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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 97

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations


Psalms 97:0


This Psalm seems to have both the same author and the same scope with the former. And although the psalmist might take occasion to pen it from those signal manifestations of God’s power and righteousness on his behalf, and against his enemies, yet he had a further aim in it, even at the coming of the Messias, which he here describes. And whereas there are two comings of Christ plainly distinguished in the New Testament, these are but confusedly mentioned in the Old Testament; and the prophets sometimes speak of his first coming in words and phrases which seem more properly to agree to the second, as Malachi 3:1,Malachi 3:2; Malachi 4:1,Malachi 4:2. But whatsoever the psalmist designed or understood, this is certain, that the Holy Ghost meant the last clause of Psalms 97:7 of Christ, as is affirmed, Hebrews 1:6, and therefore it is more than probable that all the rest of the Psalm is to be understood of him, and of his coming and kingdom.

A description of the majesty of God’s kingdom, Psalms 97:1-6. The church rejoiceth at his justice and judgment upon idolaters, Psalms 97:7-9, with an exhortation to godliness and spiritual rejoicing, Psalms 97:10-12.

Verse 1

The Lord reigneth; See Poole "Psalms 96:10".

The multitude of isles; the Gentile nations, as this word, being used Isaiah 42:4, is expounded Matthew 12:21, even those which are most remote from Judea, (then the only seat of God’s people and worship,) from which they were divided by the sea, or to which they usually went by sea; such places being commonly called

isles in Scripture, as Genesis 10:5; Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 66:19; which being mentioned, because there might be some doubt about them, it is sufficiently implied that those countries which were nearer to them should unquestionably partake of the same privilege.

Verse 2

Clouds and darkness are round about him; a dark cloud doth encompass him; wherein he seems to allude to that dark cloud in which God did anciently so often manifest his presence for the comfort of his saints, and for the terror and punishment of evil-doers. The design of these words is to describe either,

1. The depth and unsearchableness of God’s judgments. Or,

2. The obscurity of Christ’s coming, that the Divine Majesty did veil himself with flesh, and came not with that outward splendour which the Jews expected. Or rather,

3. The terror of his presence and coming to his enemies, of which he manifestly speaks in the following verses; and of which the prophets frequently speak when they make mention of his corning, as Joel 2:31,Joel 2:32; Malachi 4:1.

Righteousness and judgment, i.e. righteous judgment, or righteousness in judgment. The habitation; or, the foundation, or establishment; for the throne is established (and the Hebrew verb there is the same from whence this word here comes) by righteousness, Proverbs 16:12. All his decrees and administrations are grounded upon and managed with righteousness.

Verse 3

This fire, and lightning, and earthquake, and the sad effects of them, mentioned here, and Psalms 97:4,Psalms 97:5, signify those dreadful judgments of God which should be inflicted upon the Jews and others for their refusal and contempt of the Messias; which was foretold in the Old Testament, and accomplished in the New Testament.

Verse 4

His lightnings enlightened the world: this phrase signifies not so much illumination as terror and judgments, as appears both from the following words, and from the constant use of the phrase in that sense, as Psalms 18:14; Psalms 144:6, &c.

Verse 5

The hills; the strongest and loftiest parts of the earth; whereby he may understand the great potentates of the world who set themselves against the Messias.

The Lord of the whole earth; whose dominion shall not then be confined in Canaan, as now in a manner it is, but shall be enlarged over the whole earth.

Verse 6

The heavens; either,

1. The thunders, and lightnings, and tempests sent from heaven to plead his righteous cause against his enemies. Or,

2. The angels, yea, God himself from heaven, who gave manifest testimony to the righteousness of the Messias.

All the people see his glory; both Jews and Gentiles shall see and feel the glorious effects of his coming.

Verse 7

Confounded be all they; let them be ashamed of their former folly herein, and be thereby brought to detest and forsake them; and those who will obstinately persist in their impiety and idolatry, let them be brought to confusion. Or, they shall be confounded; for this may be a prediction, and not an imprecation.

All ye gods; all you whom the Gentiles have made the objects of their worship, and who are capable of giving him worship; which two qualifications agree principally, if not solely, to the angels of God, whom the heathens manifestly worshipped in their images as an inferior sort of gods, of whom therefore this text is expounded, Hebrews 1:6.

Verse 8

Zion; thy people dwelling in Zion, or Jerusalem, and Judah, to whom Christ came, and among whom the gospel was first preached. Or, thy church and people, who both in the prophetical writings are oft called Zion. Heard the fame of thy judgments, as the following words declare; the ruin of idolatry and the setting up the kingdom of the Messias in the world.

The daughters of Judah; particular churches, or rather persons, members of Zion.

Rejoiced; not that they took pleasure in the ruin of others, but because that made way for the advancement of God’s glory and Christ’s kingdom in the world.

Verse 9

As thou always wert so in truth, so thou hast now proved and declared thyself to be such in the eyes of the whole world, by subduing them under thy feet.

Verse 10

Ye that love the Lord; O all you who love and worship the true God and his anointed, and rejoice in the establishment of his kingdom.

Hate evil; show your love to him by your abhorrency of all idolatry, which is sometimes called evil or sin by way of eminency, and of all other wickedness. And although you that love the Lord Christ and his kingdom will meet with many troubles and persecutions, yet be not discouraged, for he will preserve you in troubles, and in his time deliver you out of them all.

Verse 11

Light, i.e. joy and felicity, as this word is used, Esther 8:16; Psalms 112:4, and oft elsewhere.

Is sown; is prepared or laid up for them, and shall in due time be reaped by them, possibly in this life, but undoubtedly in the next. And therefore bear your afflictions for Christ with patience and cheerfulness.

Verse 12

In consideration of his holy and righteous nature and government, or of his faithfulness in making good that great promise of sending the Messias into the world; for holiness is sometimes taken for faithfulness, which is one part or branch of it.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 97". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/psalms-97.html. 1685.
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