(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon)  "Excerpted text

Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.  Materials are reproduced

by permission."

 

 

                                                            Psalm 96

 

 

SUBJECT. —This Psalm is evidently taken from that sacred song which

was composed by David at the time when "the ark of God was set in the

midst of the tent which David had prepared for it, and they offered burnt

sacrifices and peace offerings before God." (I Chronicles 16:1) - The former

part of that sacred song was probably omitted in this place because it referred to

Israel, and the design of the Holy Ghost in this psalm was to give forth a song for

the Gentiles, a triumphant hymn wherewith to celebrate the conversion of the

nations to Jehovah in gospel times. It follows fitly upon the last Psalm, which

describes the obstinacy of Israel, and the consequent taking of the gospel

from them that it might be preached among the nations who would receive

it, and in due time be fully won to Christ by its power. (Acts 28:28) - It thus

makes a pair with Psalm 95. It is a grand MISSIONARY HYMN, and it is

a wonder that Jews can read it and yet remain exclusive. If blindness in

part had not happened unto Israel, they might have seen long ago, and

would now see, that their God always had designs of love for all the

families of men, and never intended that His grace and His covenant should

relate only to the seed of Abraham after the flesh. We do not wonder that

the large hearted David rejoiced and danced before the ark, while he saw in

vision all the earth turning from idols to the one living and true God.

Had Michal, Saul's daughter (II Samuel 6:12-23), only been able to enter into

his delight, she would not have reproached him, and if the Jews at this day

could only be enlarged in heart to feel sympathy with all mankind, they also

would sing for joy at the great prophecy that all the earth shall be fitted with the

glory of the Lord.  (Isaiah 11:9)

 

DIVISIONS. —We will make none, for the song is one and indivisible, a

garment of praise without seam, woven from the top throughout.

 

1   “O sing unto the Lord a new song:” -  New joys are filling the hearts of

men, for the glad tidings of blessing to all people are proclaimed, therefore

let them sing a new song. Angels inaugurated the new dispensation with

new songs, and shall not we take up the strain? The song is for Jehovah

alone, the hymns which chanted the praises of Jupiter and Neptune,

Vishnoo and Siva are hushed for ever; Bacchanalian shouts are silenced,

lascivious sonnets are no more. Unto the one only God all music is to be

dedicated. Mourning is over, and the time of singing of hearts has come.

No dismal rites are celebrated, no bloody sacrifices of human beings are

presented, no cutting with knives, and outcries of lamentation are

presented by deluded votaries. Joy is in the ascendant, and singing has

become the universal expression of love, the fitting voice of reverent

adoration. Men are made new creatures, and their song is new also. The

names of Baalim are no more on their lips, the wanton music of Ashtaroth

ceaseth; the foolish ditty and the cruel war song are alike forgotten; the

song is holy, heavenly, pure, and pleasant. The psalmist speaks as if he

would lead the strain and be the chief musician, he invites, he incites, he

persuades to sacred worship, and cries with all his heart, "O sing unto

Jehovah a new song." - “sing unto the Lord, all the earth.” —National

jealousies are dead; a Jew invites the Gentiles to adore, and joins with them,

so that all the earth may lift up one common psalm as with one heart and voice

unto Jehovah, who hath visited it with His salvation. No corner of the world is

to be discordant, no race of heathen to be dumb. All the earth Jehovah

 made, and all the earth must sing to Him. As the sun shines on all lands,

so are all lands to delight in the light of the Sun of Righteousness. E Pluribus

Unum, (“out of many, one” – is a dictum on the seal of the United States –

CY – 2011) - out of many one song shall come forth. The multitudinous languages

of the sons of Adam, who were scattered at Babel, will blend in the same song

when the people are gathered at Zion. Nor men alone, but the earth itself is

to praise its Maker. (Ephesians 1:10) - Made subject to vanity for a while by a

sad necessity, the creation itself also is to be delivered from the bondage of

corruption, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God, so that

sea and forest, field and flood, are to be joyful before the Lord. Is this a dream?

then let us dream again. Blessed are the eyes which shall see the kingdom,

and the ears which shall hear its songs. Hasten thine advent, good Lord!

