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Book of Psalms

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Psalm 96

King James Version
1 O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; show 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.1

Bible Commentary
Three times we are here called to sing unto the Lord Let this song be sung constantly, not only in the times appointed for the solemn feasts, but from day to day; it is a subject that can never be exhausted.2  Let all the earth lift up one common psalm as with one heart and voice unto Jehovah, who hath visited it with his salvation.3
2 We may well bless him who so divinely blesses us.3  Bless his name, speak well of him, that you may bring others to think well of him.2  Let us proclaim the glad tidings, or preach the gospel of his salvation continually.3  His salvation, which was to be wrought out by the Lord Jesus, must be shown forth as the cause of this joy and praise.2

This salvation was, in the Old-Testament times a glory to be revealed; but in the fulness of time it was declared.  What was then discovered was declared only among the Jews, but it is now declared among the heathen, among all people; the nations which long sat in darkness now see this great light. The apostles’ commission to preach the gospel to every creature is copied from this: Declare his glory among the heathen.2
4 Jehovah is no petty deity, presiding, as the heathen imagined their gods to do, over some one nation, or one department of nature. Jehovah is great in power and dominion, great in mind and act; in all things he is infinite.  Even if the graven images had been gods they could not have borne comparison for an instant with the God of Israel, and therefore his worship, should be far more zealous than any which has been rendered to them.3
All those reputed or worshipped as gods among the heathens were are images of wood and stone, vanities, things of nought.3,4  The idol gods have no existence, but our God made the heavens.3 He who is the creator is alone worthy of adoration and praise.4
6  Honour and majesty are with Jehovah and with him alone. In His presence real glory and sovereignty abide, as constant attendants. Men can but mimic these things; their pompous pageants are but the pretence of greatness.  In Him are combined all that is mighty and lovely, powerful and resplendent. Not in outward show or parade of costly robes does the glory of God consist; such things are tricks of state with which the ignorant are dazzled; holiness, justice, wisdom, grace, these are the splendours of Jehovah's courts, these the jewels and the gold, the regalia, and the pomp of the courts of heaven.3
7  The first six verses commenced with an exhortation to sing, three times repeated, with the name of the Lord thrice mentioned; here we meet with the expression “Give unto the Lord”, used in the same triple manner. This is after the manner of those poets whose flaming sonnets have best won the ear of, the people, they reiterate choice words till they penetrate the soul and fire the heart.  Divided into tribes and families, we are called in our courses and order to appear before him and ascribe to him worship and honour.  Give unto the LORD glory and strength, that is to say, recognise the glory and power of Jehovah, and ascribe them unto him in your solemn hymns.3 
8 All conceivable honour is due to our Creator, Preserver, Benefactor, and Redeemer, and however much of zealous homage we may offer to him, we cannot give him more than his due.  To him who gives us all, we ought gladly to give our grateful tithe. When assembling for public worship we should make a point of bringing with us a contribution to his cause, according to that ancient word, "None of you shall appear before me empty."3
9 Beauty of architecture and apparel He does not regard; moral and spiritual beauty is that in which his soul delighteth.  Worship must not be rendered to God in a slovenly, sinful, superficial manner; we must be reverent, sincere, earnest, and pure in heart both in our prayers and praises.  The psalmist calls all the earth to “fear” before Jehovah.  "Tremble" is the word in the original, and it expresses the profoundest awe, just as the word "worship" does, which would be more accurately translated by "bow down."3
They who enter into the presence of a king presently fall on their knees in token of submission and homage; in the presence of your King do the same.4
10 The gladdest news which can be carried to the heathen is that the Lord Jehovah, in the person of his Son has assumed the throne, and taken to himself his great power. Society is safe where God is king, no revolutions shall convulse his empire, no invasions shall disturb his kingdom. Sin has shaken the world, the reign of Jesus will set it fast again upon sure foundations.3  Christ’s government will be incontestably just and righteous.2
11 Above and below let the joy be manifested. Let the angels who have stood in amaze at the wickedness of men, now rejoice over their repentance and restoration to favour, and let men themselves express their pleasure in seeing their true prince set upon his throne. Let there be no more a troubled sea, wailing over shipwrecked mariners, and rehearsing the griefs of widows and orphans, but let it adopt a cheerful note, and rejoice in the kingdom of the Lord. Let it thunder out the name of the Lord when its tides are at its full, and let all its teeming life express the utmost joy because the Lord reigneth even in the depth of the sea.3
12 All nature is invited to share in the praise of God when Christ comes to usher in the eternal reign of righteousness.5  Let the cultivated plains praise the Lord.  Both men, and creatures that graze the plain, and the crops themselves are represented as swelling the praises of Jehovah.  The psalmist does not say, let the trees of the wood rejoice, but they shall do so.3
13 The repetition of the phrase “for he (the Lord) cometh” lends force and animation to the passage.  The coming of Christ will inaugurate His kingdom of righteousness.5  He will judge with honesty, veracity and integrity.  Judgment will be given without fear or favour. In all this let the nations be glad, and the universe rejoice.3 Christ’s coming to judgment will result in the establishment of moral order in the earth and the inauguration of eternal peace and happiness.5  

