Psalm 96: A New Song

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 18, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, one of the “royal psalms” praising God as King.

Bow down to the LORD, splendid in holiness.
Tremble before God, all the earth;
declare among the nations: The LORD is King.
The world will surely stand fast, 
never to be shaken.
The Lord rules the peoples with fairness.
The Lord rules the peoples with fairness.

Psalm 96: 9-10

Our psalm today forms a link between two readings about two different kinds of human kings.

In our first reading, we hear about King Cyrus, an “anointed” one:

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
subduing nations before him …

Isaiah 45;1

In fact, Cyrus the Great respected the customs and religions of the lands he conquered. This became a very successful model for centralized administration and establishing a government working to the advantage and profit of its subjects. Israel thrived under Cyrus and found no barriers to their own religious practices


In our Gospel, however, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus by testing him about their current political leadership, which is not so kindly inclined to the people:

Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?

Matthew 22:17

Jesus’s answer pretty much tells to Pharisees to obey the legitimate law. But that answer is secondary to his real challenge to them:

Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?


Our psalm is the praise song of a people who do not “test” God; who receive both the blessings and trials of life with faith and hope, and seek the path to God within those circumstances.

A “Cyrus” builds up that holy courage in the people. A “Caesar” only builds up himself.


In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul shows himself to be such an “anointed” leader, praying for and encouraging the Church in the journey of faith:

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father …


Today, there’s a lot of politics swirling in the wind – a lot of discerning about leadership and our own brand of “kings”. The current sufferings of our time cause our hearts to long for “a new song”.

The readings today remind me that the only way our spirits can …

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell God’s glory among the nations;
among all peoples, God’s wondrous deeds

… is by living Paul’s formula – “to live our lives as a work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.


:Sing a New Song – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

One thought on “Psalm 96: A New Song

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