Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
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." See the sixteenth chapter of the
first book of the Chronicles. 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. It thus makes a pair with the Ninety-fifth Psalm. It is a grand
MISSIONARY HYMN, and it is a wonder that Jeers 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, 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.
DIVISION. We will make none, for the song is one and
indivisible, a garment of praise without seam, woven from the top throughout.
Verse 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
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. 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.
Verse 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, 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.
Verse 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 honour of her religion, the glory of
her Lord? It is to be feared that too often the name of the Lord Jesus has been
dishonoured 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 marvellous
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 marvellous works; and a really living, self denying church
would solemnly resolve that right speedily they fill 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.
Verse 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 honour
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 fervour, by their blinded rotaries, 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.
Verse 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.
Verse 6. Honour and majesty are before him. Men can but
mimic these things; their pompous pageants are but the pretence of greatness.
Honour and majesty are with him and with him alone. 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;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.
Verse 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, 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 honour. "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,
recognise 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."
Verse 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 honour 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 endeavour. 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." The time will
come when from all ranks and nations the Lord will receive gifts when they
gather together for his worship. 0 long expected day begin!
Verse 9. 0 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!
Verse 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, his rule is fraught with untold blessings, his yoke is easy, and his
burden is light. 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.
Verse 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 favour, 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 fulness 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; 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."
Verse 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."
Verse 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 bc 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 favoured there, and none be made to suffer through prejudice.
The black man shall be tried by the same law as his white master, the aboriginal
shall have justice executed for him against his civilised 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 favour. 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
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. What has been said of Psalm 67 may be fitly
applied to the present psalm. We need not hesitate to add that it is a
millennial anthem. It accords with the condition of the world when Christ shall
sit enthroned in the willing loyalty of our race. The nations join in an acclaim
of praise to him as their rightful Judge and King. There is a unanimity in the
song, as if it ascended from a world purged into a temple of holiness, and whose
inhabitants were indeed a royal priesthood, with one heart to make Jesus king,
with one voice to sound forth one peal of melody in praise of the name above
every name. Fix the eye for a moment on the precious vision of which we
thus catch a glimpse. It holds true to the deepest principles of our nature,
that what we contemplate as possible, much more what we anticipate as ceertain,
lends us the very hope and energy conducive to its realisation. On the contrary,
despair paralyses effort. Is it on this account that everywhere in prophecy, old
and new, there floats before us the ideal of a recovered and rejoicing world, at
times transfigured into a loftier scene, the new heavens and new earth wherein
dwelleth righteousness? So largely did this thought imbue the prophetic mind,
that the language of Paul warms into the animation of poetry, when even "the
creature itself, "according to his own vivid personification, like some noble
bird, drooping under the weight of its chain, with neck outstretched and eyeball
distended, is described as looking down into the vista of coming time for its
deliverance from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons
of God (Ro 8:19). He hastens to add, that "we are saved by hope." It is true of
the soul individually, we are saved by hope. It is true of our race
collectively, if ever a millennium is to dawn upon it, we are saved by such a
hope. Our earth may be in ruins meanwhile, blackness on the sky, barrenness on
the soil, because sin is everywhere; but a change is promised. What we hope for,
we labour for all the more that our hope is no dream of fancy, but has its basis
in the science and certainty of absolute truth. "For as the earth hinges forth
her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring
forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth
before all the nations." (Isa 61:11) The tuning of the instrument is sometimes
heard before the music comes. The mother teaches her child to lisp a hymn before
he comprehends its full scope and meaning. And so here, in this holy psalm, the
Jerusalem from above, the mother of us all, trains us to the utterance of a song
suitable to seasons of millennial glory, when the Moloch of oppression, the
Mammon of our avarice, the Ashtaroth of fiery lust, every erring creed, every
false religion, shall have given place to the worship of the one true and living
God--to the faith and love of Christ. "Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let
all the peoples praise thee." W.H. Gould, in "The Mission Hymn of the Hebrew
Church: a Sermon." 1865.
