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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 97

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Psalms 97:1-12.-Yahweh's coming with consuming judgments on the idolatrous world-powers. Such was Assyria, that threatened Judah. Yahweh's vengeance on His enemies (Psalms 97:1-3); the trembling produced by the sight of His glory on the earth, the skies, and all people (Psalms 97:4-6); how angels, and how Judah shall receive Him at His coming to confound the idols (Psalms 97:7-9); how the saints who love Him ought to hate evil and rejoice in His holiness, through which gladness is in store for them (Psalms 97:10-12). The psalm leans upon David's Psalms 18:1-50; Psalms 30:1-12; Psalms 33:1-22; Psalms 34:1-22; Psalms 37:1-40. As it is made up of quotations from the older Scriptures, so its grand subject, Messiah, shall combine, at His coming again as the Sun of righteousness, all the scattered rays of sacred prophecy, psalmody, and history.

The Lord reigneth - the same abrupt proclamation of Yahweh's anticipated assumption of the Kingdom appears throughout this series of psalms (Psalms 93:1; Psalms 96:10). The abruptness marks that it will take the earth by surprise. His saints break out into joyous thanksgiving for it (Isaiah 25:9: cf. Revelation 11:17).

Let the earth rejoice - (Psalms 96:11) let the multitude of isles be glad thereof - (cf Psalms 72:10; and the probably contemporary prophet, Isaiah 42:10; Isaiah 42:12; Isaiah 60:9.) The "isles" include all maritime regions. The earth and isles which are to rejoice at the Lord's coming are distinct from the God-opposed 'enemies' (Psalms 97:3), who are to be 'burnt up' by the "fire" that "goeth before him." They are the pagan nations of the whale earth who have taken no part with Antichrist, and who shall be converted by the word of the Lord going forth with power from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4). The blessing awaiting the people of Abraham is not merely for themselves, but that through them "all families of the earth may be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3).

Verse 2

Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

Clouds and darkness are round about him - drawn from David's Psalms 18:9; Psalms 18:11 which in its turn rests on Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:18; Deuteronomy 5:22. The clouds, darkness and lightnings, the awful accompaniments of Yahweh's manifestation at the giving of the Law on Sinai, are the type and presage of the same accompaniments on a grander and more awful scale at the final consummation of the Law and the Gospel at the Lord's second coming (Psalms 50:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). The dark clouds ominously intimate the lightnings of wrath which break forth against the idolaters (Psalms 97:3; Psalms 97:7).

Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. Translate, 'the firm basis (the prepared ground) of His throne;' from Psalms 89:14. Righteousness implies judgments on the transgressors of what is right, and salvation to the people of God who uphold it.

Verse 3

A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about. A fire goeth before him; and burneth up his enemies round about - (Psalms 18:8; Psalms 18:12.)

Verse 4

His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.

His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled - drawn from Psalms 77:18. The bare sight of thee caused the earth to tremble (Psalms 77:16).

Verse 5

The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord - (Micah 1:4.) There the words are applied to the judgment of God about to fall on the people of the covenant: here it is applied to the judgment on the God-opposed world. The fact that 'judgment has begun at the house of God' is a token that judgments of a far more destructive kind will overtake 'the (openly,) ungodly and sinners' (1 Peter 4:17). "The hills symbolize the heights of man's self-exalting pride of intellect, wealth, and power.

At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth - (Micah 4:13.)

Verse 6

The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.

The heavens declare his righteousness - from Asaph's psalm, Psalms 50:6; in both cases connected with Gods appearing as Judge. His righteousness is manifested in giving men severally their due: to His people salvation, to His and their enemies destruction. The heavens, or skies, declared His righteousness when "the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven" (Genesis 19:24).

And all the people see his glory - (Isaiah 40:5.) "His glory" refers to His manifestation in judgment on the one hand and in grace on the other.

Verses 7-12

Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.

-How the angels and how Judah shall receive Him when He shall come to confound the idols; and how the saints ought to hate evil and rejoice in His holy name as the source of light to them at the last.

Verse 7. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols. "Idols" - literally, things of nought, nullities; Hebrew, Elilim. Isaiah 42:17 is parallel; 44:9.

Worship him, all ye gods - not the false gods, as Hengstenberg takes it, quoting Exodus 12:12; Numbers 33:41; Isaiah 19:1, as if it were a spirited poetical personification by which the idols are told to acknowledge Yahweh to be above them. The inspired authority of Hebrews 1:6 ('When He bringeth again (namely, at Christ's second advent, margin) the First-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him'), confirming the translation of the Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Syriac versions, decides that the angels are meant here by 'Elohiym (H430). So the mighty rulers of the earth and judges are called 'Elohiym (H430) in Psalms 82:1; Psalms 82:6; Exodus 22:28. The connection is, if real principalities, such as are the angels, are required by God to "worship" Messiah as "the brightness of the Fathers glory" at His manifestation, much more must false gods give place to Him, the universal Lord. Compare 1 Timothy 3:16, "seen of angels." God designed that Messiah at His first advent should be gazed at with adoring love by heavenly intelligences (Ephesians 3:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 1 Peter 3:22); and especially at His second advent shall all powers recognize His Lordship (1 Corinthians 15:24-25; Philippians 2:9).

Verse 8. Zion heard, and was glad ... because of thy judgments - (Psalms 97:3.) While the worshippers of idols are confounded (Psalms 97:7), Zion rejoices at God's righteous judgments (Revelation 15:3-4). This verse rests upon Psalms 48:11. What there was an exhortation (so Isaiah 40:9), is here an asserted fact-`Zion rejoices.' 'Zion hears' it-namely, that the Lord judges, as He did of old in the case of Jehoshaphat, whose name (meaning Yahweh judgeth) was so gloriously verified by the fact.

And the daughters of Judah rejoiced - i:e., the remaining cities of Judah, as distinguished from Zion, the capital.

Verse 9. For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth - taken from Psalms 83:18.

Thou art exalted far above all gods - (cf. Psalms 47:9, end.) Hengstenberg remarks that the Psalmist's significant allusions to the three psalms, Psalms 47:1-9; Psalms 48:1-14; Psalms 83:1-18, confirm the reference of those psalms to the deliverance under Jehoshaphat.

Verse 10. Ye that love the Lord, hate evil - (Psalms 34:13-14 ; Romans 12:9 ; 2 Timothy 2:19 .) he preserveth the souls of his saints - an incentive that we should "hate evil." In spite of the seeming prosperity of the godless, it is the soul of the saint alone which is finally preserved.

Verse 11. Light is sown for the righteous - Psalms 112:4, "Unto the upright there ariseth [ zaarach (H2224), rises as the sun; which the Septuagint, Vulgate, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Arabic versions read here also, but needlessly, as poets love variety, light in the darkness]." Therefore the designedly similar sounding Hebrew here [ zaara` (H2232)] for "is sown" means, is scattered abroad in rich profusion, as the sun sows abroad his beams. Though "darkness" is round about the Lord to the unrighteous (Psalms 97:2), yet "Light is sown for the righteous."

Verse 12. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous - (Psalms 32:11) and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness - `and give thanks (literally, confess) to the memorial of His holiness' (Psalms 30:4, note).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 97". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-97.html. 1871-8.
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