Psalm 96 is a beautiful hymn of praise. It is both a call to give praise to God and a call to proclaim His glory, to tell people of all that He is and all that He has done. The psalmist begins by exhorting us all to sing to the Lord, singing a new song that will praise His name and proclaim His salvation (Psalm 96:1-2). He goes on to tell us that we should declare God’s glory and tell of His marvelous deeds, not just to some, but to ALL people (Psalm 96:3). The things that we know and believe to be true about God are things we should not keep to ourselves. We need to let the world know about them. And if we need reasons to do so, verses 4 to 6 supply them:
For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him;
strength and glory are in His sanctuary.
We need to praise the Lord and proclaim His glory to all people because He is great and worthy of praise more than any other gods. We need to praise Him and proclaim His glory because He is full of majesty and splendor, and His throne is established in strength and glory. As I reflect on these verses, one, in particular, stands out to me – verse 5. That verse tells us that all the gods of the nations are idols. In the NASB, it refers to all the gods of the peoples. At the time that this psalm was written, the psalmist was referring to pagan gods, the gods of the nations outside of Israel. But I think there is a very appropriate application to the world today.
What are the gods of the nations, the gods of the peoples today? What idols do people worship and put their faith and trust in? One modern idol is money. Another is celebrity: actors, musicians, politicians, and the like. But the one that really stands out to me is technology. Throughout the world, people put much faith and trust in things such as smartphones, computers, cars, modern appliances. People stand in long lines waiting for the release of things like the latest iPhone. In a very real sense, technology has become a god in the modern world.
But, here’s the thing. And all of these things are temporary. They either are replaced by the latest and greatest new technology or they simply cease to function in the way they were intended. The Hebrew word translated as idols in this psalm can also mean worthless, insignificant, things that are nothing. In fact, in the New English Translation (NET), verse 5 says that the gods of the nations are “worthless.” The thing that all of these modern idols of technology have in common is that they are all made by man. But, as verse 5 goes on to say, God made the heavens. The heavens were there long before modern technology and will be there long after it is gone. And one thing that we know to be true about the heavens is that they declare God’s glory and reveal His greatness (Psalm 19:1-2).
Psalm 96 is a great reminder to take our eyes and our focus off of the things of the world, the modern idols like technology, and look to the skies. When we focus on the awesomeness and the wonder of God’s creation, praise will follow.
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NET) are from The NET Bible® Copyright © 2005 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. www.bible.org All rights reserved.