Whole Psalm. This psalm is entitled in the Septuagint,
"A Hymn of David; when the Temple was rebuilt after the Captivity, "
and this appears to be a true description of it; for the substance of it is
found in 1Ch 16:23-33, where it is described as having been delivered by David
into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord when the Ark was
brought up to Zion. David's Psalm here receives a new name, and is called a
new song (sir chadash), because new mercies of God were now to be
celebrated; mercies greater than David had ever received, even when he brought
the Ark to Zion. They who now sang the old song, which had thus become a new
song, identified themselves with David, and identified him with themselves.
Whole Psalm. Subject. --Call to praise, in view of Christ's
second advent and glorious reign. --To apply it. --Look forward to the
glorious day of the Lord's coming; and realize its approach that you may prepare
for it. A. R. C. Dallas.
Verse 1. O sing unto the LORD a new song, etc. "A new
song, " unknown to you before. Come, all ye nations of the wide earth, who, up
to this hour, have been giving your worship to dead gods that were no gods at
all; come and give your hearts to the true and only God in this new song!
Verse 1. A new song. It must be "a new canticle, "a
beautiful canticle, and elegantly composed; also a canticle for fresh favours:
in like manner, a canticle befitting men who have been regenerated, in whom
avarice has been supplanted by charity; and finally, a canticle not like that of
Moses, or Deborah, or any of the old canticles that could not be sung outside
the land of promise, according to Ps 137:4; "How shall we sing the LORD'S song
in a strange land?" but a new canticle that may be sung all over the world; and
he, therefore, adds, Sing unto the LORD, all the earth, not only Judea,
but the whole world. Bellarmine.
Verse 1. New. The word is used to describe that which is
delightful, exquisite, precious, etc. Martin Geier.
Verse 1. New. New things are generally most approved, and
especially in songs; for Pindar praises old wine and new songs. John
Verse 1. A new song. Our old songs were those of pride, of
gluttony, of luxury, in hope of gain, prosperity, or harm to others; our "new
song" is of praise, reverence, and obedience, and love to God, in newness of
life, in the Spirit that quickeneth, no longer in the letter that killeth, but
keepeth that new commandment, that we love one another, not with the narrow
patriotism and fellow feeling of a small tribe, or a mere national church, but
with a citizenship which embraces all the whole earth. Neale and
Verse 1. Sing unto the LORD. We find it thrice said, sing
unto the Lord, that we may understand that we are to sing unto Him
with mind, and tongue, and deed. For all these things must be joined together,
and the life ought to correspond with the mouth and mind. As Abbot Absalom says,
When the speech does not jar with the life, there is sweet
harmony. Le Blanc.
Verse 1. All the earth. It is a missionary hymn for
all ages of the church; and it becomes more and more appropriate to our times in
proportion as the heathen begin to respond to the call, "Sing unto the Lord a
new song, "and in proportion as we find in the melancholy condition of the
church at home occasion to look with a hopeful eye towards the heathen world.
E. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 2. From day to day. Continually; always. It is a fit
subject for unceasing praise. Every man should praise God every day--on each
returning morning, and on every evening--for the assurance that there is a way of
salvation provided for him, and that he may be happy for ever. If we had right
feelings, this would be the first thought which would burst upon the mind each
morning, irradiating, as with sunbeams, all around us; and it would be the last
thought which would linger in the soul as we lie down at night, and close our
eyes in slumber making us grateful, calm, happy, as we sink to rest, for whether
we wake or not in this world, we may be for ever happy. Albert Barnes.
Verse 2. From day to day. Other news delights us only at
first hearing; but the good news of our redemption is sweet from day to day,
ac si in codera die redemptio fuisset opereta, saith Kimchi here, as if
it were done but today. Tam recens mihi nunc Christus est, saith Luther,
ac si hac hora fudisset sanguinem, Christ is now as fresh unto me as if
he had shed his blood but this very hour. John Trapp.
Verse 3. Declare. The corresponding word is a
book;and the participle is often rendered a scribe, a writer. Ps 45:1.
The verb is rendered, tell, show forth, declare. The variety of verbs used in Ps
96:1-3, proves that we are to employ all proper means for making known the
Saviour. One of these methods is by writing. W. S. Plumer.
