Verse 5. For all the gods of the nations are idols. Mere images of wood and stone, vanities, nothings.
But the Lord made the heavens. The reality of his Godhead is proved by his works, and foremost among these the psalmist mentions that matchless piece of architecture which casts its arch over every man's head, whose lamps are the light of all mankind, whose rains and dew fall upon the fields of every people, and whence the Lord in voice of thunder is heard speaking to every creature. The idol gods have no existence, but our God is the author of all existences; they are mere earthly vanities, while he is not only heavenly, but made the heavens. This is mentioned as an argument for Jehovah's universal praise. Who can be worshipped but he? Since none can rival him, let him be adored alone.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. For all the gods of the nations are idols. Nothings, nonentities, a favourite description of idols in Isaiah's later prophecies. See eg Isaiah 41:24 , and compare Leviticus 19:4 8:4-6 1 Corinthians 26:1 10:19. A less probable etymology of the Hebrew word makes it a diminutive of (la) El, analogous to godlings as an expression of contempt. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 5. The gods of the nations are idols. Their Elohim are elilim. See 1Ch 16:26. The word elilim occurs in two places in the Psalms, here and Psalms 97:7 . It is used most frequently by Isaiah, and properly signifies nothings, as St. Paul says, "an idol is nothing." ( 1 Corinthians 8:4 .) Chr. Wordsworth.
Verse 5. The Lord made the heavens. Psalms 96:5 is a notandum. What a tribute to astronomy is it that the Lord is so often done homage to as having made the heavens! Let the theology of nature be blended with the theology of conscience -- a full recognition of the strength and the glory which shine palpably forth in the wonders of creation, with the spiritual offerings of holy worship and holy service. Thomas Chalmers.