Yea, send forth speedily the rod of thy strength out of Zion, that the nations may

bow before the Lord and His Anointed.

 

2   “Sing unto the Lord, bless His name;” -  Thrice is the name of the Lord

repeated, and not without meaning. Is it not unto the Three One Lord that

the enlightened nations will sing? Unitarianism is the religion of units; it is

too cold to warm the world to worship; the sacred fire of adoration only

burns with vehement flame where the Trinity is believed in and beloved. In

other ways beside singing, the blessed Lord is to be blessed. His name, His

fame, His character, His revealed word and will are to be delighted in, and

remembered with perpetual thanksgiving. We may well bless Him who so

divinely blesses us. At the very mention of His name it is meet to say, "Let

Him be blessed for ever." - “shew forth his salvation from day to day.”

The gospel is the clearest revelation of Himself, salvation, outshines creation

and providence; therefore let our praises overflow in that direction. Let us

proclaim the glad tidings, and do so continually, never ceasing the blissful

testimony. It is ever new, ever suitable, ever sure, ever perfect; therefore

let us show it forth continually until He come, both by words and deeds, by

songs and sermons, by sacred Baptism and by the Holy Supper, by books and

by speech, by Sabbath services and weekday worship. Each day brings us

deeper experience of our saving God, each day shows us anew how deeply

men need His salvation, each day reveals the power of the gospel, each day

the Spirit strives with the sons of men; therefore, never pausing, be it ours

to tell out the glorious message of free grace. Let those do this who know

for themselves what His salvation means; they can bear witness that there is

salvation in none other (Acts 4:12), and that in Him salvation to the uttermost

is to be found. Let them show it forth till the echo flies around the spacious earth,

and all the armies of the sky unite to magnify the God who hath displayed

His saving health among all people.

 

3  “Declare His glory among the heathen,” -  His salvation is His glory, the

word of the gospel glorifies Him; and this should be published far and wide,

till the remotest nations of the earth have known it. England has spent

much blood and treasure to keep up her own prestige among barbarians;

when will she be equally anxious to maintain the honor of her religion,

the glory of her Lord? It is to be feared that too often the name of the Lord

Jesus has been dishonored among the heathen by the vices and cruelties of

those who call themselves Christians; may this fact excite true believers to

greater diligence in causing the gospel to be proclaimed as with a trumpet

in all quarters of the habitable globe - “His wonders among all people.”

The gospel is a mass of wonders, its history is full of wonders, and it is in

itself far more marvelous than miracles themselves. In the person of His Son

the Lord has displayed wonders of love, wisdom, grace, and power. All glory

be unto His name; who can refuse to tell out the story of redeeming grace and

dying love? All the nations need to hear of God's marvelous works; and a really

living, self denying church would solemnly resolve that right speedily they all shall

hear thereof. The tribes which are dying out are not to be excluded from

gospel teaching any more than the great growing families which, like the

fat kine of Pharaoh, are eating up other races: Red Indians as well as Anglo

Saxons are to hear of the wonders of redeeming love. None are too

degraded, none too cultured, none too savage, and none too refined.

 

4   “For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised:” -  He 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; nothing mean or narrow can be found in

Him or His acts, in all things He is infinite. Praise should be proportionate to

its object, therefore let it be infinite when rendered unto the Lord. We

cannot praise Him too much, too often, too zealously, too carefully, too

joyfully. He deserves that nothing in His worship should be little, but all the

honor rendered unto Him should be given in largeness of heart, with the

utmost zeal for His glory. - “He is to be feared above all gods.” Other gods

have been worshipped at great cost, and with much fervor, by their blinded

votaries, but Jehovah should be adored with far greater reverence. 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. He is to be feared, for there

is cause to fear. Dread of other gods is mere superstition, awe of the Lord is

pure religion. Holy fear is the beginning of the graces, and yet it is the

accompaniment of their highest range. Fear of God is the blush upon the

face of holiness enhancing its beauty.