References and notes
1.  King James Authorized Version
Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible -
3.  Charles H. Spurgeon, "The Treasury of David" -
4.  Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary -
5.  SDA Bible Commentary Vol. 3 pg 851
6.  Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament -




Music for Psalm 96

Click on image for song preview of Psalm 96. The music was composed in 2005.  Psalm 96 features on the CD album Wings of the Morning and DVD album Sing unto the LORD.

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This Psalm has no title, either in the Hebrew or Chaldee. The Syriac: "Of David. A prophecy of the advent of Christ and the calling of the Gentiles to believe in him." The Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, and Arabic have, "A Song of David, when the House was built after the Captivity."4



Psalm 96 in 1 Chronicles 16

We meet with a psalm very similar to this, in 1 Chronicles 16, delivered by David to Asaph, to be sung on occasion of the removing of the ark from the house of Obed-edom to Zion. But the ode, as it stands in 1 Chronicles 16, is considerably longer, extending from the 8th verse to the 36th [1Ch 16:8-36]; and this is only the part of it from the 23rd to the 33rd verse [1Ch 16:23-33]. It has been supposed that this part was extracted from the psalm above mentioned, and, with a few inconsiderable alterations, adapted to the solemnity of the dedication of the second temple. This opinion is founded upon the inscription of the psalm in the Septuagint, Vulgate, Æthiopic, and Arabic versions, which is, “A song of David when the house was built after the captivity.”7


Was Psalm 96 a new song?

From the above paragraph, it would appear that this is not a new song. But it may be called new, from its having been adapted to a new purpose — from its having been intended to celebrate new mercies conferred upon the Jews, and to lead the mind forward to the glorious era of the coming of the Messiah, and the establishment of his kingdom, which probably was the matter of more general expectation among the chosen people, at the period when the temple was rebuilt, than when the ark was brought to Mount Zion from the house of Obed-edom. It may be observed, that the first verse is not in the original poem, as recorded in the book of Chronicles, but appears to have been added for the new occasion to which this shorter psalm was adapted.7


Grandeur and Magnificence

This psalm has been admired for its grandeur and magnificence. The three last verses in particular have been frequently quoted as a specimen of sublimity in sentiment and language, which cannot be surpassed. “Nothing can excel in this respect,” remarks Bishop Lowth, “that noble exultation of universal nature in the 96th Psalm, which has been so often commended, where the whole animate and inanimate creation unite in the praises of their Maker. Poetry here seems to assume the highest tone of triumph and exultation, and to revel, if I may so express myself, in all the extravagance of joy.”7


A Missionary Hymn

The Hebrew Psalms are filled with a missionary message of outreach to the nations of the world. "Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples" (Psalm 96:3). This isn't just a passing word; it is a dominant theme in the PsalmsPsalm 96 is "a missionary hymn for all ages." It is filled with a jubilant note of joy, but there is also a declaration of impending judgment. The psalm must originally have been composed for public worship because it is entirely one of worship. It is devoted to praise to God in the context of public worship in the Temple. The LORD God is a wonderful Creator and Ruler and He is coming to judge all men. People are to be reached with the Good News with the goal that eventually all may join in God's praise. It is a great missionary psalm with missionary themes. You will find 25 quotations in various parts of the Old Testament in this beautiful psalm. 8


Psalms Song Category

The Psalms Song Category is a great starting point for searching the songs which make up this music category. The song category page contains Daily Scriptures and easy links to song previews and song pages. The song pages include interesting background information and commentary about the songs and the Bible author. Sometimes there are links to related web pages including Bible Quotes, Sermons, Music samples, and Bible Puzzles.

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