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This Psalm has no superscription in the Hebrew. But in the Septuagint and in the Vulgate it has the following, “When the house was built after the captivity. An ode by David.” There is a great similarity between this Psalm and the great festal hymn which “David delivered, to thank the Lord, into the hand of Asaph and his brethren” on the day when the ark was brought into the sanctuary in Zion. It indeed almost exactly corresponds to that portion of the Psalm, on the placing of the ark in Zion, which is contained in 1 Chronicles 16:23-33. It is probable that the original Psalm was composed by David, for use on the occasion mentioned above, and that it is recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36, and that this Psalm was selected from it for use at the dedication of the second temple.
We regard the Psalm as setting before us a picture of—
THE WORLD’S MOST JOYOUS DAY
We have here a picture of a day of blessing and glory for our world such as never yet has dawned upon it, but most assuredly will dawn in God’s own appointed time. The Poet portrays two grand features of the world’s most joyous day. It will be—
I. A day when the relations of the Lord to the world shall be rightly apprehended. What are those relations?
1. He alone is God of the world. This is clear from
(1) The nothingness of heathen deities and the reality and power of Jehovah. “All the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” The heathen deities were nonentities, nothings. They had no real existence. They existed only in the imaginations of their worshippers (Isaiah 41:23-24.) Even when the objects of the worship of the heathen have a real existence, such as the heavenly bodies, yet they have no existence as gods, no existence which renders them fit objects of homage. But the Lord is real and living and powerful. He “made the heavens.” In their creation He has manifested His power and glory to all the world, and given proof that He is the true God and entitled to the worship of His creatures.
(2) The greatness of Jehovah. “The Lord is great, and greatly to be praised.” God is great in His thoughts and purposes, in power and action, in glory and dominion. His greatness is so pre-eminent that Masillon well said, “God alone is great.”
(3) The glory of Jehovah. “Honour and majesty are before Him, strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” Wherever He pleases to manifest Himself there true glory is displayed. All that is really mighty and majestic, glorious and beautiful, is found in Him in full perfection, and flows from Him. Holiness and wisdom, truth and love constitute His strength, beauty, and majesty. He has displayed His glory in the heavens which He created; but it shines most brightly “in His sanctuary,” in the Church militant and in the Church triumphant. In the world’s most joyous day the Lord shall be recognised throughout the world as the only true God, incomprehensibly great and glorious.
2. His salvation is for all the world. “Show forth His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the heathen, His wonders among all people.” In the bright day which is drawing near, His salvation will be published amongst all nations and all peoples. “Salvation” from the night of heathen darkness, from sin and all its terrible consequences. “Salvation” to holiness, love, life immortal, into the image of God, and to the vision of God. “Salvation” for all the world as opposed
(1) to the restrictions of Judaism. “Go ye into all the world,” &c. (Mark 16:15-16). “God is no respecter of persons,” &c. (Acts 10:34-35).
(2) To the limitations of human creeds. Our narrow systems of theology cannot restrict the fulness of the grace of God. The river of the water of life refuses to be pent in the limited channels which men have scooped out for it. It flows in streams broad and deep, for the life and refreshment of all men. Salvation is free for all men. “Ho, every one that thirsteth,” &c. (Isaiah 55:1-2). “Whosoever believeth,” &c. “The Spirit and the Bride say, Come,” &c. (Revelation 22:17). In the glorious day approaching, the freedom and universality of salvation will be recognised, &c.
3. He is the King of all the world. “Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth,” &c. “ ‘Jehovah is King,’ lit. ‘hath become King,’ hath taken to Himself His great power and reigned.”
“He shall reign from pole to pole
With illimitable sway.”
Under His reign the earth will become calm and stable. Agitated and shaken by the sins and strifes of men, it shall become peaceful and orderly under the sway of Jehovah. In the joyous day of which our Poet sings, the reign of the Lord shall be proclaimed in all the world, recognised in all the world, and its blessings enjoyed in all the world.
4. He is the Judge of all the world. “He shall judge the people righteously. He cometh, He cometh to judge the earth,” &c. Judging is probably used here for ruling. Two prominent features of the Divine rule and judgment are here specified—
(1) Righteousness. The laws of His kingdom and their administration harmonise with eternal truth and equity.
(2) Faithfulness. His administration will accord with the truth of His own character, and the declarations of His will. “It is a judgment which is to issue in salvation.” “It is not a retributive, but a gracious judging, by which controversies are adjusted and prevented, and the law of love is introduced into the lives of the people.” In the world’s most joyous day the Lord will be heartily recognised as the gracious Ruler and Judge of all men.