Verse 3. Declare his glory --what a glorious person the
Messiah is; the brightness of his Father's glory; having all the perfections of
Deity in him; how the glory of God appears in him, and in all that he has done;
and especially in the work of redemption, in which the glory of divine wisdom,
power, justice, truth, and faithfulness, love, grace, and mercy, is richly
displayed; say what glory he is advanced unto, having done his work, being
highly exalted, set at the right hand of God, and crowned with glory and honour,
and what a fulness of grace there is in him, for the supply of his people; and
what a glory is on him, which they shall behold to all eternity. John
Verse 3. His glory shines from every ray of light that
reaches us from a thousand stars; it sparkles from the mountain tops that
reflect the earliest and retain the last rays of the rising and the setting sun;
it spreads over the expanse of the sea, and speaks in the murmur of its restless
waves; it girdles the earth with a zone of light, and flings over it an aureole
of beauty. In the varied forms of animal tribes; in the relations of our world
to other worlds, in the revolutions of planets, in the springing of flowers, in
the fall of waters, and in the flight of birds; in the sea, the rivers, and the
air; in heights and depths, in wonders and mysteries, --Christ wears the crown,
sways the sceptre, and receives from all a tribute to his sovereignty. We cannot
augment it; we cannot add one ray of light to the faintness of a distant star
nor give wings to an apterous insect, nor change a white hair into black. We can
unfold, but not create; we can adore, but not increase; we can recognise the
footprints of Deity, but not add to them. John Cumming in "From Patmos to
Verse 3. Declare his glory among the heathen, etc. It is a
part of the commission given to the ministers of the gospel, not only to teach
their congregations concerning Christ, but also to have a care that they who
never did hear of him, may know what he is, what he hath done and suffered, and
what good may be had by his mediation. Nothing so glorious to God, nothing so
wonderful in itself, as is the salvation of man by Christ; to behold God saving
his enemies by the incarnation, sufferings, and obedience of Christ the eternal
Son of God: Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all
people. David Dickson.
Verse 3. Declare his glory. It is his glory which
should be proclaimed, not the learning, ability, and eloquence of the orator who
professes to speak for Him; it is his glory, the loving beauty, the
attractiveness of his gospel, the lavish promises to repentant sinners, the
blessedness of heaven, which should be the chief themes of discourse; not
threats, menaces, sermons on hell or torment to affright men, and at best make
them God's trembling slaves, not his loving friends. The preaching is to be
unto all people, in obscure country districts, amongst unpolished and
illiterate congregations, and not to be confined, as fashionable preachers like
to confine it, to the cultivated and critical audiences of the capital. Hugo,
quoted by Neale and Littledale.
Verse 3. His glory. What he had before called
salvation, he now names glory, and afterwards wonders. And
since this salvation, whereby the human race is redeemed from eternal death and
damnation, is glorious and full of wonders, it is therefore worthy of admiration
and praise. Mollerus.
Verse 3. His wonders. What a wonderful person he is, for he
is God manifest in the flesh; what wonderful love he has shown in his
incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death; what amazing miracles he wrought,
and what a wonderful work he performed; the work of our redemption, the wonder
of men and angels; declare his wonderful resurrection from the dead, his
ascension to heaven, sitting at the right hand of God, and intercession for his
people; the wonderful effusion of his Spirit, and the conquests of his grace,
and the enlargement of his kingdom in the world; as also what wonders will be
wrought by him when he appears a second time; how the dead will be raised and
all will be judged. John Gill.
Verse 5. For all the gods of the nations are idols.
Nothings, nonentities, a favourite description of idols in Isaiah's later
prophecies. See eg Isa 41:24, and compare Le 19:4 26:1, 1Co 8:4-6 10:19. A less
probable etymology of the Hebrew word makes it a diminutive of (la) El, analogous to
godlings as an expression of contempt. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 5. The gods of the nations are idols. Their Elohim are
elilim. See 1Ch 16:26. The word elilim occurs in two places in the
Psalms, here and Ps 97:7. It is used most frequently by Isaiah, and properly
signifies nothings, as St. Paul says, "an idol is nothing."
