Brief Meditative Reflections on Psalm 96

As I meditated on this passage, my thoughts seemed to center around what I think is this psalm’s central thrust, its thesis if you will. That thesis is well summarized in v.8a: “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name.” Ascribe (not “give”)—the idea of attributing some quality to God that is already His. This attribution is the central concept of worship in this psalm. In other words, to put this thesis in my own words, we are to give God the worship that He is due. We are to worship God who is worthy of our worship; and the measure, scope, and intensity of our worship is to correspond to the worthiness of the God to whom that worship is given. And, of course, the psalm goes on to make unavoidably clear that the worship due God is immeasurable great. Therefore, our worship of God must not be limited; it cannot be too great.

The psalm goes on to make this point clear in a variety of ways, exploring the limitlessness of our worship in an assortment of spheres. Notice the universality and comprehensiveness of the worship: All of the nations are compelled; the psalmist involves every nook and cranny of creation. In sum, the infinitely worship-worthiness of our God demands immeasurably grand worship.

As I meditated on this psalm, I began to notice that the motivations for our worship of God could be categorized into two categories: (1) who God is and (2) what He’s done. The nature of who God is demands our worship. He is not an idol, some manmade object of worship belonging to the category that is “creation.” No, he belongs to that category which is “creator.” He is the sovereign, the ruler, and the judge. He is righteous, faithful, and majestic. But more so, His works provide further motivation for worship. He has created; and He has saved. Our worship not something of our invention or initiative; but it is always in response to His gracious intervention.

So, in conclusion, as I meditated on this psalm I was challenged by the notion that my worship of God ought to correspond to the greatness and worthiness of God. That’s why after saying “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name” (v.8a), the psalmist follows up by calling the worshiper to respond in a manner appropriate to his particular covenant (v.8b). But as my worship fails to execute this thesis, this psalm provides a remedy: dwell on the greatness of God and His saving works; and let that be the motivation for worship due God. In sum, worship is based on great thoughts of God; and great thoughts of God fuel the worship of God.