Psalm 96:4
For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Psalm 96:4-6. For the Lord — Hebrew, Jehovah, is great — Infinite in his nature and attributes; and greatly to be praised — All our most exalted praises fall infinitely short of his greatness. He is to be feared above all gods — The gods of the heathen, as the next words expound it. For all the gods of the nations are idols — Or, nothing, as they are called 1 Corinthians 8:4; 1 Corinthians 10:19; and, as אלילים, elilim, here rendered idols, signifies; or, vain things, as others translate the word. The sense is, Though they have usurped the name and place of the Divine Majesty, yet they have nothing of his nature or power in them. Honour and majesty are before him — That is, in his presence, like beams shot from his face, who is the Sun of righteousness. There is an inconceivable glory and majesty in his countenance, and in the place of his presence. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary — Or, in his holy place; that is, where he records his name, and vouchsafes his presence, there are the manifestations of his power and grace, or goodness, and of all his perfections.96:1-9 When Christ finished his work on earth, and was received into his glory in heaven, the church began to sing a new song unto him, and to bless his name. His apostles and evangelists showed forth his salvation among the heathen, his wonders among all people. All the earth is here summoned to worship the Lord. We must worship him in the beauty of holiness, as God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself. Glorious things are said of him, both as motives to praise and matter of praise.For the Lord is great - Yahweh is great. See the notes at Psalm 77:13. This verse is taken literally from 1 Chronicles 16:25.

And greatly to be praised - Worthy of exalted praise and adoration.

He is to be feared above all gods - He is to be reverenced and adored above all that are called gods. Higher honor is to be given him; more lofty praise is to be ascribed to him. He is Ruler over all the earth, and has a claim to universal praise. Even if it were admitted that they were real gods, yet it would still be true that they were local and inferior divinities; that they ruled only over the particular countries where they were worshipped and acknowledged as gods, and that they had no claim to "universal" adoration as Yahweh has.

4, 5. For He is not a local God, but of universal agency, while idols are nothing. The gods of the nations, as the next verse expounds it. For the Lord is great,.... In the perfections of his nature; in the works of his hands, of creation, providence, and redemption; and in the several offices he bears and executes:

and greatly to be praised; because of his greatness and glory; See Gill on Psalm 48:1,

he is to be feared above all gods; the angels by whom he is worshipped; civil magistrates, among whom he presides, and judges; and all the fictitious deities of the Gentiles, who are not to be named with him, and to whom no fear, reverence, and worship, are due.

For the LORD is {b} great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.

(b) Seeing he will reveal himself to all nations contrary to their own expectation, they should all worship him contrary to their own imaginations, and only as he has appointed.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. The first line is borrowed from Psalm 48:1 a (cp. Psalm 145:3): the second combines Psalm 47:2 and Psalm 95:3. Cp. Deuteronomy 7:21; Deuteronomy 10:17.

4–6. Jehovah’s worthiness to be praised.Verse 4. - For the Lord is great (comp. Psalm 95:3a), and greatly to be praised. Whatever is "great" excites our admiration, and naturally calls forth our praise. God's greatness is such that he needs to be "greatly praised." He is to be feared above all gods (comp. Psalm 95:3b, and the comment ad loc.). The second decastich begins in the midst of the Masoretic Psalm 95:7. Up to this point the church stirs itself up to a worshipping appearing before its God; now the voice of God (Hebrews 4:7), earnestly admonishing, meets it, resounding from out of the sanctuary. Since שׁמע בּ signifies not merely to hear, but to hear obediently, Psalm 95:7 cannot be a conditioning protasis to what follows. Hengstenberg wishes to supply the apodosis: "then will He bless you, His people;" but אם in other instances too (Psalm 81:9; Psalm 139:19; Proverbs 24:11), like לוּ, has an optative signification, which it certainly has gained by a suppression of a promissory apodosis, but yet without the genius of the language having any such in mind in every instance. The word היּום placed first gives prominence to the present, in which this call to obedience goes forth, as a decisive turning-point. The divine voice warningly calls to mind the self-hardening of Israel, which came to light at Merמbah, on the day of Massah. What is referred to, as also in Psalm 81:8, is the tempting of God in the second year of the Exodus on account of the failing of water in the neighbourhood of Horeb, at the place which is for this reason called Massah u-Merı̂bah (Exodus 17:1-7); from which is to be distinguished the tempting of God in the fortieth year of the Exodus at Merı̂bah, viz., at the waters of contention near Kadesh (written fully Mê-Merı̂bah Kadesh, or more briefly Mê-Merı̂bah), Numbers 20:2-13 (cf. on Psalm 78:20). Strictly כמריבה signifies nothing but instar Meribae, as in Psalm 83:10 instar Midianitarum; but according to the sense, כּ is equivalent to כּעל. Psalm 106:32, just as כּיום is equivalent to כּביום. On אשׁר, quum, cf. Deuteronomy 11:6. The meaning of גּם־ראוּ פעלי is not they also (גם as in Psalm 52:7) saw His work; for the reference to the giving of water out of the rock would give a thought that is devoid of purpose here, and the assertion is too indefinite for it to be understood of the judgment upon those who tempted God (Hupfeld and Hitzig). It is therefore rather to be rendered: notwithstanding (ho'moos, Ew. 354, a) they had ( equals although they had, cf. גם in Isaiah 49:15) seen His work (His wondrous guiding and governing), and might therefore be sure that He would not suffer them to be destroyed. The verb קוּט coincides with κοτέω, κότος. בּדּור .ען, for which the lxx has τῇ γενεᾷ ἐκείνη, is anarthrous in order that the notion may be conceived of more qualitatively than relatively: with a (whole) generation. With ואמר Jahve calls to mind the repeated declarations of His vexation concerning their heart, which was always inclined towards error which leads to destruction - declarations, however, which bore no fruit. Just this ineffectiveness of His indignation had as its result that (אשׁר, not ὅτι but ὥστε, as in Genesis 13:16; Deuteronomy 28:27, Deuteronomy 28:51; 2 Kings 9:37, and frequently) He sware, etc. (אם equals verily not, Gesen. 155, 2, f, with the emphatic future form in n which follows). It is the oath in Numbers 14:27. that is meant. The older generation died in the desert, and therefore lost the entering into the rest of God, by reason of their disobedience. If now, many centuries after Moses, they are invited in the Davidic Psalter to submissive adoration of Jahve, with the significant call: "To-day if ye will hearken to His voice!" and with a reference to the warning example of the fathers, the obedience of faith, now as formerly, has therefore to look forward to the gracious reward of entering into God's rest, which the disobedient at that time lost; and the taking possession of Canaan was, therefore, not as yet the final מנוּחה (Deuteronomy 12:9). This is the connection of the wider train of thought which to the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews Heb 3:1, Hebrews 4:1, follows from this text of the Psalm.
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