Psalm 97 The LORD Reigns (1) The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! (2) Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. (3) Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. (4) His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. (5) The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. (6) The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory. (7) All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods! (8) Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O LORD. (9) For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods. (10) O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (11) Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart. (12) Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name! ESV
The LORD Reigns! (ESV) A Song of Praise to the Sovereign LORD! (NKJV) God the Supreme Ruler! (GNT) A Hymn About God’s Power! (ICB) The LORD’s Power and Dominion! (NASB)
The point is clear! The previous psalms are about the glory of God. How all will see God’s glory someday, and how all should seek to praise the Lord now, before He returns. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it! This psalm, Psalm 97, is similar but speaks more of the power of God. He will return, and when He does, woe to the man or woman on the wrong side of His grace.
There is no information about this psalm. The couple before and after are very similar. One is titled Of David, so some believe Psalm 97 to be written by David as well. Others want to argue about that.
Because God didn’t record a time period nor an author, we need to leave it at that.
While researching this psalm, I came across a translation of the Bible that I’ve never heard of. I am going to use some of it here because I appreciate its beautiful simplicity. Here’s a link to some information about the translation if you are interested. International Childrens Bible (ICB)
The Lord is king. Let the earth rejoice. Faraway lands should be glad. Thick, dark clouds surround him. His kingdom is built on what is right and fair. A fire goes before him and burns up his enemies all around. His lightning flashes in the sky. When the people see it, they tremble. The mountains melt like wax before the Lord. He is Lord of all the earth. The skies tell about his goodness. And all the people see his glory. Psalm 97:1-6 ICB
Today as I write, the world is in chaos, which is not a new thing. But still, war and disease are real active fears for us as they were during biblical times. Psalm 97 is a reassurance. God is King. He was King then; He is King now. Even though we face the unknown of scary things, the Lord reigns over all the earth. It is a reassurance that He watches over us, that He sees us.
Mountains melt like wax before the Lord. So what you and I are afraid of is nothing, a blink of an eye, nothing to an Almighty God who knows all, sees all, and can handle all.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:28-29 NIV
The Lord reigneth. This is the watchword of the psalm- Jehovah reigns. It is also the essence of the gospel proclamation, and the foundation of the gospel kingdom. Jesus has come, and all power is given unto him in heaven and on earth, therefore men are bidden to yield him their obedient faith.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
His Kingdom is built on what is right and fair. Praise the Lord for that.
Those who worship idols should be ashamed. They brag about their false gods. All the gods should worship the Lord. When Jerusalem hears this, she is glad. The towns of Judah rejoice. They are happy because of your judgements, Lord. You are the Lord Most High over all the earth. You are supreme over all gods. People who love the Lord should hate evil. The Lord watches over those who follow him. He frees them from the power of the wicked. Light shines on those who do what is right. Joy belongs to those who are honest. Rejoice in the Lord, you who do right. Praise his holy name. Psalm 97:7-12 ICB
God reigns now, and when He returns, He will tear down the idols and false gods. There will be no question who is Creator and who is the one true God. Sadly, there are those who will never believe, and who even work to tear down the children of God. But someday, upon Jesus return, all will be made right again.
Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:7-8 NKJV
Psalm 97 verse 10 is hard for many Christians, or maybe all Christians. We must love the Lord with all of our being, all of it! If we cling to evil, we cannot be truly loving God at the same time. Sin and evil do not go with our God, He is good and hates evil because it cannot exist in His presence. So if we truly love God, then all evil and sin must be purged from our lives. We cannot cling to some of it and still claim to love Him. We are only deceiving ourselves. God sees. God knows, which is beautiful and terrifying at the same time. We cannot hide from Him.
And those that rejoice in Christ Jesus, and in his exaltation, have fountains of joy prepared for them. Those that sow in tears, shall reap in joy.Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714
Let us close with the ICB simple translation of the reminder to follow the example of Jesus as we wait for His return:
So we have many people of faith around us. Their lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race that is before us and never give up. We should remove from our lives anything that would get in the way. And we should remove the sin that so easily catches us. Let us look only to Jesus. He is the one who began our faith, and he makes our faith perfect. Jesus suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing. He did this because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God's throne. Think about Jesus. He held on patiently while sinful men were doing evil things against him. Look at Jesus' example so that you will not get tired and stop trying. Hebrews 12:1-3 ICB
This is the Good News.
Father in heaven, give us strength to run with endurance, to guard our hearts and minds from evil, and to seek you with all our heart and mind and strength. Protect us and watch us. Help us to share the Good News of your great unfailing love to all around us today. Amen.