Psalm for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Psalm 96: 1-3, 7-10

The responsorial psalm for this week comes from Psalm 96, a hymn inviting all of humanity to praise the glories of Israel’s God, who is the sole God of all creation.

This psalm has numerous verbal and thematic contacts with Isaiah 40-55, as does Psalm 98. Another version of the psalm is found in 1 Chronicles 16:23-33.

Sing to the LORD a new song;

Three times the psalmist calls for a song of praise, each time highlighting a different aspect of the song.

First, the song is to be a new one. This is only appropriate since their salvation has transformed them into a new people. No longer will laments be acceptable — the only kind of song worthy of the event of salvation that has unfolded before their very eyes is a hymn of praise.

sing to the LORD, all you lands.

Second, the song is to be directed to all the earth or all the lands. There is a note of universality here: not just Israel, but all the earth is called upon to sing this hymn of praise.

While the primary meaning of the word ’eres designates the earth in a cosmological sense, a second and equally significant sense denotes a particular territory. One can conclude that in this psalm both the natural world and the human society within it are called to praise God.

Sing to the LORD; bless his name.

Finally, along with the call to sing is a summons to bless the name of the LORD. Since a name was thought to contain part of the very essence of the person, a call to bless God’s name is really a summons to give praise to some aspect of God’s character.

Announce his salvation, day after day. Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.

The aspect of God’s character to be praised is the salvation he has brought about for the sake of Israel. All the earth is called to announce the good news of this salvation and to announce it unceasingly, day after day.

The glory (kābôd) of God refers to the visible manifestation of God’s splendor. While it is usually revealed in the Temple, here it is also associated with the wondrous deeds God has accomplished.

Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!

Once the nations have seen the wonders God has performed on behalf of Israel, they too are summoned to praise the LORD, who has been revealed in such a wondrous manner.

Worship the LORD, in holy attire; tremble before him, all the earth;

It is not clear whether it is the LORD who is in holy attire or those who are officiating at the temple worship. In either case, the scene described is magnificent, befitting so great a God.

say among the nations: The LORD is king,

The essence of their homage is the cultic cry: The LORD is king! This cry was frequently used during celebrations of the kingship of God. These either followed military victory or took place at the new year, when God’s primordial triumph over the forces of chaos was reenacted, after which the people at worship would proclaim the cry with joy.

he governs the peoples with equity.

As king, the LORD will govern (or judge, dîn) the people in the manner they deserve. Thus, the God of Israel exercises sovereign, universal, and equitable rule over the entire universe.

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