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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 97

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-12

Psalms 97:1-12.

V. 1. The Septuagint entitle this ’A ’ Psalm of David, after his land was restored to him,’ meaning that he composed it, when he was re-established in his government, after Absalom’s rebellion. But, what-ever gave occasion to it, no doubt " the Spirit of God, " speaking by" the Psalmist, foretold the kingdom of Christ, and his victories. This verse may literally be thus rendered, " JEHOVAH reigneth, the earth shall rejoice ; " yea the multitude of the isles shall be glad thereof." It is a direct prediction of the conversion of the Gentiles to Christ, and their joy in him : and the evidence from prophecy appears very much obscured, by rendering such prophecies as exhortations. When, in the twelfth verse, the righteous are exhorted to rejoice in God, the imperative, not the future tense, is used. ’ He sheweth that ’ where God reigneth, there is all felicity and spiritual ’ joy. The gospel shall not be only preached in Judea, ’ but through all isles and countries. ’ We Britons, as ’ inhabiting one of those heathen isles, and enjoying so ’ fair a portion of evangelical blessings, have reason to repeat this verse with a particular pleasure and energy.

’ The Hebrews called by the name of " isles," c" , not ’ only countries surrounded by the sea, but all the countries ’ which the sea divided from them ; so that the term became synonymous with " Gentiles." Thus it is said, Is. 42: 4, " The isles shall wait for his law ;" which passage, ’ Matthew 12:21, is expounded as follows, "In him shall ’ " the Gentiles trust." ’ Bp. Home. Europe, however, and the isles between Asia and Europe, seem more generally meant by this expression. (Notes, Genesis 10:2-5, conclusion. Is. 24: 13- 15. 42: 10- 12; 60. 8, 9; 66. 19- 23. Zephaniah 2:11.)

V. 2. " Clouds and darkness" may either denote the terrors, with which the Lord appals his enemies, when he goes forth to execute righteous vengeance upon them ; or the obscurity which rests upon his dispensations and dealings with his people, till the accomplishment of his promises and prophecies throws light upon them. (Notes,Psalms 77:19-20. Nahum 1:2-6, v. 3.) But, however it may appear to his creatures, or even to his most eminent saints ; however they may be ready to say, " All these things arc against me," or, " Hath God forgotten to be gracious? " and however the wicked may blasphemously revile his awful justice, as tyranny or cruelty ; yet righteousness and judgment are the basis, the support and establishment, " of " his throne." (Notes,Psalms 89:13-14. Psalms 99:4.) His mercy-seat is founded on judgment and righteousness ; the justification of the believer, through the merits and atonement of Christ, magnifies the law, and honours the justice of God, as well as his grace. Every providential dispensation, whatever present appearances may be, springs from the same glorious union of justice and mercy, in the manifold wisdom, truth, and faithfulness of God. And " the day of wrath will be the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man " according to his deeds." (Notes, Romans 2:4-6; Romans 3:21-31.)

V. 3- 7 In the deep but righteous judgment of our King, Jerusalem and its inhabitants were miserably destroyed, as by a consuming fire, for their enmity to him and his kingdom. (Notes, Matthew 22:1-10; Matthew 24:1-2.) The subversion of the deep-rooted foundations of idolatry, throughout the immense Roman empire, during the first three centuries, and by the conversion of Constantino

