The Lord Reigns
97 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame,
who make their boast in worthless idols;
worship him, all you gods!
Zion hears and is glad,
and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O LORD.
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
O you who love the LORD, hate evil!
He preserves the lives of his saints;
he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
Psalm 97 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The holiness of God is great and vast. When God appeared on Mount Sinai it was always marked by a thick cloud on the mountain and smoke that billowed like a stoked furnace. It was where God dwelt and was unapproachable. His Being hidden from sight. The throne where He rules is nothing less than righteousness and justice. The psalmist calls us to rejoice in such a picture. Absolute power is in His hands. Everything melts before Him.
As Boice writes, “Psalms 96,97 and 98 each hail God’s coming as the world’s King. But Psalms 96 and 98 soar with delight at what is in store for the world when God returns, while in Psalm 97 the frightening, awesome side of God’s kingly rule is emphasized.”
At some point all people will see His glory when the trumpet is blown proclaiming Jesus’ return when all tribes and nations will see Him coming with the holy angels.
As this picture resonates of God’s righteousness and justice, these things are to be noted within God’s people.
As David Guzik notes, it may be that this command is one of the most often broken among God’s people. We find it to easy to be too loving or rather express a twisted love that pretends to both love our God and love or accept things that He hates.
Unfortunately, this rings true. There are many who choose to reject or ignore God’s ways and choose to follow and accept things for their own benefit and desire. As we know, and as this psalm portrays the holiness of God one day being seen by all, we will stand before our God in His glory and power. Laid bare will be our goals and accomplishments for what they really were. It will be then in that moment a revelation will take place as to if we foolishly pursued these things or if we chose to follow after our Holy God.
Psalm 97 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
When we look back at Scripture, we see just how holy God really is. Anyone who came into the fullness of God (or Jesus in His heavenly form) were overwhelmed beyond comprehension.
Wrestling With God
In Genesis 32, Jacob wrestled with a human form of God (many believe this was Jesus) and was overcome.
Genesis 32:25 HCSB When the man saw that He could not defeat him, He struck Jacob’s hip socket as they wrestled and dislocated his hip.
In Exodus 33, Moses pleaded with God to see His face and God allowed for Him to only see the backside of Him, as Moses would have died had He seen God’s face.
Exodus 33:20-23 HCSB But He answered, “You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live.” 21 The LORD said, “Here is a place near Me. You are to stand on the rock, 22 and when My glory passes by, I will put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away, and you will see My back, but My face will not be seen.”
Witnessing the Risen Christ
In Acts 9, Paul witnessed the glory of Christ directly before Him and fell down to the ground with blindness.
Acts 9:3-6 HCSB As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. 4 Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 “Who are You, Lord?” he said. “I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting,” He replied. 6 “But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
While on the island of Patmos, John was caught up in the Spirit when Jesus appeared before him.
Revelation 1:10-11 HCSB I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” Revelation 1:17-18 HCSB When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. He laid His right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, 18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.
The glory and holiness of God/Jesus is certainly nothing to underestimate. Often, we do.
“There is a gap between our love for the gospel and our love for godliness… It’s not pietism, legalism, or fundamentalism to take holiness seriously.”Kevin DeYoung
We tend to celebrate what Christ saved us from much more often than celebrating what He’s called us to. The sacrifice of Jesus was for both grace and truth. It is grace that saves us from sin, but truth that calls us forward into holiness.
You who love the LORD, hate evil! He protects the lives of His godly ones; He rescues them from the power of the wicked. 11 Light dawns for the righteous, gladness for the upright in heart.Psalms 97:10-11 HCSB
You who love the Lord, hate evil! Yes, He rescues us from the power of the wicked, but He calls us forward into the light where the righteous rejoice in the freedom of holiness. Where have you compromised the holiness of God? Where are you leaning into His grace while neglecting His truth?