Psalm 96 - Sing A New Song
INTRODUCTION: The message of this Psalm is even more precious today because Christ has fully opened the way of salvation to people of all nations. Psalm 96 is very close in wording to verses 23-33 in chapter 16 of 1Chronicles, but it has been separated from the rest of that celebration passage that has the full Psalm King David gave to Asaff and his brothers when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem. The original wilderness tabernacle remained at Gibeon with the altar of sacrifice, but a transition began when the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the city named for "teaching of peace" and placed into a tent David had pitched for it. We have no explanation in scripture of why the Ark of the Covenant was not returned to the tabernacle at Gibeon at this time or anytime earlier during the leadership of Samuel or of King Saul. Until King David took the city of the Jebusites, it had not fallen to anyone from the time Joshua had brought Israel into Canaan. Now, from David's time forward the city will be known as Jerusalem, and the chosen place for the Lord's sanctuary, though the temple would be built during King Solomon's reign.
NOTE: All scripture passages are taken from the World English Bible.
A - SING A NEW SONG
Psalm 96 "1 Sing to Yahweh a new song! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth. 2 Sing to Yahweh! Bless his name! Proclaim his salvation from day to day! 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous works among all the peoples. 4 For great is Yahweh, and greatly to be praised! He is to be feared above all gods."
COMMENTS: It was indeed time to sing a new song, and to spread the joy of knowing the one true God, a privilege to be made available to all people groups of the earth. But this would come about by God's mysterious means, not by the plans and devices of man. Though the nation of Israel was the chosen possession of God, through Abraham the LORD had promised blessing to be available to all nations. Genesis "22:18 In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." The joy that must have been built up within David at this point was conveyed in the words that carried past the point of praise just for the blessings of the LORD on Israel. This is another case where a Psalm contains some elements of prophecy. Israel was now united under their second king selected by the LORD through Samuel, but how that was to become a blessing to all nations of the earth was not clear at this point in history.
Centuries later after many sad failings to serve the LORD by the people and their leaders at Jerusalem, another prophet of God wrote of greatly expanded hope yet to come. Isaiah "49:6 yes, he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth." How much we need reminders such as those carried in this Psalm, because the human heart is so quick to turn from the Lord. Moses father-in-law had also stated the same fact as in this Psalm, that there is only one God who is far greater than all idols. Exodus "18:10 Jethro said, "Blessed be Yahweh, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that Yahweh is greater than all gods because of the thing in which they dealt arrogantly against them.""
B - OTHER GODS ARE IDOLS, YAHWEH MADE THE HEAVENS
Psalm 96 "5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but Yahweh made the heavens. 6 Honour and majesty are before him. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to Yahweh, you families of nations, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due to his name. Bring an offering, and come into his courts."
COMMENTS: There is no better starting for our worship and praise of the Lord than to acknowledge that he is the creator, as affirmed in the Old and the New Testament. Genesis "1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." John "1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him. Without him was not anything made that has been made." This Psalm urges all "families of nations" to give glory and honor to the Lord God and even to come into his courts with an offering. That might have seemed premature as this was declared even before the reign of Solomon, but the inspired words of scripture have a continuing application not limited in time. How could it be any more appropriate than to ascribe glory and strength, honor and majesty, to the creator God?
These next passages written centuries after the time of King David make a clear statement that there is no other God but the creator who knows all things before they happen. Isaiah "42:8 "I am Yahweh. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to engraved images. 9 Behold, the former things have happened, and I declare new things. I tell you about them before they come up." 10 Sing to Yahweh a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is therein, the islands and their inhabitants." Isaiah "45:18 For thus says Yahweh who created the heavens, the God who formed the earth and made it, who established it and didn't create it a waste, who formed it to be inhabited: "I am Yahweh; and there is no other." These verses are further reminders of an eternal God who has no restriction in past, present, or future time.
C - TREMBLE BEFORE HIM ALL THE EARTH
Psalm 96 "9 Worship Yahweh in holy array. Tremble before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations, "Yahweh reigns." The world is also established. It can't be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity."
