Psalm 96:5
For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
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(5) Idols.—Literally, nothings; Heb., elîlîm, with a play on the word el, God. This plainly shows that by Gods, in Psalm 96:4, the heathen deities, and not angels, are meant. (See Note, Psalm 95:3.) The LXX. sometimes renders the Hebrew word “idols,” sometimes “vanities,” but here “demons.” Symmachus “nonexistences.”

But the Lord made the heavens.Nothings could not do that, but only Jehovah.

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 all the gods of the nations are idols - All the gods worshipped by the people of other lands are mere "idols." None of them can claim to have a real existence as gods. The word here rendered "idols" is translated by the Septuagint, δαιμόνια daimonia, "demons." So the Latin Vulgate "daemonia." The Hebrew word - אליל 'ĕlı̂yl - means properly "of nothing, nought, empty, vain." See Job 13:4. The meaning here is, that they were mere nothings; they had no real existence; they were the creations of the imagination; they could not in any sense be regarded as what it was pretended they were; they had no claim to reverence and worship as gods. Of most of them it was a fact that they had no existence at all, but were mere creatures of fancy. Of those that did really exist, as the sun, moon, stars, animals, or the spirits of departed people, though it was true that they had an actual existence, yet it was also true that they had no existence "as gods," or as entitled to worship; and hence, it was also true that the worship offered to them was as vain as that which was offered to mere beings of the imagination. This verse is extracted literally from 1 Chronicles 16:26. The Hebrew is the same.

But the Lord made the heavens - Yahweh created the heavenly hosts, and therefore he is the true God, and is entitled to worship. The power of "creation" - of causing anything to exist where there was nothing before - must pertain to God alone, and is the highest act of Divinity. No pretended pagan god has that power; no man has that power. The true God has reserved the exercise of that power to himself, and has never, in any instance, imparted it to a created being.

4, 5. For He is not a local God, but of universal agency, while idols are nothing. Idols; or, nothings, as they are called, 1 Corinthians 8:4 10:19; or, vain things, as the word signifies, and is translated by others. 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.

For all the gods of the nations are idols,.... Or are "nothings" (o), nonentities; such as have not, and never had, any being, at least many of them, but in the fancies of men; and all of them such as have no divinity in them;

an idol is nothing in the world, 1 Corinthians 8:4,

but the Lord made the heavens; and all the hosts of them, the sun, moon, and stars; these are the curious workmanship of his fingers, and which declare his glory, and show him to be truly and properly God, who is to be feared and worshipped; see Hebrews 1:10.

(o) "nihila", Tigurine version, Cocceius, Michaelis.

For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD {c} made the heavens.

(c) Then the idols or whatever did not make the heavens, are not God.

5. For all the gods of the peoples are things of nought [or, idols]; powerless, nay, non-existent. Cp. the argument of Isaiah 40:18 ff; Isaiah 44:9 ff.

but the Lord &c.] The appeal to the works of creation as a proof of Jehovah’s power occurs frequently in Isaiah 40-66. See Isaiah 40:22; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:24.

Verse 5. - For all the gods of the nations are idols; rather, vanities, or nothings. In the original there is a play upon the words - the elohim of the nations are mere elilim. Elilim is a favourite designation of the heathen gods in Isaiah. Compare the statement of St. Paul, "We know that an idol is nothing in the world" (1 Corinthians 8:4). But the Lord made the heavens. That which is nothing can do nothing, can make nothing. How far superior is Jehovah, who "made the heavens" (comp. Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 44:24)! Psalm 96:5Confirmation of the call from the glory of Jahve that is now become manifest. The clause Psalm 96:4, as also Psalm 145:3, is taken out of Psalm 48:2. כל־אלהים is the plural of כּל־אלוהּ, every god, 2 Chronicles 32:15; the article may stand here or be omitted (Psalm 95:3, cf. Psalm 113:4). All the elohim, i.e., gods, of the peoples are אלילים (from the negative אל), nothings and good-for-nothings, unreal and useless. The lxx renders δαιμόνια, as though the expression were שׁדים (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:20), more correctly εἴδωλα in Revelation 9:20. What Psalm 96:5 says is wrought out in Isaiah 40, Isaiah 44, and elsewhere; אלילים is a name of idols that occurs nowhere more frequently than in Isaiah. The sanctuary (Psalm 96:6) is here the earthly sanctuary. From Jerusalem, over which the light arises first of all (Isaiah 60), Jahve's superterrestrial doxa now reveals itself in the world. הוד־והדר is the usual pair of words for royal glory. The chronicler reads Psalm 96:6 עז וחדוה בּמקמו, might and joy are in His place (הדוה( ecalp siH ni era yoj d a late word, like אחוה, brotherhood, brotherly affection, from an old root, Exodus 18:9). With the place of God one might associate the thought of the celestial place of God transcending space; the chronicler may, however, have altered במקדשׁו into במקמו because when the Ark was brought in, the Temple (בית המקדשׁ) was not yet built.
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