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Christmas Eve A Psalm

Psalm 96

Danny Quanstrom | Pastor, Hastings Church of the Nazarene

This Psalm is either an undisputed Davidic Psalm or is blatant plagiarism! Seriously. Without explicit authorship or references, Psalm 96 would certainly not be published today. It is taken directly from 1 Chronicles 16. Take a look at Psalm 96 (left) paired next to 1 Chronicles 16:23-34 (right). The differences between the psalms are in bold.

In order for us to employ this passage for today we have to peel back a few layers; we need to see how this Psalm functioned in 1 Chronicles, see how it function in Psalm 96, then how it fits into our Christmas Eve celebrations.

How this Psalm functions in 1 Chronicles.

To see how this Psalm originally functioned you need to go back multiple chapters in 1 Chronicles; to understand the narrative of David’s kingly ascent. Chronicles is often a difficult read as it is filled with genealogies and lists of names that are tediously foreign. But the general storyline goes something like this:

King Saul is overtaken by the Philistines. In order to avoid torture by the “uncircumcised” Saul, his sword-bearers, and 3 sons all kill themselves. Saul is declared unfaithful. (chapter 10)

David is anointed as King over Israel at Hebron, NOT Jerusalem. Jerusalem was under Jebusite control. David and his warriors march on Jerusalem taking the city renaming it “The City of David.” (Chapter 11)

All Israelite peoples – even those in wilderness and those once loyal to Saul – pledge allegiance to David as King. (Chapter 12)

David calls the the ark of the covenant to be brought back into the people but Uzzah is struck dead when he touches the ark. David doesn’t bring the ark back into the City of David out of fear. (Chapter 13)

David is then established as King over Jerusalem. The Philistines don’t like this… They plot to besiege the city. The Philistine raid is thwarted and David strikes them down. (Chapter 14)

Once established as king and with foreign armies defeated, David calls for the ark to be brought into Jerusalem. Only Levites were to carry the ark. (Chapter 15)