96:0King David used this psalm when he brought the ark into Jerusalem. The ark was a special box. There were special things in it. These things gave the Jews help to remember their past story. Jews are people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children. Later, when David was dead, his son Solomon built the temple. This was the house of God in Jerusalem. Then the Jews kept the ark in the temple. But 400 years later enemies destroyed the temple. After 70 years, the Jews built it again. They changed the psalm a bit, to the psalm as we know it. They used it in their new temple. David's psalm is in 1 Chronicles 16:23-33.
Sing a New Song! (The third royal psalm)
96:1Psalm 96 is in 4 parts:
– Verses 1-3, the LORD's people must tell everybody about him.
– Verses 4-6, the LORD is greater than all the gods of the earth.
– Verses 7-9, everyone on earth must say that the LORD is great.
– Verses 10-13, not only people must say the LORD is great: earth, sky and sea must also say it!
1 Sing a new song to the LORD!
Sing to the LORD, all the world!
2 Sing to the LORD and say good things about him!
Every day, say that he has made us safe!
96:2‘He has made us safe’, in verse 2, tells us about the date of the psalm. Bible students suggest three dates:
– After David made his country safe, about 1000 BC
– In the time of Isaiah, after Assyria failed to destroy Jerusalem, about 700 BC
– After the exile, when the Jews came home from Babylon, about 500 BC
3 Tell every nation that he is very great!
Tell everybody the wonderful things that he has done!
4 Because the LORD is great, and everybody should say that he is great!
People should be more afraid of him than of all other gods.
5 Because all the gods of every country are false.
But the LORD made everything.
6 People that are near him can see that he is a very great king.
People that are in his house can see that he is strong and beautiful.
96:6Verses 4-6 tell us about God. They tell us that:
– He is great, so we should praise him. ‘Praise him’ means ‘tell him that he is great.’
– We need not be afraid of other gods, but we should be afraid of God.
– He is a great king. This is why the psalm is ‘a royal psalm’, because ‘royal’ means ‘as a king.’
4. He is strong and powerful.
5. He is also beautiful. God's house, the temple, was beautiful. This made people think that God was beautiful also. The same is true in many of our churches. Because they are beautiful, they make us remember that God is beautiful. But God will still be beautiful when there are no more church buildings!
7 Say to the LORD, you families of nations,
say to the LORD that he is glorious and powerful.
96:7The ‘families of nations’ in verse 7 makes us think that all people are as one big family. This is true because God made everybody. But the psalmist (the person who wrote the psalm) does not mean this. He means that all the people that love, work for and obey God are as one big family. The psalmist tells us again that the LORD is powerful and beautiful. But now he also says that he is glorious and holy.
8 Say that the LORD has a glorious name.
Bring a gift and come near his house.
9 Fall down in front of the LORD who is beautiful and holy.
Be afraid of him, everyone that lives on the earth.
10 Tell all the nations that the LORD is King!
He has fixed the world so that nothing can move it.
He will be a fair judge of the people.
11 Earth and sky, be happy!
Sea and everything in it, roar because you are happy!
12 Fields, you be happy as well, and everything in you!
Then, all the trees in the forests will sing because they are so happy!
13 They will sing to the LORD when he comes.
He will come to be a judge of the earth.
He will be a good judge and he will be fair to the people.