the emperor to Christianity, may next be predicted, in me taphorical language taken from the displays of the divine power and presence at mount Sinai. (Notes, 1. 1- 6. Exodus 19:16-20. Deuteronomy 4:11; Deuteronomy 5:22-29; Deuteronomy 33:2. Hebrews 12:18-21.) The mountainous obstructions, which before seemed to render the general promulgation of Christianity insurmountable, thus melted before God, like wax before the fire: (Notes, Is. 64. 1-3. Micah 1:2-4:) the devoted worshippers of idols, even the greatest of them, were alarmed as by tremendous lightnings and earthquakes. His righteousness, in the destruction of the persecuting tyrants of those times, was conspicuous as the heavens : all the people, or peoples, beheld the divine glory, in making his cause triumphant : and the pagans were confounded, and ashamed of their idols, in which they had so long gloried. Not only did angels worship the exalted Redeemer; but rulers, who are the vice-gerents of the great God, submitted to him, and became his subjects : and all the mighty ones of the earth prostrated themselves before him, who had thrown down the idol gods of the heathen, by his presence and power. (Marg. Ref.) The Septuagint render the word translated " gods," by angels and thus the apostle quotes the verse, when speaking of the dignity of Christ. (Notes, Psalms 95:3. Hebrews 1:5-7) Hence we learn that Christ himself as Emmanuel, is peculiarly intended. He is the Object of universal adoration : and all the angels of God, (instead of receiving worship from Christians, according to the abominable idolatry of the Roman Antichrist,) are fellow-worshippers with Christians, when adoring the great Redeemer. Thus they were, under the law, represented by the Cherubim bowing down over the ark, " desiring to look into these things ; " and in many respects joining in Israel’s worship : and thus they are introduced by John, as joining in the praises of the church, and saying, " Worthy is the Lamb that was " slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and " strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." (Notes, Exodus 25:10-21. 1 Peter 1:10-12. Revelation 5:11-14.)

V. 8, 9. (Note, Psalms 48:11.) ’Jerusalem, the mother ’ city, hath received the news of thy victories with a joyful ’ heart; after whose example all the other cities of Judah ’ are exceeding glad, O Lord, because thou hast judged ’ righteously in destroying our idolatrous enemies, and ’ defending thy faithful servants.’ Bp. Patrick. Whatever events gave occasion to the Psalm, the spiritual victories of the Lord our Saviour were certainly predicted. The church and all her assemblies, hearing of these revolutions, would greatly rejoice to see the judgment of God upon his enemies, and his exaltation above all the gods of the heathen. " There is joy in the presence of the " angels of God, over one sinner that repenteth ; " much more was there when the Redeemer triumphed over the idols of the heathen, and the kingdom of the devil. Thus the tidings brought to the apostles, concerning the conversion of the Gentiles, caused them to rejoice and glorify God. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Luke 15:8-10. Acts 15:1-6; Acts 21:17-21. Revelation 19:16.)

V. 10. ’ Shew your love to the LORD, by hating and forsaking all sin.’ There is a peculiar emphasis in this caution, with reference to the events supposed to have been predicted ; as it is well known, that secular prosperity soon corrupted the visible church, in a most lamentable manner, and brought in an inundation of evils, which are by no means terminated at this day. Yet the souls of the faithful remnant have in every age been preserved, notwithstanding the snares of the world, in-dwelling sin, the contagion of false doctrine, and the fury of persecution. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 37:27-28. 1 Samuel 2:9. 1 Peter 1:3-5.) ’ The redeemed ... are characterised by their " love ’ " of God ; " they are enjoined to " hate evil : " this ’ hatred is indeed a consequence and a sure proof of that ’ love, when it is genuine and sincere. ...A Christian must ’ not only serve God outwardly, but must inwardly " love" ’ him : he must not content himself with abstaining from ’ overt acts of sin, but must truly hate it. They who do ’ so, are " the saints of God, whose souls he preserveth" ’ from evil, and will finally " deliver " from the evil one, ’ and his associates, by a happy death, and a glorious re’ surrection.’ Bp. Home. (Notes, Romans 8:28-39.)

V. 11. ’Though God’s deliverance appear not suddenly ; yet it is sown and laid up in store for them.’ (Notes, Psalms 112:4. Psalms 126:5-6. Galatians 6:6-10.) Light is the emblem of knowledge, holiness, and joy : and it is here compared to seed, which lies long under the clods, but at length comes up and yields an increase. (Note, 1 John 1:5-7) St. James exhorts Christians to wait and be patient, after the example of the husbandman : but he means real Christians, " the upright in heart," who hate evil, and are true saints; for God will surely preserve them. (Marg. Ref. Notes,Psalms 73:1; Psalms 84:10-11. James 5:7-11.)

