Sing a New Song!

(The third *royal psalm)

Psalm 96

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 96

Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the Hebrew Bible.

The notes explain words with a *star by them.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.


Jesus said, "Tell your Father in *Heaven that he is a great (God)". (Matthew 5:16)

Psalm 96

v1   Sing a new song to the *LORD!
  Sing to the *LORD, all the world!

v2   Sing to the *LORD and say good things about him!
  Every day, say that he has made us safe!

v3   Tell every *nation that he is very great!
  Tell everybody the *wonderful things that he has done!

v4   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.

v5   Because all the gods of every country are false.
  But the *LORD made everything.

v6   (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.

v7   Say to the *LORD, you families of *nations,
  say to the *LORD that he is *glorious and powerful.

v8   Say that the *LORD has a *glorious name.
  Bring a gift and come near his house.

v9   Fall down in front of the *LORD who is beautiful and *holy.
  Be afraid of him, everyone (that lives) on the earth.

v10   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.

v11   Earth and sky, be happy!
  Sea and everything in it, *roar (because you are happy!)

v12   Fields, you be happy as well, and everything in you!
  Then, all the trees in the forests will sing because they are so happy!

v13   (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.

The Story of Psalm 96

King 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.

What Psalm 96 means

Study Psalm 96 in 4 parts:

    verses 1 - 3, the *LORD's people must tell everybody about him.

LORD is a special name for God. Only his people use this name. His people agree (or covenant) to love him, work for him and obey him. So, LORD is the Covenant Name of God. But, in verses 1 and 3, "all the world" and "every nation" must sing to the LORD. A nation is a country with a government. This means that some people from every country have agreed to love, work for and obey him. "He has made us safe", in verse 2, tells us about the date of the psalm. Bible students suggest three dates:

  1) after David made his country safe, about 1 000 B.C.

  2) in the time of Isaiah, after Assyria failed to destroy Jerusalem, about 700 B.C.

  3) after the exile, when the *Jews came home from Babylon, about 500 B.C.

The exile was when the Babylonians took the *Jews away from Judah. They took them to Babylon. They were there from 606-536 B.C. B.C. means "years Before Christ came to the earth". Most Bible students think that David wrote the psalm, but that someone re-wrote it (changed it) after the exile. In verse 3, "wonderful things" are things that surprise us. They make us think, "How did God do that?"

    verses 4 - 6, the *LORD is greater than all the gods of the earth.

There are many gods in the world, but they are all false gods. Isaiah tells us that men "make a god", (Isaiah 44:15). There is only one God who really is alive, "the *LORD (that) made everything", verse 5. Men did not make him; he made men! Verses 4-6 tell more about God. They tell us that:

  1) he is great, so we should praise him. "Praise him" means "tell him that he is great".

  2) we need not be afraid of other gods, but we should be afraid of God.

  3) 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. Godís 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!

    verses 7 - 9, everyone on earth must say that the *LORD is great.

The "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.

"Glorious" means "*wonderful and shining very much". Psalm 84:11 says, "The *LORD God is a sun". It does not mean that God is the sun, but that he shines as a sun shines. "Holy" means that he is "very, very good". He has never done anything that is wrong. The "gift" in verse 8 is a special *Hebrew word. The *Jews spoke Hebrew and wrote the psalms in Hebrew. The word is "minchah". It is a gift that has no blood in it. This means that it is not an animal that they had killed. "Near his house" means the open spaces round the *temple. There was no *temple when David wrote the psalm, but there was when another *psalmist *re-wrote it. Christians have no *temple, but see themselves as a *temple where their *Lord lives. Verse 9 has been difficult for many translators! There are three ideas in it:

  1) fall down in front of the *LORD. Some Bible students translate "fall down" as "lie down on your front"; other students translate it as "worship". "Worship" means "tell God that he is much greater than you are, but you love him". Some people worship with words, other people by going on their knees, yet other people by lying flat on their fronts. Our translation uses the third of these.

  2) the *LORD is beautiful and *holy. Some Bible students think that the *Hebrew means that God is beautiful and *holy. Other students think that the people who *worship him must wear beautiful clothes. Our translation uses the first of these.

  3) be afraid of the *LORD. This tells us that God really is much more powerful than we are. *Worship must have love and being afraid in it. Another word for this kind of "being afraid" is "awe".

    verses 10 - 13, not only people must say the *LORD is great: earth, sky and sea must also say it!

The last part of the psalm says that the *LORD is king and that one day he will come and rule the earth. He made (or fixed, verse 10) the earth in its place. Everything must be full of joy (be very happy). This means not only people, but also things. It means the earth and the sky. The *Hebrew word here for "the sky" is "the heavens". "Heaven" means two things in the Bible. It can mean the sky, or it can mean the place where God lives. Here it means the sky, with all its suns, moons and stars. The sea includes everything that lives in it. If you have heard the sea, you will know the kind of "roar" (or loud noise) that it makes. Fields and everything in them must be happy also; so must the forests, with all their trees. For 2 000 years Christians have remembered that Jesus was King on a Tree. The tree was the Cross of Calvary, where he died. At the end of the psalm, in verse 13, the *psalmist becomes a prophet. This means that he says what the *LORD God will do. He will come to the earth and he will be a great and fair judge. A judge decides who has done right and who has done wrong. The "right" people are those who love, work for and obey the *LORD. The "wrong" people are those who do not do this. We must choose ourselves which group we are in.

Something to do

1. Tell God that you want to love, work for and obey him. You will then be one of his people.

2. Look at some of the verses in this psalm and then look at the verses in brackets from other psalms. Verse 1 (33:3; 98:1); verse 3 (9:11; 105:1); verse 4 (48:1; 95:3); verse 10 (9:7-8; 98:9). If you have Isaiah, do the same with that. Verse 2 (Isaiah 52:7); verse 3 (60:6); verse 5 (40:18-20); verses 11-13 (41:19; 44:23; 49:13).


© 2001-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

June 2002

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