Like many, this psalm is tricky. At first glance it may come across as mundane. If we are not careful, we can simply ride the wave of the psalmist’s call for songs of praise to the Lord, drawing distinctions between gods that are mere idols and the Lord who “made the heavens.”
The psalmist begins, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” The familiarity of the opening line may lull those who pray it to sleep. But Psalm 96 called the people of God then and calls the people of God now to awaken. “Tell the nations, ‘The Lord rules!’” (ceb).
This countercultural claim calls for our unwavering allegiance to the one God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And so we sing not only to the God we adore but to the God who presently reigns over all. We proclaim God’s salvation day after day because God’s reign actually brings salvation.
The God of Israel is to be feared above all other gods, and God’s reign continues into the present moment. It was not only the ancient Israelites who needed to remind themselves that the Lord reigns; we need that reminder each day as well. As we face competing claims and discouraging realities, we often wonder who’s in charge. Christians need to be regrounded in who is Lord. Our God reigns. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who sent his Son to take on flesh and dwell among us and who continues to seek and save those outside the kingdom of God—that One reigns.
Lord, help me to recognize your reign in the world. May you especially reign in my life. Amen.