COMMENTS: These are very bold statements to be made during the time of the recent history for Israel under Samuel and King Saul that had a mixture of victories and defeats against the enemies around Israel. Even King David had personally seen victories given him by the LORD, followed by years of needing to flee from King Saul, before being a king at Hebron for seven years until the nation was finally reunited. . The words of the Psalm are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit speaking of undeniable truth about an all powerful God. This same spiritual truth is evidenced in similar wording in some other Psalms of book four. Psalm "93:1 Yahweh reigns! He is clothed with majesty! Yahweh is armed with strength. The world also is established. It can't be moved." Psalm "97:1 Yahweh reigns! Let the earth rejoice! Let the multitude of islands be glad!" Psalm "99:1 Yahweh reigns! Let the peoples tremble. He sits enthroned among the cherubim. Let the earth be moved."
Centuries later the truth in this Psalm that the LORD reigns was recorded again by Jeremiah as he witnessed the decline and fall of Jerusalem. Despite whether we can understand the events as they unfold in the world, we need to hold on to the truth that the LORD always reigns. Jeremiah "10:10 But Yahweh is the true God; he is the living God, and an everlasting King: at his wrath the earth trembles, and the nations are not able to withstand his indignation. 11 You shall say this to them: The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, these shall perish from the earth, and from under the heavens. 12 He has made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding has he stretched out the heavens:" What more evidence do we need as we continue to see all of the raging events of history up to our time? The LORD God still reigns!
D - LET THE HEAVENS BE GLAD AND THE EARTH REJOICE
Psalm 96 "11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and its fulness! 12 Let the field and all that is in it exult! Then all the trees of the woods shall sing for joy 13 before Yahweh; for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, the peoples with his truth."
COMMENTS: Hannah gave an inspired praise prayer when she took her son Samuel to be dedicated to serve the Lord with Eli the priest, and it speaks of the judgment of the LORD. 1 Samuel "2:10 Those who strive with Yahweh shall be broken to pieces. He will thunder against them in the sky. "Yahweh will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed."" What a beautiful thing it is to see how the Holy Spirit guided the words of the mother of Samuel, before David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, was born.
Another Psalm echoes in similar wording the message of the closing verses of Psalm 96. Psalm "98:7 Let the sea roar with its fulness; the world, and those who dwell therein. 8 Let the rivers clap their hands. Let the mountains sing for joy together. 9 Let them sing before Yahweh, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity."
Jesus came into the world in flesh to bring the light of truth, with the final judgment yet to come. John "12:46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness. 47 If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn't believe, I don't judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me, and doesn't receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day." The Lord Jesus needed to leave again as part of the plan of God and his righteous judgment reserved for the last day. These scriptures give us more light than when the Psalm was written, but the times and the seasons are still known only by the Lord. John "16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I don't go away, the counsellor won't come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he has come, he will convict the world about sin, about righteousness, and about judgment; 9 about sin, because they don't believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to my Father, and you won't see me any more; 11 about judgment, because the prince of this world has been judged. 12 "I have yet many things to tell you, but you can't bear them now." We are to live by the light we have been given, and passages such as Psalm 96 give us inspired writing that we can use in confidence to bring praise to our Lord and Savior as we leave the details to our completely trustworthy God.
--- Reflections in prayer ---
I thank you Lord that you indeed put a new song into my heart when I accepted your gift of salvation. The thoughts that flow through my mind from your word about all your marvelous works throughout creation, and especially in your love toward me, are far beyond comparison to other reasons to sing. You are greatly to be praised as the only true God whose name should be honored and feared around the world. All other gods are the idols of men's minds, but you are the creator of heaven and earth. In your sanctuary are both strength and beauty, and all the families of nations should come to recognize the honor and majesty that attend you, and thereby ascribe to you the glory due your name. Your invitation is open for those who will come, to bring and offering and come into your courts. And may all who come, worship you Lord in your holy splendor, knowing that all the earth must tremble before you. May it be said among all nations that the LORD reigns, and as the earth is established, so shall he judge the people with equity. May I hold that sense of joyful anticipation of when the heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice as the creation celebrates before the LORD as you come to judge the world with righteousness, the nations with your truth. Amen.
Published 1 February 2013