Psalm 96: Singing in the Rain

 Tuesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

August 25, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96 which calls the people to praise God in music and dance because they have been chosen and confirmed as God’s People. 

The psalm may have been composed by David to mark the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. At that time, Israel had a sense of great victory, restoration, and security as David assumed kingship at God’s command.

But today’s particular verses have an eschatological tone. They turn the attention of the praise singer to the overarching fact that God is infinitely larger than any present small victory. They imply that the only true victory and restoration are found in complete abandonment to God’s power in our lives no matter our situation.

Say among the nations: The Lord is king.
God has made the world firm, not to be moved;
God governs the peoples with equity.


That Divine Power is easy enough to sing about when things go well for us, as they were for Israel at that time. But can we still praise God’s dominion and power when things seem bleak, when we don’t feel in control of our reality?

Psalm 96 invites us to that deep abandonment of self into God’s unfailing Mercy, no matter our life’s weather.

Declare among the nations: The LORD is king.
The world will surely stand fast, never to be shaken.
God rules the peoples with fairness.

When we struggle to find that kind of holy equanimity, Psalm 96 suggests we look to nature, and to its persistent return to Divine Balance, even after upheaval. So too will any unbalance in us be restored within the infinite arc of God’s abiding love. And that is the real reason to always sing God’s praise!

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.

Before the Lord Who comes;
Who comes to rule the earth.
God shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with constancy.

Poetry: To Him Who Is Feared by Eleazar Ben Kalir
Translated by Lady Katie Magnus
from the Liturgy for Rosh Hashana

To Him who is feared a Crown will I bring.
Thrice Holy each day acclaim Him my King;
At altars, ye mighty, proclaim loud His praise,
And multitudes too may whisper His lays.
Ye angels, ye men, whose good deeds He records—
Sing, He is One, His is good, our yoke is the Lord’s!
Praise Him trembling to-day, His mercy is wide—
Ye who fear for His wrath—it doth not abide!
Ye seraphim, high above storm clouds may sing;
Men and angels make music, th’ All-seeing is king. 
As ye open your lips, at His Name they shall cease—
Transgression and sin—in their place shall be peace;
And thrice shall the Shophar re-echo your song
On mountain and altar to whom both belong. 

Music: O Sing Unto the Lord – Handel

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