O sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.
Verse 1. - O sing unto the Lord a new song (comp. Psalm 33:3; Psalm 98:1; Psalm 144:9; Psalm 149:1; Isaiah 42:10). This clause does not occur in 1 Chronicles 16. It seems to belong to the second recension of the psalm, when it was recast to suit some "new" occasion. Sing unto the Lord, all the earth. So in Isaiah 42:10, "Sing unto the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth." The psalmist at once makes known his "universalism" by calling on the whole earth to join in his song of praise (comp. Psalm 66:1, 4). This psalm has been well called "a missionary hymn for all ages."
Sing unto the LORD, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.
Verse 2. - Sing unto the Lord, bless his Name (cf. Psalm 100:4; Psalm 145:1, 10, 21, etc.). Show forth his salvation from day to day; or, publish his salvation (εὐαγγελίζεσθε, LXX.); i.e. "make it known" - "spread the good tidings."
Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.
Verse 3. - Declare his glory among the heathen. Publish God's praise, not only in Israel, but to the ends of the earth. Let all mankind hear the joyful news (comp. Psalm 2:8; Psalm 47:1, 8; Psalm 138:4). His wonders among all people; rather, among all the peoples; i.e. "all the nations of the earth" (see ver. 7).
For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.
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.).
For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.
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)!
Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Verse 6. - Honour and majesty are before him. Another paronomasia - hod ve-hadar. Dr. Kay translates, "grandeur and majesty;" Professor Cheyne, "glory and grandeur." Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. The original phrase used seems to have been, "Strength and gladness are in his place" (1 Chronicles 16:27) - terms suiting the simplicity of David's time. When the psalms came to be used in the temple service, loftier language was more fitting. The whole passage has probable reference to the glory of God as seated between the cherubim in the first temple.
Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Verse 7. - Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people; rather, O ye fatuities of the peoples. A renewed appeal to the heathen to join in the song of praise (comp. ver. 1). Give unto the Lord glory and strength. "Give" must be understood in the sense of "ascribe" (see Professor Cheyne's translation, and compare the Prayer book Version). Both this and the next verse are echoes of Psalm 29:1, 2.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Verse 8. - Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his Name; literally, the glory of his Name. Bring an. offering, and come into his courts. The parallel expression in 1 Chronicles 16:29 is, "Come before him." "Courts" would be inappropriate until the temple was built. (For the bringing of "an offering" (minchah) by the Gentiles, see Malachi 1:11.)
O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.
Verse 9. - O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (comp. 1 Chronicles 16:29; Psalm 29:2). This is generally explained as "holiday attire." or "in vestments suited to holy service," but may include, besides vestments, the other material accessories of Divine worship. Fear before him, all the earth; or, tremble before him (comp. Psalm 97:4). The fear of God is constantly inculcated by the psalmists, not only as "the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10), but as required of every man during his whole life (Psalm 19:9; Psalm 34:9; Psalm 40:3; Psalm 64:9; Psalm 86:11; Psalm 119:63, etc.).
Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.
Verse 10. - Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth (comp. Psalm 93:1; Psalm 97:1; Psalm 99:1). The world also shall be established that it shall not be moved. When God takes his throne, and manifestly reigns, the earth is at once "established," settled, placed on a firm footing (see the comment on Psalm 93:1, where exactly the same words occur). He shall judge the people righteously (comp. ver. 13). God, the Deliverer of old time (vers. 3, 4), God, the King of the whole earth (ver. 10a), is also God the Judge, who gives sentence on the "peoples" with equity.
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.
Verse 11. - Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad. "An appeal for the sympathy of nature" (Cheyne); comp. Isaiah 44:23; Jeremiah 51:48. If the final coming of Messiah's kingdom be the event alluded to in ver. 10, as is quite possible, the calling on heaven and earth to rejoice may indicate a real renovation of the material universe, such as to bring it into harmony with the newly established spiritual conditions of the period (comp. Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 21:1-4). Lot the sea roar, and the fulness thereof (comp. Psalm 98:7). The sea is to show its joy by raising its voice, and "roaring," or "thundering."
Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice
Verse 12. - Let the field be joyful; i.e. "the cultivated ground." And all that is therein. Its vines, its olives, its other fruits, and its harvests. Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord. Lebanon and Bashan shall rejoice equally with Carmel and Sharon. The whole earth shall "break forth into singing" (see Isaiah 44:23).
Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
Verse 13. - For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth (see above, ver. 10). This is given as the reason for the burst of joy. God's coming to judgment is the establishment of moral order in the place of moral disorder upon the earth, and the inauguration of a reign of love, peace, and happiness (comp. Isaiah 65:18-25). He shall judge the world with righteousness (see above, ver. 10, and comp. Psalm 9:8). The judgment which the psalmist has specially in view is, "not a retributive, but a gracious judging, by which controversies are adjusted and prevented, and the law of love introduced into the life of the people" (Hengstenberg). And the people with his truth; rather, the peoples; i.e. all the nations on the face of the earth.