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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 96

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2959. B.C. 1045.

This Psalm is a part of that which was delivered to Asaph and his brethren, (see 1 Chronicles 16:7 ,) on occasion of bringing up the ark to the city of David, by which it appears, both that David was the author of it, and that it has a reference to that event. “But,” says Bishop Patrick, “it never had a complete fulfilling till the Messiah, who was indeed the temple of God, came to dwell among us, to give eternal salvation to us.” Accordingly several of the Jewish writers, as he observes, acknowledge that it belongs to the times of the Messiah; and the Syriac title informs us, that the Psalm is a prophecy of the coming of Christ, and of the calling of the Gentiles. Here is,

(1,) A call to praise God, as a great and glorious God, Psalms 96:1-9 .

(2,) To rejoice in his judging all the world, Psalms 96:10-13 .

Verses 1-3

Psalms 96:1-3. O sing unto the Lord a new song Upon this new and great occasion, not the removal of the ark, wherein there was nothing new but an inconsiderable circumstance of place, but the coming of the Messiah, the confirming of the new covenant by his blood, and the calling of the Gentiles; bless and praise the name of the Lord, by singing a new, that is, an excellent song, the product of new affections, clothed with new expressions. Show forth his salvation from day to day That great work of the redemption and salvation of the world by the Messiah. Declare his glory among the heathen You who shall be appointed his messengers to the Gentile nations, and all you who shall be called out of those nations to the knowledge of God and of Christ, publish this glorious and wonderful work to all the heathen among whom you live, or to whom you may come.

Verses 4-6

Psalms 96:4-6. For the Lord Hebrew, Jehovah, is great Infinite in his nature and attributes; and greatly to be praised All our most exalted praises fall infinitely short of his greatness. He is to be feared above all gods The gods of the heathen, as the next words expound it. For all the gods of the nations are idols Or, nothing, as they are called 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 10:19; and, as אלילים , elilim, here rendered idols, signifies; or, vain things, as others translate the word. The sense is, Though they have usurped the name and place of the Divine Majesty, yet they have nothing of his nature or power in them. Honour and majesty are before him That is, in his presence, like beams shot from his face, who is the Sun of righteousness. There is an inconceivable glory and majesty in his countenance, and in the place of his presence. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary Or, in his holy place; that is, where he records his name, and vouchsafes his presence, there are the manifestations of his power and grace, or goodness, and of all his perfections.

Verses 7-9

Psalms 96:7-9. Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people O ye people, from whatsoever family ye come, or, O ye nations of the world, Give unto the Lord glory and strength Ascribe to Jehovah that incomparable majesty, and supreme dominion and authority, which you have been wont to give to your imaginary gods. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name Renouncing all your idols, acknowledge Jehovah alone to be the omnipotent king of all the world, and do him honour suitable to the excellence of his majesty. Bring an offering, and come into his courts The courts of his house. Bring him an oblation, in token of your subjection to him; and humbly worship him in his temple. He speaks of the worship of the New Testament under the expressions of the Jewish worship, as the prophets elsewhere do: see Malachi 1:11. O worship the Lord O come and cast yourselves down before the Lord, in the beauty of holiness In his sanctuary, where he hath fixed his glorious residence among us; or, rather, being clothed with all those holy ornaments, those gifts and graces, which are necessary and required in God’s worship. Fear before him, all the earth Let all the people approach his presence with a holy fear and sacred reverence, standing in awe of, and dreading to offend, their sovereign Lord and King.

Verse 10

Psalms 96:10. Say among the heathen You converted Gentiles, declare to those who yet remain in the darkness of heathenism; that the Lord reigneth That God hath now fixed his throne, and set up his kingdom in the world. The world also shall be established, &c. And, as that kingdom shall never be destroyed, but shall stand for ever, Daniel 2:44, so the nations of the world shall, by the means of it, enjoy an established and lasting peace: see Psalms 72:3; Psalms 72:7; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 66:12; Zechariah 9:10. He shall judge the people righteously He shall not abuse his almighty power and established dominion to the oppression of his people, as other princes frequently do, but shall govern them by the rules of justice and equity, which is the only foundation of a true and solid peace: see Isaiah 32:17.

Verses 11-12

Psalms 96:11-12 . Let the heavens rejoice, &c. These verses are a poetical description of the great causes of joy which this kingdom of Christ would bring to the world. The heavens, and earth, and sea, and trees, and fields, are here put together according to the Scripture style, to denote the whole world, which is here represented as being in a state of the greatest felicity, and as testifying its joy and thankfulness in the most lively and striking manner possible. “Transported,” says Dr. Horne, “with a view of these grand events, and beholding in spirit the advent of King Messiah, the psalmist exults in most jubilant and triumphant strains, calling the whole creation to break forth into joy, and to celebrate the glories of redemption. The heavens, with the innumerable orbs fixed in them, which, while they roll and shine, declare the glory of beatified saints; the earth, which, made fertile by celestial influences, showeth the work of grace on the hearts of men here below; the field which, crowned with a produce of a hundred- fold, displays an emblem of the fruit yielded by the seed of the Word in the church; the trees of the wood, lofty, verdant, and diffusive, apt representatives of holy persons, those trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, Isaiah 61:3, whose examples are eminent, fair, and extensive; all these are, by the prophet, excited to join in a chorus of thanksgiving to the Maker and Redeemer of the world.”

Verse 13

Psalms 96:13. Before the Lord At the presence and approach of their Lord and Maker. For he cometh to judge the earth To take to himself that power and authority which belong to him, and to set up his throne and dominion above all the nations of the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness He shall reform the earth, and govern mankind by righteous and merciful laws; and the people with his truth Or, in his faithfulness; that is, so as he has promised to do. He will certainly and abundantly fulfil all his promises made to his people, and faithfully keep his word with all those that observe his commandments. “The coming of Christ,” says the last-mentioned author, “is two-fold; first, he came to sanctify the creature, and he will come again to glorify it. Either of his kingdoms, that of grace or that of glory, may be signified by his judging the world in righteousness and truth. If creation be represented as rejoicing at the establishment of the former, how much greater will be the joy at the approach of the latter, seeing that notwithstanding Christ be long since come in the flesh, though he be ascended into heaven, and have sent the Spirit from thence, yet the whole creation, as the apostle speaks, Romans 8:22, groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, expecting to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, &c., yea, we ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the redemption of the body; when, at the renovation of all things, man, new made, shall return to the days of his youth, to begin an immortal spring, and be for ever young.”

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 96". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-96.html. 1857.
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