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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 96

 

 

Verses 1-13

This is a psalm of David, as appears from 1 Chronicles 16:23-33. It is highly prophetic, and celebrates the full triumph of Christ over all idols, and over the gentile world. It has no title in the Hebrew; but the LXX read, “A psalm of David when the house was built after the captivity.” Thus a new title was given to the old psalm, when used on a new occasion. This seems to have been the case with many other psalms.

Psalms 96:9. The beauty of holiness; that is, in the glory or sanctity of his courts. The word קדשׁ kadesh, holy, signifies order, harmony, and perfection, which must pervade the worship of God. Worshippers should think before whom they bow.

Psalms 96:10. Say—the Lord reigneth. Justin Martyr complains that the Jews had in some copies of the LXX, cut off the adjection in this verse: απο του ξυλον, by the tree, meaning the wood of the cross. So this text is cited by Tertullian, by Augustine, by Arnobius, and in the old Roman Psalter. Regnavit à ligno Deus, God hath reigned from the tree. This is a grand idea, for on the cross he triumphed over principalities and powers.

Psalms 96:12. Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice. When the Hebrew choir played and sung in the country, the rocks and woods echoed back the song, anticipating the future joys of the church, when the gentiles shall be converted to the faith.

REFLECTIONS.

David, irradiated with a beam of evangelical glory, was here carried away in spirit to future times. He published this psalm on account of temporal blessings, 1 Chronicles 16.; but like Isaiah, he connected them with blessings spiritual and eternal: chap. 55. For these blessings he calls upon Israel to sing a new song; but the impetuosity of the Spirit led him to add a portion for the gentiles. Sing unto the Lord all the earth.

He exhorts his nation to declare the glorious marvels of the Lord, that the gentiles might be converted. So the wonders of the Lord towards Israel, and the wonders of grace in the redemption of the world were published in all nations by the apostles, and the energies of converting grace accompanied the word. The contrast between the living God and dumb idols, between his glory and their shame, is urged as a farther motive for doing this; for all the gods of the gentiles were mere idols, vain and useless figures; but the Lord made the world. David saw in the Spirit the full triumph of the gospel over the pagan divinities. He saw the holy apostles carrying the banner of the cross over a prostrate idolatry, and scorning to compound with devils. Hence he exhorts them to give unto the Lord glory and strength, to bring to him the offerings of a spiritual homage, and worship him in the beauty of holiness. The ceremonial devotion had an elegant splendour, but its greatest glory arose from its purity; so we are called to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, and then all the beauty of holiness shall array the soul.

When the converted nations and kindreds of the gentiles shall give glory to God, the heavens shall rejoice and the earth be glad. The fields shall look more gay, and the trees of the wood, as though elevated to intelligence, and partakers with man in the glory of redemption, shall repeat in transporting echoes the songs of salvation.

The closing theme is, that Messiah the King cometh to judge the earth. Let then the infidel tremble, let the oppressor be appalled, but let the saints rejoice. And whether this judging respects vengeance on the enemies of the church, or the final judgment, is a question which sacred criticism does not dare at present to decide; but all provisional decisions of heaven on the ungodly shall be realized in the great day which cometh on all the earth.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 96:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/psalms-96.html. 1835.

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