Psalm 96 calls all people to worship the Lord as king. The psalm can be outlined into four sections. (1) The call to worship (1-3), (2) The reason for worship (4-6), (3) The content of worship (7-10), and (4) The coming of the Judge.
The Call to Worship (1-3)
All the earth is instructed to sing a new song. We learned in our Revelation study that a new song represents a victory song and a song of deliverance (cf. Revelation 5:9; 14:3). All the inhabitants of the earth are to praise God for the victory he has brought. Sing to the Lord and bless his name. Tell of his salvation everyday to every person. We are told to declare the glory of the Lord to the lost world. The acts of the Lord are acts of deliverance to assure his people. The forgiveness of sins that we have been so graciously granted should be all that we need to worship and praise the name of the Lord. Even if we had nothing else to praise God for (but the psalmist will give us more reasons later in this psalm), the salvation extended to the world is magnificent and worthy of our perpetual praise. The psalm teaches that worship should not be a private thing between ourselves and God. Worship includes proclamation.
The Reason for Worship (4-6)
Verses 4-6 explain the reasoning for singing praises and blessing the name of the Lord. The first reason is because the Lord is great. He is great and therefore must be greatly praised and greatly feared. We must never lose the greatness of God in our minds and hearts. The creation helps us remain in awe of God’s greatness. I love the vacations we can take and see the greatness of God seen in creation in our country alone. We are surrounded by the evidences of his royal presence. God is glorious in because he is our King and Creator.
The second reason for worship is because everyone else is worthless idols. Notice verse 5, “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols.” Everything else that we worship has no power or might. We worship the money god but it does not protect us from disaster and does not offer any hope. God is the true God. He is the Creator. He made all that we see.
The third reason for worship is found in verse 6. He is full of splendor, majesty, strength, and beauty. God is glorious and worthy of our worship. Greatness is not found in idols. Only God is full of splendor and majesty. Everything else is simply worthless.
The Content of Worship (7-9)
Verses 7-9 tell us what we need to give to the Lord in our worship. We need to ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Recognize his glory. Recognize his strength and praise him for those attributes. Further, give glory to his name. Bring an offering and make your sacrifice to God. Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. Come before him trembling as you honor his greatness. The psalmist gives us a beautiful picture of the heart of worship. Give God glory and honor as you recognize his glory and greatness. Our singing to the Lord is an excellent expression of thankfulness and appreciation for our Lord.
The Coming of the Judge (10-13)
Verse 10 exhorts us to teach the world about the glory and rule of God. Tell the world that the Lord reigns. God has created and established this world. He will judge the earth as a righteous judge. The Lord reigns and the Lord is the judge.
Finally, the psalmist concludes with imagery of the coming of the Lord to judge. All the creation is again called to rejoice and worship the Lord. Everyone is to exalt the Lord before the Lord because he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the earth in righteousness and in his faithfulness. Notice that the psalmist pictures the coming of the Judge as something to anticipate. The psalmist looks forward to the coming of the Lord. The earth is to rejoice because the Lord is coming in judgment. It is not that the earth is to fear. The earth is to be excited about the coming of the Lord. Praise God that he will judge in the earth in righteousness when everything will be put back to right and justice will prevail.