 

5  “For all the gods of the nations are idols:” -  Mere images of wood

and stone, vanities, nothings - “but the Lord made the heavens.” The reality

of His Godhead is proved by His works, and foremost among these the psalmist

mentions that matchless piece of architecture which casts its arch over every man's

head, whose lamps are the light of all mankind, whose rains and dew fall upon the

fields of every people, and whence the Lord in voice of thunder is heard speaking

to every creature. The idol gods have no existence, but our God is the author of

 ALL EXISTENCES; they are mere earthly vanities, while he is not only

heavenly, but made the heavens. This is mentioned as an argument for

Jehovah's universal praise. Who can be worshipped but he? Since none can

rival Him, let Him be adored alone.

 

6   “Honor and majesty are before Him:” -  Men can but mimic these

things; their pompous pageants are but the pretence of greatness. Honor

and majesty are with Him and with HIM ALONE!  (Revelation 5:12)

In the presence of Jehovah real glory and sovereignty abide, as constant

attendants.  Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. In Him are combined all

that is mighty and lovely, powerful and resplendent. We have seen rugged

strength devoid of beauty, we have also seen elegance without strength;

the union of the two is greatly to be admired. Do we desire to see the

"sublime and beautiful" at one glance? Then we must look to the eternal

throne. In the Chronicles we read strength and gladness; (I Chronicles

16:27) and the two renderings do not disagree in sense, for in the highest degree

in this instance it is true that "a thing of beauty is a joy for ever." 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.

 

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. The invocation of the sweet singer is still addressed to all mankind,

to whom he speaks as “O ye kindreds of the people,” -  Divided into tribes

and families, we are called in our courses and order to appear before Him and

ascribe to Him all honor.  "All worship be to God only," is the motto of one of

our City companies, and it may well be the motto of all the families upon earth.

Family worship is peculiarly pleasing unto Him who is the God of all the families of

Israel -  “give unto the LORD glory and strength.” -  that is to say, recognize

the glory and power of Jehovah, and ascribe them unto Him in your solemn hymns.

Who is glorious but the Lord? Who is strong, save our God? Ye great nations who

count yourselves both famous and mighty, cease your boastings! Ye monarchs, who

are styled imperial and puissant, humble yourselves in the dust before the only

Potentate. Glory and strength are nowhere to be found, save with the Lord, all others

possess but the semblance thereof. Well did Massilion declare, "God alone is great."

 

8   “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto His name:” -  But who can do

that to the full? Can all the nations of the earth put together discharge the

mighty debt? All conceivable honor 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. If we cannot bring in

the full revenue which He justly claims, at least let us not fail from want of honest

endeavor - “bring an offering, and come into His courts.” Come with an

unbloody sacrifice; atonement for sin having been made, it only remains to bring

thank offerings, and let not these be forgotten. 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." (Exodus 23:15; Deuteronomy 16:16) The time will come when from all

ranks and nations the Lord will receive gifts when they gather together for His

worship. O long expected day begin!

 

9  “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness:” -  This is the only

beauty which He cares for in our public services, and it is one for which no

other can compensate. 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. Purity is the white linen of the Lord's choristers,

righteousness is the comely garment of His priests, holiness is the royal

apparel of His servants - “fear before Him, all the earth.” "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."

Even the bodily frame would be moved to trembling and prostration if men

were thoroughly conscious of the power and glory of Jehovah. Men of the

world ridiculed "the Quakers" for trembling when under the power of the Holy

Spirit; had they been able to discern the majesty of the Eternal they would

have quaked also. There is a sacred trembling which is quite consistent

with joy, the heart may even quiver with an awful excess of delight. The

sight of the King in His beauty caused no alarm to John in Patmos, and yet

it made him fall at His feet as dead. Oh, to behold Him and worship Him

with prostrate awe and sacred fear!

 

10   “Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth:” -  This is the

gladdest news which can be carried to them, —the Lord Jehovah, in the

person of His Son has assumed the throne, and taken to Himself His great

power. Tell this out among the heathen, and let the heathen themselves,

being converted, repeat the same rejoicing. The dominion of Jehovah Jesus

is not irksome (I John 5:3), His rule is fraught with untold blessings, His yoke is

easy, and His burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-30) - “the world also shall be

established that it shall not be moved:” -  SOCIETY IS SAFE WHERE

GOD IS KING - no revolutions shall convulse His empire, no invasions shall

disturb his kingdom. A settled government is essential to national prosperity, the

reign of the god of truth and righteousness will promote this to the highest

degree.  Sin has shaken the world, the reign of Jesus will set it fast again upon sure

foundations.  “He shall judge the people righteously.”  This is the best method

for establishing society on a secure basis, and this is the greatest source of joy

to oppressed nations. Iniquity makes the dynasties of tyrants fall, equity

causes the throne of Jesus to stand. He will impartially rule over Jew and

Gentile, prince and peasant, and this will bring happiness to those who are

now the victims of the despot's arbitrary will.

