Psalm 96 Commentary for the Feast of the Transfiguration by Dr NoelDonnelly.

When we sing “The Lord is King” in psalm 96, we are singing what’s known as an enthronement song.  This is so appropriate for the feast of the Transfiguration when, on the high mountain, Jesus, the Son of Man is revealed to Peter, James and John as Beloved Son of the Father. 

When we sing “cloud and darkness are his raiment” and “the mountains melt like wax before the Lord” we are echoing the solemn revelation of God in Deuteronomy 4.11 where the people stood before the Lord at the foot of Mount Horeb which was ablaze with fire and surrounded with dark cloud and thick mist to hear the Ten Commandments. This same God is still wrapped in awesome mystery and not to be trivialized!  

Our psalm with its fire and mystery follows the reading from the Book of Daniel, where the mysterious son of man is enthroned in a blaze of flames with wheels of burning fires. It leads towards the Gospel where Jesus, the incarnate Son of Man, in a very bright cloud is declared “Beloved!” by his heavenly Father.

The psalm’s avowal that the Lord is King above all the earth arises from a time when every land was thought to have its own god. But our psalmist proclaims, “You are most high, exalted above all the spirits!”  

Perhaps today many lands are worshipping the gods of honour and power and money. Our psalm may help us to let Jesus touch us as he touched the disciples with the words, “Stand up and do not be afraid!” as we focus more on love, beauty and the hope offered to us all as beloved children of the Father.