Psalm 96 (Basic Bible Commentary)

November 24th, 2013

Declare God's Glory (Psalm 96:1)

This hymn was written for the annual festival of enthronement of the Lord. The rites are a magnificent drama complete with full splendor and pageantry. The psalmist begins with a call to sing praises. The song is to be a new song, symbolic of the new year which is about to begin. All the world's peoples are included in the invitation. The intent of the praise is to announce the glorious deeds which Israel's God has performed (verse 3).

The psalmist pauses to remind the listeners that other gods of the people are merely idols without the character and depth of Israel's one God (verses 5-6). The call to ascription that follows (verses 7-8) is a summons to pledge obedience to Israel's God. It precedes the sacrificial offering which takes place in the inner courts of the Temple. Holy splendor (verse 9) suggests priestly vestments appropriate to that crucial part of the rites.

The climax of the psalm occurs in verse 10 when the lector announces the mystical enthronement. God is renewed as King, once again to rule as Creator, Sustainer, and Judge. The remainder of the psalm is joyous exultation. The whole world feels the magnetic presence of God. Bathed in divine radiance, all that is in the world sings for joy (verses 11-12). Essential to Israel's conception of humanity is the idea of justice—judgment with equity. God alone must be the final arbiter of justice. A fitting close to this psalm is the announcement that God will judge the earth.

excerpt from: Basic Bible Commentary in the Ministry Matters Library

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