 

11  “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;” -  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 favor (I Peter 1:12), and let men themselves express their pleasure in seeing

their true prince set upon His throne. The book of creation has two covers, and on

each of these let the glory of the Lord be emblazoned in letters of joy - “let the

sea roar, and the fullness thereof.”  Let it 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. In common with the rest of the

creation, the sea has groaned and travailed until now; (Romans 8:22) is not

the time close at hand in which its hollow murmur shall be exchanged for an

outburst of joy? Will not every billow soon flash forth the praises of Him who

once trod the sea?

 

                        "Waft, waft, ye winds, His story!

                             And you ye waters, roll,

                        Till, like a sea of glory,

                            It spreads from pole to pole."

 

12   “Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein:” -  Let the cultivated

plains praise the Lord. Peace enables their owners to plough and sow and

reap, without fear of the rapine of invaders, and therefore in glad notes

they applaud Him whose empire is peace. Both men, and creatures that

graze the plain, and the crops themselves are represented as swelling the

praises of Jehovah, and the figure is both bold and warranted, for the day

shall come when every inhabited rood of ground shall yield its song, and

every farmstead shall contain a church - “then shall all the trees of the

wood rejoice.”  He does not say, let them rejoice, but they shall do so.

The faith of the psalmist turns itself from the expression of desire to the fully

assured prediction of the event. Groves have in old times stood shuddering at

the horrid orgies which have been performed within their shade, the time shall

come when they shall sing for joy because of the holy worship, the sounds of

which they shall hear. The bush is the stronghold of savage men and robbers,

but it shall be sanctified to retirement and devotion. Perhaps the psalmist was

thinking of the birds; so Keble must have supposed, for he versifies the passage

thus:

 

 

                        "Field exults and meadow fair,

                        With each bud and blossom there,

                        In the lonely woodlands now

                        Chants aloud each rusting bough."

 

13   “Before the LORD: for He cometh,” -  Even now He is near, His advent

should, therefore, be the cause of immediate rejoicing: already are we in His

presence, let us worship Him with delight - “for He cometh to judge the earth,”

to rule it with discretion; not to tax it, and control it by force, as kings often do,

but to preside as magistrates do whose business it is to see justice carried out

between man and man. All the world will be under the jurisdiction of this

great Judge, and before His bar ALL WILL BE SUMMONED TO APPEAR.

At this moment he is on the road, and the hour of his coming draweth nigh. His

great assize is proclaimed. Hear ye not the trumpets? His foot is on the threshold.

“He shall judge the world with righteousness,” -  His essential rectitude will

determine all causes and cases, there will be no bribery and corruption there, neither

can error or failure be found in His decisions - “and the people with His truth.”

or rather "the nations in faithfulness."  Honesty, veracity, integrity, will rule upon His

judgment seat. No nation shall be favored there, and none be made to suffer through

prejudice. The black man shall be tried by the same law as the white man, the

aboriginal shall have justice executed for him against his civilized exterminator, the

crushed and hunted Bushman shall have space to appeal against the Boer

who slaughtered his tribe, and the South Sea Islander shall gain attention to

his piteous complaint against the treacherous wretch who kidnapped him

from his home. There shall be true judgment given without fear or favor.

In all this let the nations be glad, and the universe rejoice.  In closing, let us

ourselves join in the song. Since the whole universe is to be clothed with smiles,

shall not we be glad? As John Howe observes, “Shall we not partake in this

common dutiful joy, and fall into concert with the adoring loyal chorus? Will we

cut ourselves off from this happy obsequious throng? And what should put a

pleasant face and aspect upon the whole world, shall it only leave our faces

covered with clouds, and a mournful sadness?"

 

 

 

 

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