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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 96

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


In 1 Chronicles 16:23-33, this psalm is recorded entire, with little variation from its form in the Psalter, as having been used on occasion of the second removal of the ark. 1 Chronicles 16:7. Apparently contrary to this, and apparently self contradictory, the Septuagint gives the title: “When the house was built after the captivity, a song of David.” But these two accounts may well agree if we take the real date to be as given in Chronicles, and suppose that, after the exile, it was used at the dedication of the second temple. The latter fact would naturally be preserved in the sacred archives, and the authors of the Greek version, more than two hundred years later, might have inserted their title simply as showing that the psalm was thus used. On this hypothesis, and on no other, could they have named it ωδη τω Δαυιδ , ( a song of David,) and at the same time dated it οτε οικος ωκοδομηται την αιματωσιαν , ( when the house was built, after the captivity.) We cannot take the latter part of the Greek title and reject the former, as do some critics. Such a procedure is wholly arbitrary. We must take the whole as genuine, or reject such as conflicts with Chronicles. The explanation we have given meets all the demands of fair criticism.

The psalm is a most joyful celebration of the universal sovereignty of God, as King and Saviour, written in the strain of Psalms 95:1-7, and in marked sympathy with the later prophecies of Isaiah, chapters 40 to 63. In the introduction, the whole earth is called to praise God (Psalms 96:1-6) because of his greatness and glory, and the beauty, purity, and fitness of his worship; the heathen, also, are invited to come with offerings, (Psalms 96:7-9,) for his kingdom is to be set up over them also, (Psalms 96:10,) on which occasion heaven, earth, and sea, man and nature, are called to exult, Psalms 96:11-13. The whole psalm is a prophecy of the submission of the Gentile nations to Jehovah, which is the common medium through which the Hebrew prophets contemplated the reign of Messiah.

Verse 1

1. A new song “Besides the psalms and songs which have been written.” Kimchi. But more than this, “new” in the sense of unusual, out of the common course, above the common measure, spiritual, joyful, Messianic. See Psalms 33:3; Psalms 98:1; Isaiah 42:10; and still more perfectly unfolded in Revelation 5:9-10

Verse 2

2. Sing unto the Lord Thrice uttered in Psalms 96:1-2, for strength and intensity. The call is urgent, the occasion extraordinary.

Show forth his salvation Bear tidings of, etc., like a swift messenger, or preach tidings, as Psalms 40:9; Isaiah 61:1. The evangelical import of the language is settled by the Lord himself in Luke 4:18; Luke 4:21.

From day to day Perpetually.

Verse 5

5. Idols The name is one of contempt: אלילים (eleeleem,) images, nothings, vanities, in opposition to אלהים , ( Eloheem,) God. The former word is a play upon the latter, (by paronomasia;) by altering the letters a little the similarity of sound is retained with a sense satirically opposite. Thus, the heathen gods are called “no gods,” (2 Chronicles 13:9,) in opposition to the true God, (chap. Psalms 15:3;) “nothing,” (1 Corinthians 8:4,) “vanity,” (Jeremiah 14:22,) and “devils,” from the character and effect of their worship. 1 Corinthians 10:19-20; Revelation 9:20.

The Lord made the heavens He is to be judged of by his works. They are his “glory,” his “wonders,” (Psalms 96:3,) and the appeal is made to show that the Author of nature and of salvation is one and the same God. Psalms 95:4-5

Verse 6

6. Honour and majesty The Hebrew words denote kingly glory.

Strength and beauty Two qualities difficult to combine. They are not spoken so much of the architecture of the sanctuary as of the symbolic significance of its structure and furnishments, as “patterns of things in the heavens,” (Hebrews 9:2; Hebrews 9:23;) above all, its worship, and the manifestations of God to his devout worshippers. See Psalms 63:2

Verse 7

7. Give… ye The “give,” or ascribe, is uttered thrice, corresponding to “sing,” thrice repeated, (Psalms 96:1-2,) expressive of the earnestness of the speaker. See Psalms 29:1-2. The Chaldee has it, “Bring a new song to God.”

Kindreds of the people Hebrew, Families of the nations. This accords with the breadth of the covenant. Compare “families of the earth,” (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 28:14,) which is the basis of the New Testament Church, as the family organization is also of the nation. The tendency of modern civilization and nationality is to restore the nations, according to the most ancient law, on the line of language and blood, see Genesis 10:5; Genesis 10:20; Genesis 10:31-32, against the arbitrary combinations of ambition and conquest. Europe gives an example of this.

Verse 8

8. Glory due unto his name Literally, The glory of his name; that is, ascribe to him the “glory” of his self-manifestations, whether in creation, providence, or redemption. See on Psalms 96:5.

Bring an offering The call is still to the nations. See the anticipation of their conversion further delineated, Isaiah 60:0. There is no religion without worship; and worship, to be acceptable, must include an offering to God and a public confession according to our relations to him. See on Psalms 50:14; Psalms 51:16-17

Verse 9

9. Beauty of holiness See notes on Psalms 29:2; Psalms 110:3

Verse 10

10. Say among the heathen The address is to the Church, as in Psalms 96:3. The conversion of the Gentile nations (Psalms 96:5; Psalms 96:7; Psalms 96:9; Psalms 96:13) was the psalmist’s theme, of which the Church is the chosen instrument.

The Lord reigneth See on Psalms 93:1. “Jehovah reigneth,” in the Hebrew estimation, embodied all that could be said or desired of happiness to the earth and glory to God. Their ideal of millennium was the universal theocracy, as ours is of the Christocracy. To them the coming of Messiah was the “day of Jehovah.” Malachi 4:6

Verse 11

11. Let the heavens rejoice Fulfilled when, in prophetic vision, heaven saw the kingdom of Christ established over the nations. Revelation 11:17-19. But the righteous dominion of Christ over the earth implies, not only the worship of one God and one Saviour, but the downfall of despotism, the abrogation of unjust laws, the administration of justice, the overthrow of antichrist, the uprooting of superstition, the destruction of idols, the universal rights of man, and the peace of the earth. These have never yet been accomplished by the gentle influence of moral suasion alone, without the concurring judgments of God to break the arm of the wicked.

Verse 13

13. He shall judge the world with righteousness This description of the happy state of the earth accords with that of John, (Revelation 20:4:) “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.” Comp. Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:27.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 96". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-96.html. 1874-1909.
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