(1Co 8:4.) Chr. Wordsworth.
Verse 5. The Lord made the heavens. Ps 96:5 is a notandum.
What a tribute to astronomy is it that the Lord is so often done homage to as
having made the heavens! Let the theology of nature be blended with the theology
of conscience--a full recognition of the strength and the glory which shine
palpably forth in the wonders of creation, with the spiritual offerings of holy
worship and holy service. Thomas Chalmers.
Oh, if so much of beauty doth reveal
Itself in every vein of life and nature,
How beautiful must be the Source itself,
The Ever Bright One! Esaias Tegner, 1782-1847.
Verse 6. In his sanctuary. That is to say (1) his ark,
tabernacle, or temple, as many writers consider. Kimchi, as quoted by Muis,
suggests that where joy or beauty is mentioned as being in his temple, it is set
in opposition to the perpetual grief of the Philistines when the ark was in
their cities. They saw the Lord's strength, but not his beauty. (2) Others refer
the word sanctuary to the church of Christ, which, as Munster remarks, is
adorned with heavenly ornaments, and was typified by the magnificence of
Solomon's temple. Certainly it is in the church that the spiritual power and
beauty of the Lord are to be most clearly seen. (3) The passage may refer to
heaven, where the divine presence is more peculiarly manifest. C. H. S.
Verse 7. Ye kindreds of the people. There is a peculiar
force, observes an early commentator Cassiodorus, in this phrase,
"kindreds of the people, "much more than if we had the word
"peoples" alone; for in every nation there are at all times strangers,
aliens, sojourners abiding permanently or for a time, but not reckoned among the
natives; while the phrase here includes all such, and provides that none shall
be shut out because of his origin. Neale and Littledale.
Verse 7. Ye kindreds of the people. He calls upon them to
come in kindreds or families, in allusion to the Jewish custom of families
coming by themselves, on the several festival days to worship in Jerusalem; and
the Holy Ghost gives us here to understand that such custom was to serve as a
model for Christians, whose families should unite in coming to the church to
give glory and honour to God for all the wonderful things he accomplished in the
redemption of man; for it was not by our own industry, or by our merits, that we
have come to grace, and to be the adopted children of God, but through God's
mercy, to whom, therefore, is due all honour and glory. Bellarmine.
Verse 8. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name. It
is a debt; and a debt, in equity, must be paid. The honour due to his name is to
acknowledge him to be holy, just, true, powerful: "The Lord, the faithful God,
""good, merciful, long suffering, "etc. Defraud not his name of the least
honour. Adam Clarke.
Verse 8. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name. Is
all the glory due unto God's name, and ought it, in strict justice, to have been
ascribed unto him by men, ever since man began to exist? How immeasurably great
then is the debt which our world has contracted, and under the burden of which
it now groans! During every day and every hour which has elapsed since the
apostasy of man, this debt has been increasing; for every day and every hour all
men ought to have given unto Jehovah the glory which is due to his name. But no
man has ever done this fully. And a vast proportion of our race have never done
it at all. Now the difference between the tribute which men ought to have paid
to God and that which they actually have paid constitutes the debt of which we
are speaking. How vast, then, how incalculable is it! Edward Payson.
Verse 8. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name.
Every glory will not serve the turn, but such glory as is proper and peculiar
for that God we serve. It is a stated rule in Scripture that, respects to God
must be proportioned to the nature of God. God is a spirit, therefore
will be worshipped in spirit and truth. God is a God of peace,
therefore lift up pure hands, without wrath and doubting. God is a
holy God, therefore will be sanctified. They which worship the
sun, among the heathens, they used a flying horse, as a thing most suitable to
the swift motion of the sun. Well, then, they that will glorify and honour God
with a glory due to his name, must sanctify him as well as honour him. Why? For
"God is glorious in holiness, "Ex 15:11. This is that which God counteth to be
his chief excellency, and the glory which he will manifest among the sons of
men. Thomas Minton.
