Psalm 96: The Rocks Got There First

Read Psalm 96.

I love Christmastime. The music, the decorations, the lights. It’s as if the whole world pauses to celebrate the birth of the Son of God.

Of course, I realize that much of the season has been overrun with Santa Claus, shopping, and sentimentality, but beneath all the fake snow and feel-good holiday specials on TV, there’s the true meaning of it all: God put on flesh to live with us.

It seems to me that what we have today with our ugly Christmas sweaters and eggnog lattés is a reminder that all people were made to praise God. Even those who do not want to acknowledge the birth of our Savior still want to partake in the celebration.

In Psalm 96, we read, “Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day” (vv. 1–2). In addressing “all the earth,” the psalmist is calling the trees and the rocks and the sky to worship God, which shouldn’t surprise us; Scripture tells us creation does just that (Psalm 19:1–4), or is poised to do so, at the least (Luke 19:40).

While seeing boulders sing hymns would be an amazing site, the natural world itself never turned to the dark side. It is cursed, to be sure, but “the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:19). It does this because it, too, wants to “be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (v. 22).

In this psalm, however, the psalmist looks beyond creation to invoke something much more magical: for those who have rejected God to open their arms and mouths in praise of the true King. “Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength” (Psalm 95:7). Next to that, a rock performing a solo is nothing.

It’s as if human beings have always been late to the party. The natural world understands God’s goodness, but in the stubbornness of our hearts, we avoid the subject.

One day, all the nations of the earth will worship Jesus. People from every tribe and tongue will join with the trees and the rocks and animals in the forest to praise the Lord. The skies will proclaim God’s glory, and people from the four corners of the earth will answer back in solidarity.

Maybe I’m the only one, but I can’t wait to see what Christmas looks like in its full brilliance on the new earth.


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