to edify the Church and to awaken the heathen.

2. The worship of Jehovah is destined to be extended over the whole earth. The means ordained for the fulfillment of that end, arc the proclamation of the joyful message of the Lord’s coming among all tribes and to all generations of men. The right to this is based upon the holy majesty of Jehovah, as the only real and true God. To this right corresponds the duty of worshipping in holy attire, which has its crowning manifestation in the public services of the Church. The fulfilment of these obligations is bound up with the progress of God’s kingdom on earth, and on account of the condition of the world, bears in one relation the form of a judgment, and in another, that of a course of education of the nations. The development of the Theocracy stands therefore in closest connection with the salvation of the world, and the history of the Church, but depends throughout on the revelation of God’s glory, which has its appropriate times and historical stages.


Every advance which is made in the kingdom of God is a blessing to the world. It therefore becomes the Church to rejoice over it, to pray for it, and to work for it.—God does not weary in blessing, but thanksgiving is often unpleasant to us, and the service of God a burden.—The eternal mercy of God may be praised with old or with new songs, provided only that it be done by a heart which has received a new impression of the glory of God.—The work of missions, even though prosecuted by individuals, is the duty of the whole Church, and the cause of the Lord our God.—The heathen world is great, its conversion goes slowly forwards, the work of laboring for it is difficult, but the will of God is plain, the assistance of God powerful, the blessing of God certain.—The coming of the Lord; (1) as the object of our hope; (2) as matter of our preaching; (3) as source of our joy.

Starke: The new song demands a new heart and a ready tongue. It has for its ground the real enjoyment of the purchased blessings of redemption.—He who has become truly a subject of Christ’s kingdom of grace, burns with desire to bring others also within it, and proclaims by word and life the glory of God his King, and the blessedness of his fellow-citizens.—The true kind of joy is that which is expressed before the Lord.

Frisch: He whose undertakings succeed should give only God the glory.—Tholuck: The proclamation of the undivided dominion of the Lord, is a subject of rejoicing in which even lifeless nature must receive a tongue and praise Him.—Taube The new salvation gives a new heart, and a new heart gives a new song—What human sin, as a destroying power, shakes even to its foundation, receives, when judgment is led forth to victory, its immovable support from the sin-conquering and therefore delivering righteousness of the Lord, and converted souls praise thenceforward the God of order and of peace.

[Matth. Henry: In God there is everything that is awful, and yet everything that is amiable. If we attend Him in His sanctuary we shall behold His beauty, for God is Love; and experience His strength, for He is our Rock.

Scott: If we are ready for the coming of the Lord, let us bless His name, bear up cheerfully under our difficulties, endeavor to promote the peace and enlargement of His kingdom, and in our proper place and doing our proper work, let us be as faithful servants who are habitually expecting and desiring the coming of their Lord.

Barnes: Whatever makes the world attractive; whatever beautifies and adorns creation, has its source in God; it proceeds from Him. Whatever there is of power to reform the world and convert sinners; whatever there is to turn men from their vicious and abandoned course of life; whatever there is to make the world better and happier, proceeds from the “sanctuary”—the Church of God.—J. F. M.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 96". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/psalms-96.html. 1857-84.
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