Verse 8. Bring an offering. This is language taken from the
temple worship, and means that God is to be worshipped, in the manner which he
has prescribed, as a suitable expression of his majesty. The word here rendered
"offering" --hxkm, minkhah --is that which is commonly used to
denote a bloodless offering, a thank offering. Albert Barnes.
Verse 9. In the beauty of holiness, or, in the ornament of
holiness, alluding to the splendid robes of eastern worshippers. W.
Verse 9. The beauty of holiness. Shall I call
holiness an attribute? Is it not rather the glorious combination of all
his attributes into one perfect whole? As all his attributes proceed from the
absolute, so all again converge and meet in holiness. As from the insufferable
white light of the Absolute they all seem to diverge and separate into prismatic
hues, so they all seem again to converge and meet and combine in the dazzling
white radiance of his holiness. This, therefore, is rather the intense
whiteness, purity, clearness, the infinite lustre and splendour of his perfect
nature--like a gem without flaw, without stain, and without colour. All of his
attributes are glorious, but in this we have a combination of all into a still
more glorious whole. It is for this reason that it is so frequently in Scripture
associated with the Divine beauty. The poetic nature of the psalmist is exalted
to ecstasy in contemplation of the "beauty of holiness, "the
"beauty of the Lord." Beauty is a combination of elements according to
the laws of harmony; the more beautiful the parts or elements, and the more
perfect the harmonious combination, the higher the beauty. How high and
glorious, therefore, must be the beauty of this attribute which is the perfect
combination of all his infinite perfections! You see, then, why this attribute is awful to us. In the ideal
man all the faculties and powers, mental, moral, and bodily, work together in
perfect harmony, making sweet music--the image of God is clear and pure in the
human heart. But, alas! how far are we from the ideal! In the actual man the
purity is stained, the beauty is defaced, the harmony is changed into jarring
discord, "like sweet bells jangled out of tune." How it came so, we are not now
inquiring. We all feel that it is so. Therefore is this attribute so awful to
us. It is the awfulness of absolute purity in the presence of impurity; it is
the awfulness of perfect beauty in the presence of deformity; it is the
awfulness of honour in the presence of dishonour and shame; in one word, it is
the awfulness of holiness in the presence of sinfulness. How, then, shall we
approach him before whom angels bow and archangels veil their faces--him in whose
sight the white radiance of heaven itself is stained with impurity? Joseph Le
Coute, in "Religion and Science, "1874.
Verse 9. The beauty of holiness. The religion of the gospel
of Christ is "the beauty of holiness, "as it concerns its Author, its
plan, its fruits. First, As it concerns its Author. Whatever we can
understand as meant by beauty or holiness, we see in the attributes of God,
whether we consider them in all their harmony, or contemplate any one of them in
particular... Secondly. As to its plan. Survey the gospel where we will, or
regard whatever we can that is revealed concerning it, we find it to be all
"beauty"; and we cannot call it by a more appropriate name than "the
beauty of holiness." Thirdly, As to its fruits. There is a
holy separation, a beautiful character of holiness, a separation as to
character, feelings, and conduct; these are all the various fruits of grace; and
so the man becomes beautiful in holiness. Leigh Richmond, 1772-1827.
Verse 10. Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth. This
clause reads in the old Latin version, "Tell it out among the heathen, that the
Lord reigneth from the tree." Justin Martyr accuses the Jews, that they
have erased the words "a ligno", apo
xulou, which are wanting in the original
and in the Septuagint. Mrs. Charles renders the verse thus:
"The truth that David learned to sing,
Its deep fulfilment here attains;
Tell all the earth the Lord is king!
Lo, from the cross, a King he reigns!"
