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THE EXCELLENCE OF THE GOSPEL
‘A New Song.’
This psalm may be divided into four strophes of three verses each (the last strophe, however, swells to four verses); and in each of these one feature of the excellence of the gospel is set forth.
I. Its everlasting freshness ( Psalms 96:1-3).—The poet calls his own psalm ‘a new song,’ that is to say, it is inspired by a new experience and filled with fresh feeling. Each day has its own problems and difficulties, and, therefore, the gospel which man requires is one which can accompany him through all the windings of his history, and still have a message for his new needs. It must be able in the same way to visit every shore, and adapt itself to all the varieties of mankind. It must have a message for the dreamy East and the strenuous West; for the degraded tribes of Africa and the South Seas, and the cultivated children of the civilised races. The gospel is all this, and, therefore, our psalm says, ‘Declare His glory among the heathen, His wonders among all people.’
II. The Deity it announces ( Psalms 96:4-6).—The second excellence of the gospel is that the God whom it makes known is worthy to be an object of worship for all the children of men. This can by no means be said of other religions. This psalm says, ‘The gods of the nations are idols,’ or, as the word ought rather to be translated, ‘nonentities.’ On the most favourable views that can be taken of any of them, the heathen religions stand far beneath that of Christ, and they chiefly serve to bring out its excellences by contrast. The God of the Bible stands in a unique position far above all the deities of the heathen; the more His character is studied the more admirable is it seen to be; as this psalm says, ‘Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.’
III. The worshippers it produces ( Psalms 96:7-9).—Another excellence of the gospel is the character produced in those who worship the God of revelation. Like deity, like worshipper—this is an invariable rule. If the deity be cruel and impure, so will be the worshippers; if, on the contrary, honour, beauty, and strength are his attributes, these will appear also in his worshippers. Many of us could say that the strongest proof which we have ever received of its reality has been the character of its professors. May God give us grace to pass on in our own persons the blessed tradition!
IV. Its effects in the world ( Psalms 96:10-13).—The last excellence of the gospel dwelt upon is its power to transform the earth and make it an abode of righteousness and happiness. Well may the heathen be told, as this psalm calls upon the professors of the true religion to tell them, that the reign of God, if universally established, would mean the cessation of anarchy and oppression, and such a general diffusion of the blessings of peace and prosperity that it would seem as if all nature were rejoicing in man’s joy—as if the sky were answering the earth, and the sea calling to the dry land, and the fields whispering their gladness to the forests.
Rev. A. R. C. Dallas.
‘We learn from 1 Chronicles 16 that this psalm formed part of the hymn of praise which David “delivered to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren,” on the occasion of the bringing up the Ark into the tent on Mount Zion which David had pitched for it. In spirit it is a millennial psalm, and is thus in keeping with the group of psalms in which it occurs (92–100), all of which point on to the Sabbath of this world’s history—the “rest that remaineth for the people of God” ( Hebrews 2:9). The subject is a call to praise, in view of Christ’s second advent and glorious reign. To apply it, look forward to the glorious day of the Lord’s coming, and realise its approach that you may prepare for it.’
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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Psalms 96". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20