II. A day when the relations of the Lord to the world shall be duly celebrated. In the day portrayed by the Psalmist the gracious relations of Jehovah to all men will not only be understood, but appreciated and praised.
1. He will be universally worshipped. “All the earth” shall sing unto Him. “All flesh shall come to worship before Me, saith the Lord.” “From the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among the Gentiles,” &c. (Malachi 1:11). “As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
2. He will be enthusiastically worshipped. Three times the Poet calls upon the people to “Sing unto the Lord,” and three times to “Give unto the Lord glory,” The repetition indicates urgency and zeal. The whole soul of the Poet is in the exhortation. In the grand coronation day the Lord the King shall be worshipped with entire heartiness, and with intensest enthusiasm.
3. He will be joyously worshipped. “O sing unto the Lord a new song,” &c. The “new song” is “one which shall be the fit expression of all the thoughts and hopes and triumphs of the new and glorious age which is about to dawn. It is the glad welcome given to the King when He enters His kingdom.” So great is the joy of the world that even the inanimate creation is represented as sharing in it. “Let the heavens rejoice,” &c. (Psalms 96:11-12). “With the coming of Jehovah and the setting up of His kingdom, all the broken harmonies of creation shall be restored. Not ‘the sons of God’ only, but the whole creation, is still looking forward to the great consummation (Romans 8:21).”—Perowne.
4. He will be reverently worshipped. “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, fear before Him, all the earth.” “ ‘Bow yourselves before Jehovah in holy pomp, tremble before Him all the earth.’ ‘Pomp,’ or ‘array,’ but the word denotes all that lent solemnity and impressiveness to the service.”—Perowne. In the glorious day which the Psalmist foresaw, the Lord will be worshipped with all that is expressive of admiration and veneration. There will be nothing unbecoming in the worship offered unto Him. All the earth will approach and pay homage to Him in the beauty of pure, loving, adoring spirits.
1. Here is a word of Exhortation. For the advent of this most joyous day for the world, let us be untiring both in work and in prayer.
2. Here is a word of Inspiration. This bright day will surely dawn. The world advances not to the darkness of night, but to the splendours of a glorious and unfading noontide. Therefore, take heart, ye faithful watchers, and brave workers, and earnest suppliants. The cause to which you are devoted must triumph. The mountain tops are already bathed in glory; and soon the whole world will be flooded with radiance, and breakforth into the tremendous and exultant shout, “Hallelujah, the Lord reigneth.”
THE OBJECT, OBLIGATION, AND EXPRESSION OF WORSHIP
I. The grand Object of worship. “The Lord.” He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. “The Lord made the heavens.” He is the true and rightful Proprietor of all things and beings. He has a claim upon our worship. We ought to worship Him. He is supremely great and glorious. His glory consists of His goodness. His worship should be attractive, delightful. He is the only true Object of worship. He alone is perfect. Worshipping any other object our being will not be developed, or will be developed injuriously. His worship is quickening, purifying, exalting, &c.
II. The solemn obligation of worship. “The glory due unto His name.” “Due” is supplied by our translators. But, if we omit it and read, “The glory of His name,” the text still sets forth the obligatoriness of worship. Worship is not optional, but binding.
1. It is due to Him because of what He is. He is supremely great, and should, therefore, be reverenced; supremely gracious, and should, therefore, be loved; supremely glorious, and should, therefore, be humbly adored, &c. Think of what He is, and then ask yourself, How much is due unto Him?
2. It is due to Him because of what He does. His is the glory of creation, providence, redemption. How much He has done for us! How much of gratitude, &c., we owe to Him! “On His head are many crowns.”
III. The appropriate expression of worship. “Bring an offering,” &c. “ ‘Bring presents.’ ‘Presents’ (the collective sing for the plural), in allusion to the Oriental custom which required gifts to be brought by all who would be admitted to the presence of a king.”—Perowne. Hengstenberg: “The ‘bring offerings’ is used of the bringing of gifts of allegiance to earthly sovereigns.” The derivation and usage of the word minchah—“offering”—point to that idea of sacrifice, which represents it as a Eucharistic gift to God our King. Let us express our worship in offerings of—
1. Grateful praise. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me.”
2. Generous contributions. (Proverbs 11:24-25; 1 Corinthians 9:6-11.)
3. Devoted service. (Acts 20:24; Philippians 2:30.)
The great Sin-Offering has been made. Our obligations to the Lord are immense. Let us heartily bring our thank-offerings to Him.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 96". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13