--From "Christ in Song. Hymns of Immanuel, with Notes by P. Schaff,"
Verse 10. Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth. It
is not enough to feel desire;we must "say among the heathen, the
Lord reigneth." There is a commandment given us of the Load to "go into all the
world, and preach the gospel to every creature" --to tell them what Christ hath
taught us--to say to them, in fact, "The LORD reigneth." . . . We go among the heathen, and say, "the Lord reigneth" --point
them to all the various objects in creation --to the stars of heaven, to
the beauties of vegetation, to the daily occurrences of providence, to
the body fearfully and wonderfully made, to its continual preservation and
supply. We may easily take our text from every thing by which we are surrounded,
and say, "The Lord reigneth." But we must not stop here. It is well to have
right views of God as the Creator; but it is only as we view him as the God of
Redemption, that we can praise him "in the beauty of holiness." Leigh
Verse 10. Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth must
be the Christian's as it was the Israelite's motto. The earliest preaching of
our Saviour and his disciples was the preaching of the gospel of the
kingdom. It was because all power was given unto him in heaven
and in earth, that, after his resurrection from the dead, Jesus sent
forth his apostles to go and teach all nations. The substance of the apostles'
subsequent preaching was, confessedly, the kingdom of God. J. F.
Verse 10. Say among the heathen. Go, ye that are already
become proselytes unto him, and publish everywhere, in all countries, that the
Lord Christ is the sovereign of the world, who alone can make it happy:
for he shall settle those in peace that submit unto his government: and they
shall not be so disturbed as they were wont with wars and tumults: he shall
administer equal justice unto all: and neither suffer the good to be unrewarded,
nor the evil to escape unpunished. Symon Patrick.
Verse 10. The world also, etc. The natural world shall be
established; the standing of the world, and its stability, is owing to the
mediation of Christ. Sin had given it a shock, and still threatens it; but Christ,
as redeemer, upholds all things, and preserves the course of nature. The world
of mankind shall be established, shall be preserved, till all that belong to the
election of grace are called in, though a guilty, provoking world. The Christian
religion, as far as it is embraced, shall establish states and kingdoms, and
preserve good order among men. The church in the world shall be established,
that it cannot be moved, for it is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell
shall never prevail against it; it is a "kingdom that cannot be shaken."
Verse 10. It shall not be moved. When we learn from the
records of geology, as they are inscribed upon the rocks, how numerous and
thorough have been the revolutions of the surface and the crust of the globe in
past ages; how often and how long the present dry land has been alternately
above and beneath the ocean; how frequently the crust of the globe has been
fractured, bent, and dislocated; now lifted upward, and now thrown downward, and
now folded by lateral pressure; how frequently melted matter has been forced
through its strata and through its fissures to the surface; in short, how every
particle of the accessible portions of the globe has undergone entire
metamorphoses; and especially when we recollect what strong evidence there is
that oceans of liquid matter exist beneath the solid crust, and that probably
the whole interior of the earth is in that condition, with expansive energy
sufficient to rend the globe into fragments; when we review all these facts, we
cannot but feel that the condition of the surface of the globe must be one of
great insecurity and liability to change. But it is not so. On the contrary, the
present state of the globe is one of permanent uniformity and entire security,
except those comparatively slight catastrophes which result from earthquakes,
volcanoes, and local deluges. Even the climate has experienced no general change
within historic times, and the profound mathematical researches of Baron Fourier
have demonstrated that, even though the internal parts of the globe are in an
incandescent state, beneath a crust thirty or forty miles, the temperature of
the surface has long since ceased to be affected by the melted central mass;
that it is not now more than one seventeenth of a degree higher than it would be
if the interior were ice; and that hundreds of thousands of years will not see
it lowered, from this cause, more than the seventeenth part of a degree. And as
to the apprehension that the entire crust of the globe may be broken through,
and fall into the melted matter beneath, just reflect what solidity and strength
there must be in a mass of hard rock from fifty to one hundred miles in
thickness, and your fears of such a catastrophe will probably vanish. Now, such a uniformity of climate and security from general
ruin are essential to the comfort and existence of animal nature. But it must
have required infinite wisdom and benevolence so to arrange and balance the
mighty elements of change and ruin which exist in the earth, that they should
hold one another in check, and make the world a quiet, unchanged, and secure
dwelling place for so many thousands of years. Surely that wisdom must have been
guided by infinite benevolence. Edward Hitchcock, in "The Religion of
Verse 11. Let the heavens rejoice. As the whole creation,
both animate and inanimate, has groaned beneath the weight of the curse, so
shall the whole creation partake of the great deliverance." The Speaker's
Verse 11. Let the sea roar.
