The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and consumes his foes on every side.
His lightning lights 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 peoples see his glory.
All who worship images are put to shame,
those who boast in idols –
worship him, all you gods!
Zion hears and rejoices(Ps. 97:1-12 NIV)
and the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments, Lord.
For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
Let those who love the Lord hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light shines on the righteous
and joy on the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,
and praise his holy name.
The LORD reigning is a great cause for rejoicing. There is no limit to the geographic range of the Lord’s reign. Try to imagine a great orchestra and extensive choir with the Psalmist as the conductor. At the front and centre of the choir are the people of God and with his baton, the Psalmist conducts their praise. Then on the second stanza he signals to the periphery (the distant shores v1) of the choir to join in. The whole choir now swells the chorus in praise of the covenant Lord. I have this picture in my mind for both Psalms 97 and 98.
The Lord comes in clouds and thick darkness. This the picture of many of the theophanies in the OT. It portrays the great and awesome Day of the Lord. The throne that the Lord reigns from is built on a foundation of righteousness and justice.
The coming of the Lord creates the appearance of fire going before Him, putting down all who would oppose Him. His presence lights up the world. The earth sees and trembles before the Most High God. The mountains melt like wax before Him. He blazes a path to accomplish His will and no-one can stand before Him. The heavens already display the glory of the Lord, but when He comes to establish His kingdom in righteousness, all will see the glory of His coming.
At the Lord’s coming, all who have wasted their time worshipping images of false gods will be ashamed that they had got things so badly wrong. The gods are contemptible fictions of the imaginations of people. Their created gods will not serve them on that day, because the Lord alone will be seen to be God.
The people of God throughout the land rejoice in God’s rule.
Those who love the Lord are instructed to hate evil. The Lord guards the lives of His people and delivers from the hand of the wicked.
The godly enjoy the light and love that God gives to the righteous. The presence of the Lord renews His people. Our satisfaction is in God, light to live by and joy in our hearts.
Lord we thank You that You deal with us with grace and mercy. We thank You for times when You have refreshed our souls and made us rejoice in the God of our salvation. Lord it is well with our souls because You have saved us and caused us to want to do all things Your way. Forgive us when we fail, and strengthen our resolve to serve You with joy and gladness in our hearts, because we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.