V. 12. Give thanks, &c.J Or, " Praise, for a memorial, " &c." that is, " Celebrate the memorial of his holiness." (Notes, Psalms 30:4. Psalms 111:4. Matthew 26:26-28.) ’ Tribulation ’ ... should not prevent our " rejoicing in Jehovah our righteousness," who justifieth us from our sins ; no adversity ought to make us negligent in celebrating, with ’ thanksgiving, the " commemorations of his holiness,"... ’ to the end that we may alway remember, with gratitude, ’ how great things he hath done for us already, and reflect ’ with comfort on those much greater things, which he ’ hath promised to do for us hereafter.’ Bp. Home.


The wise and righteous government of God is well calculated to rejoice the hearts of all rational creatures, except rebels, who have exposed themselves to his powerful vengeance : but the kingdom of JEHOVAH, as administered by the eternal Son, who has pardons to confer on the most guilty, is a source of joy even to the sinful inhabitants of the earth. The gospel also, when preached to those, who before " sat in darkness," calls for the exercise of gratitude and gladness ; and this our favoured isle has peculiar cause to be thankful : yet, alas ! how few prize these privileges, or rejoice properly on account of them ! Under every dispensation, the counsels and dealings of the infinite God are too mysterious for man’s comprehension : but in the event we shall see, and now we ought to believe, that, when " clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the basis of his throne." It is, however, evident from history, that from time to time, his wrath, like a consuming fire, has gone " before " him to burn up his enemies round about." When he comes in his power to set up his kingdom, all opposition must melt away like wax before the fire ; and dismay and ruin must be the effects of obstinate rebellion against him : whilst the inhabitants of heaven will " adore his " righteousness, and all the people shall see his glory." Confusion will be the portion of all those, who worship and glory in graven images ; and surely this idolatry is no less criminal icithin, than it is without, the pale of the visible church ! The destruction of the imperial authority of pagan Rome, which had for ages been employed to support idolatry, was but a prelude of the destruction of that antichristian power which soon succeeded it, but has far surpassed it in impieties and iniquities : (Notes, 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12. Revelation 18:4-8:) and the Lord Jesus will ere long come, and confound all idolaters throughout the earth, and put an end to idolatry of every kind. All the angels of God worship him : we cannot therefore err in joining their adoration, and in " honouring the Son, even as we honour " the Father : " (Note, John 5:20-23:) and the monarchs of the earth will never consult their own interest and honour, till they prostrate themselves before him, and use their authority in obedience to his commandments. (Note. Psalms 2:10-12.) As these events take place, the church of God, in every land, does greatly rejoice : nay, we cannot but be glad on account of those judgments of God upon persecuting tyrants, which promote the success of his gospel. But if we really love the Lord, and desire that his " name should be hallowed, his kingdom come, and his " will be done on earth as in heaven ; " (Notes, Matthew 6:9-10;) we shall in proportion hate and dread the evil of sin, and carefully watch against the commission and the occasions of it. This is the best expression of our love, and our most effectual method of forwarding those desirable events. The remnant of upright believers shall be preserved in the worst of times ; and the light of joy and consolation is sown for them, in a good soil, and will surely spring up and ripen to a glorious harvest. Let us then rejoice in the Lord, though in the world we have tribulation : let us thankfully recollect, that his purity, justice, truth, and goodness, are pledged to support and deliver all, who trust in him : and, as he infinitely hates sin, yet freely loves the person of the sinner who believes in Christ ; he will certainly make a final separation between the man whom he loves, and the sin which he hates, and sanctify his people wholly, in body, soul, and spirit.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 97". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-97.html. 1804.
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