Thou paragon of elemental powers,
Mystery of waters--never slumbering sea!
Impassioned orator with lips sublime,
Whose waves are arguments which prove a God!
Verses 11-12. God will graciously accept the holy joys and
praises of all the hearty well wishers to the kingdom of Christ, be their
capacity never so mean. The sea can but roar, and how the
trees of the wood can show that they rejoice, I know not; but "he
that searcheth the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, " and
understands the language, the broken language of the weakest. Matthew
Verses 11-13. These verses are full of comprehensive beauty
and power. They present the gathering together of everything under the confessed
dominion of the reigning Christ. Things in heaven, as well as things on earth,
rejoice together in the acknowledged blessing of the Lord of peace. The Psalm is
throughout a very sweet strain of millennial prophecy. Arthur Pridham.
Verses 11-13. Nothing can excel that noble exultation of
universal nature in the 96th Psalm, which has been so often commended, where the
whole animate and inanimate creation unite in the praises of their Maker. Poetry
here seems to assume the highest tone of triumph and exultation, and to revel,
if I may so express myself, in all the extravagance of joy. Robert Lowth.
Verses 11-13. Although there are some who by heaven
understand angels;by the earth, men;by the sea, troublesome
spirits;by trees and fields, the Gentiles who were
to believe, yet this need not be thought strange, because such
prosopopaeias are frequent in Scripture. Adam Clarke.
Verse 12. Let the fields be joyful, etc. Let the husbandmen,
and the shepherds, and all that dwell in the fields leap for joy; and the
woodmen and foresters shout for joy, to see the happy day approaching; when all
the idols that are worshipped there shall be thrown down together with their
groves. Symon Patrick.
Verse 12. Rejoice. The verb wgr expresses the vibratory
motion, either of a dancer's feet, or of a singer's lip. Samuel Horsley.
Verse 12. The trees of the wood.
His praise, ye winds, that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye Pines,
With every plant, in sign of worship wave. John Milton.
Verses 12-13. He cometh, etc.
It chanced upon the merry, merry Christmas eve,
I went sighing past the church across the moorland dreary--
"Oh! never sin and want and woe this earth will leave,
And the bells but mock the wailing round, they sing so cheery.
How long O Lord! how long before thou come again?
Still in cellar, and in garret, and on moorland dreary
The orphans moan, and widows weep, and poor men toil in vain,
Till earth is sick of hope deferred, though Christmas bells be cheery."
Then arose a joyous clamour from the wild fowl on the mere,
Beneath the stars, across the snow, like clear bells ringing.
And a voice within cried. "Listen! Christmas carols even here!
Though thou be dumb, yet over their work the stars and snows are singing.
Blind! I live, I love, I reign: and all the nations through
With the thunder of my judgments even now are ringing;
Do thou fulfil thy work but as yon wild fowl do,
Thou wilt heed no less the wailing, yet hear through it angels singing."
--Charles Kingsley, 1858.
Verse 13. For he cometh, for he cometh. Because the thing
was hard to be believed, the Prophet asserts twice that God should come, that he
should be Judge and King, and Governor of all. Martinus Bucerus in
Verse 13. He cometh. Not awby, "he shall come; "but
cometh; "to show how near the time is. It is almost daybreak, and the court is
ready to sit: "The Judge standeth at the door, "Jas 5:9. Thomas Watson.
Verse 13. To judge. Vatablus remarks that to judge is
the word used instead of to reign, judicare pro regere, because judges in
the early days of the Holy Land exercised the power both of kings and
magistrates. The Lord comes to be to all nations a wiser judge than Samuel, a
greater champion than Samson, a mightier deliverer than Gideon. C. H. S.
