English Basic Explanation - Chapter 96
Psalm 96 begins by calling upon the entire earth to sing a "Shir Hadash" – a "new song" – to God. Rashi explains that this term always refers to the future, the Messianic era. In the current world, we could – and must – give praise to God for His power and the kindness He performs, but in the next world our praise will be "new," something entirely and fundamentally different from any form of exaltation we can express to God. Once the world is redeemed and perfected, our praise of God is complete and wholehearted, and not compromised by the hardships and fears that, to one extent or another, diminish from the intensity of our praise of God in this world. Thus, this chapter is written in anticipation of the Messiah's arrival, when we and all nations will come forth to praise the Almighty with joy and fervor.
Indeed, a number of verses in this chapter clearly indicate that the Psalmist here foresees the time when the Bet Ha'mikdash will stand and all nations will be invited to make a pilgrimage to the holy site. Verse 5 mentions the glory of the Temple, and in verse 8 the Psalmist bids the nations of the world to bring offerings to the courtyards of the Mikdash. In the Messianic era, all peoples on earth will recognize "that all gods of the nations are idols – whereas God created the heavens!" (verse 5). Members of all nations will thus frequent the Temple to express their submission to God's authority and firm rejection of pagan beliefs.
Towards the end of this chapter (verses 11-12), we read that not only will the gentile nations come forward to praise God, but even the natural forces – the skies, the earth, the sea and the fields – will join us in the fervent exaltation of the Almighty. Whereas nowadays God's presence is not easily recognized, at the time of the Mashiah the earth will itself sing the praises of God; the very nature of the world will be such that God's greatness and glory will be unmistakably manifest and acknowledged by all.