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An exhortation to praise God, for his greatness, for his kingdom, and for his general judgment.
THIS psalm is attributed to David in the Greek copies. It was composed by him upon the translation of the ark from the house of Obed-edom to the place that he had prepared for it on mount Sion: and it is extant in 1 Chronicles 16:0 only differing in some particulars, which are supposed to have been added by Ezra upon rebuilding the temple after the captivity. But, says Bishop Patrick, it never had a full completion till the time of the Messiah, who was indeed the temple of God, which came to dwell among us. Several of the Jewish Rabbis acknowledge that it belongs to his times, and the Syriac title informs us, that it was a prophesy of the coming of Christ, and the calling of the Gentiles.
Psalms 96:5. The gods of the nations are idols— Things of nothing. Mudge. Vanities; things which have no substance or being. The words strength and beauty, or glory, in the next verse, are the very words by which the ark is described in Psalms 78:61.
Psalms 96:8. Give unto the Lord, &c.— After David has exhorted the people to praise and to give thanks to God for his peculiar mercies to them, he breaks out into a rapture of gratitude, in contemplation of the infinite bounty and benignity of the Creator; and calls upon the whole creation to fill up the chorus of his praise; Give unto the Lord, &c. to the end of the psalm. In 1Ch 16:34 he returns to his own people, O give thanks unto the Lord, &c. and concludes with those words which seem to be the form in which he blessed, i.e. prayed for his people; first calling upon them to join with him in the prayer, 1Ch 16:34 and say ye, Save us, O God, &c. See Life of David, b. ii. c. 12.
Psalms 96:9. In the beauty of holiness— The beauty of holiness means the temple, or courts of the temple; which was the peculiar residence of Jehovah, and remarkable for its beauty and elegance. By the Lord, in the next verse, both Jews and Christians generally agree that the Messiah is meant.
Psalms 96:11-13. Let the heavens rejoice— These three verses are a poetical description of the great causes of joy, which this kingdom of Christ, expressed by the Lord's reigning, Psa 96:10 and coming to judge the world, Psa 96:13 and which was to be spiritually erected, would bring to the whole world. The heavens, and earth, and sea, and trees, and fields, are here put together, according to the scripture style, to denote the whole inferior world; which, interpreting the heavens of the airy regions, is made up of these. By his judging, &c. is here meant his reforming and regenerating mankind, and governing them by righteous laws.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, When Jesus is the subject of our song, words must fail to speak our gratitude.
1. With warm devotion the enraptured Psalmist calls on God's believing people through the whole earth, to join the song of praise, and publish abroad from day to day, to the most distant heathen lands, the glory of his grace, and the wonders of his mercy in that amazing work that he has accomplished, the salvation of sinners; a theme which will be for ever new, nor to eternity be exhausted, but minister occasion for new and everlasting praises.
2. He mentions various particulars which afford motives and matter for our songs. For the Lord is great, in uncreated glory, in the works of creation and providence, and especially in those of redemption and grace, and greatly to be praised; and, when we raise our loftiest strains, he is exalted still far above all blessing and praise: he is to be feared above all gods. For, however high their votaries exalt them, all the gods of the nations are idols, or mere nothings, unable to do good or hurt, lifeless and insensible: but the Lord made the heavens, and garnished them with all their lustre to declare his glory. Honour and majesty are before him; enthroned in brightness inaccessible; adoring angels bow before him, and cover their faces with their wings: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary; strength, visible in the conversion of sinners, and the support of his militant saints; and beauty displayed in all the ordinances of his worship, and graces of his Spirit bestowed on his church and people here below, or in heaven, where the most glorious manifestations of his power and excellence appear, amidst cherubic hosts, and spirits of the just made perfect, who wonder and adore.
3. The manner of their service is prescribed. No longer confined to one people; with regard to his visible church, his courts are open to all kindreds or families, and the believers of the whole earth must publicly approach him, giving him the glory, so peculiarly his own; not that we can bestow any thing on him, we receive all from him before we can render aught unto him; acknowledging his power, dominion, and sovereignty. Bring an offering, not the blood of beasts, but our own bodies, souls, and spirits, a living sacrifice; worshipping him in the beauty of holiness, both in his own instituted ordinances of prayer and praise, and out of pure hearts, sanctified by his grace, devoted to his glory; and with reverential fear, sensible of our own vanity, vileness, and unworthiness, to approach him so high, so holy.
2nd, The converted Jews and Gentiles, or rather the ministers intrusted with the gospel, are here directed what to say among the heathen.
1. The Lord reigneth, victorious over death and hell, and all his foes; ascended up on high, sat down on his throne, and all power committed to him in heaven and earth; exalted to be a Prince and Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins.
2. The world also shall be established that it shall not be moved; for he up holdeth all things by the word of his power, and will preserve this material world till his faithful ones are gathered out of it; and then reign over his glorified saints for ever and ever.
3. He shall judge the people righteously; the ordinances of his kingdom shall be most perfectly just and equitable; in the hearts of his faithful people he shall rule by his Spirit, establishing them in righteousness and true holiness, and be their judge to vindicate their cause against the accusations and attacks of every enemy.
4. Let heaven and earth adore him. Let the heavens rejoice, the angelic hosts who behold with joy the incarnate Saviour, and the conversion of the Gentile world, and let the earth be glad; the righteous, who see the Redeemer's kingdom exalted among men: let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; all who sail on these mighty waters must advance his praise. Let the field be joyful and all that is therein; the church, and all the members of it, inclosed by divine love, and cultivated by the great husbandman, exult in God their Saviour: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; every child of God, the planting of the Lord, shall bless and praise him. Note; The establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom upon earth is matter of general joy; and how much greater will the exultation be, when at last he shall for ever reign over his ancients gloriously!
5. Let the world prepare to meet their God, for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; it is certain, it is near; at his tremendous bar must all appear, to receive according to the things they have done in the body; with righteousness, and the people with his truth: he needs no evidence who is omniscient; and being by his nature altogether righteous and true, his decisions will appear perfect justice. May we be found of him in peace at that day!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 96". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20