Verse 13. He cometh to judge the earth. That is, to put
earth in order, to be its Gideon and Samson, to be its ruler, to fulfil
all that the Book of Judges delineates of a judge's office. It is, as
Hengstenberg says, "a gracious judging, "not a time of mere adjudication of
causes or pronouncing sentences--it is a day of jubilee. It is the happiest day
our world has ever seen. Who would not long for it? Who is there that does not
pray for it? It is the day of the Judge's glory, as well as of our world's
freedom--the day when "the judgement of this world" (Joh 12:31 16:11),
which his cross began and made sure, is completed by the total suppression of
Satan's reign, and the removal of the curse. All this is anticipated here; and
so we entitle this Psalm, The glory due to him who cometh to judge the
earth. Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 13. He cometh to judge the earth, etc. In this new
song they take up the words of Enoch, the seventh from Adam (Jude 1:14), who
preached of the Coming of the Lord to judge the world. Chr. Wordsworth.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. The novelties of grace.
1. A new salvation.
2. Creates a new heart.
3. Suggests a new song.
4. Secures new testimonies, and these,
5. Produce new converts.
1. The end desired--to see the earth singing unto the Lord, and
blessing his name.
2. The means suggested--the showing forth his salvation from day
to day; declaring his glory, etc.
3. The certainly of its accomplishment. The Lord hath said it.
"O sing, "etc. When he commands earth must obey. G. R.
Verses 1-3. The progress of zeal.
1. The spring of expansive desire, Ps 96:1.
2. The streamlet of practical daily effort, Ps 96:2.
3. The broad river of foreign missions, Ps 96:3. C. D.
Verses 1-9. We are to honour God.
1. With songs, Ps 96:1-2.
2. With sermons, Ps 96:3.
3. With religious services, Ps 96:7-9.
Verses 3 (first clause).
1. Declare among the heathen the glory of God's perfections,
that they may acknowledge him as the true God.
2. Declare the glory of his salvation, that they may accept him
as their only Redeemer.
3. Declare the glory of his providence, that they may confide
in him as their faithful guardian.
4. Declare the glory of his word, that they may prize it as
their chief treasure.
3. Declare the glory of his service, that they may choose it as
their noblest occupation.
4. Declare the glory of his residence, that they may seek it as
their best home. William Jackson.
1. What the gospel is, "God's glory, ""his wonders."
2. What shall we do with it--declare it.
3. To whom. "Among the heathen, "all people.
Verse 3 (last clause). His wonders among the
1. The wonders of his Being, to inspire them with awe.
2. The wonders of his creation, to fill them with amazement.
3. The wonders of his judgments, to restrain them with fear.
4. The wonders of his grace, to allure them with love. W.
Verses 4-6. Missionary sermon.
1. Contrast Jehovah of the Bible with gods of human device.
2. Decide between divine worship and idolatry.
3. Appeal for effort on behalf of idolaters. C. D.
Verse 6. Honour and majesty are before him.
1. As emanations from him.
2. As excellencies ascribed to him.
3. As characteristics of what is done by him.
4. As marks of all that dwell near him. W. Jackson.
Verse 6 (latter clause). --What we may see in God's sanctuary
(strength, and beauty). What we may obtain there, Ps 90:17 (strength and
beauty). C. D.
Verse 8. Jehovah possesses a nature and character peculiar
to himself; he sustains various offices and relations, and he has performed many
works which he alone could perform. On all these accounts something is due to
him from his creatures. And when we regard him with such affections, and yield
him such services, as his nature, character, offices, and works deserve, then we
give unto him the glory which is due to his name.
1. Let us inquire what is due to Jehovah on account of his
2. What is due to Jehovah on account of the character he
3. What is due to God on account of the relations and offices
which he sustains--that of a creator, preserver.
4. What is due to Jehovah on account of the works which he has
performed, in nature, providence and redemption. E. Payson.
Verse 8. The object of worship. The nature of worship. The
accompaniment of worship (an offering). The place of worship. C. D..
Verse 9. (first clause). An examination of true and false
1. False worship, in the obscurity of ignorance, in the dulness
of formalism, in the offensiveness of indulged sin, in the hideousness of
2. True worship, in the beauty of holiness. C. D.
Verse 9. Holy fear an essential ingredient in true religion.
Verses 10-13. The reign of righteousness.
1. The announcement of a righteous king and judge.
2. The joyful reception prepared for him.
3. His glorious coming. C. D.
Verses 11-12. The sympathy of nature with the work of grace;
especially dwelling upon its fuller display in the millennial period.