(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from

The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon)  "Excerpted text

Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.  Materials are reproduced

by permission."

 

                                                Psalm 97

 

 

 

SUBJECT. As the last Psalm sung the praises of the Lord in connection

with the proclamation of the gospel among the Gentiles, so this appears to

foreshadow the mighty working of the Holy Ghost in subduing the colossal

systems of error, and casting down the idol gods. Across the sea to

maritime regions a voice cries for rejoicing at the reign of Jesus (v. 1), the

sacred fire descends (v. 3), like lightning the gospel flames forth (v. 4),

difficulties vanish (v. 5), and all the nations see the glory of God (v. 6). The

idols are confounded (v. 7), the church rejoices (v. 8), the Lord is exalted (v. 9).

The Psalm closes with an exhortation to holy steadfastness under the persecution

which would follow, and bids the saints rejoice that their path is bright, and

their reward glorious and certain. Modern critics, always intent upon ascribing

the psalms to anybody rather than to David, count themselves successful in

dating this song further on than the captivity, because it contains passages

similar to those which occur in the later prophets; but we venture to assert

that it is quite as probable that the prophets adopted the language of David

as that some unknown writer borrowed from them. One psalm in this series

is said to be "in David", and we believe that the rest are in the same place,

and by the same author. The matter is not important, and we only mention

it because it seems to be the pride of certain critics to set up new theories;

and there are readers who imagine this to be a sure proof of prodigious

learning. We do not believe that their theories are worth the paper they are

written upon.

 

DIVISION. The psalm divides itself into four portions, each containing

three verses. The coming of the Lord is described (vs. 1-3); its effect

upon the earth is declared (vs. 4-6); and then its influence upon the

heathen and the people of God (vs. 7-9). The last part contains both

exhortation and encouragement, urging to holiness and inculcating

happiness (vs. 10-12).

 

 

1   “The Lord reigneth;” -  This is the watchword of the psalm— Jehovah

reigns. It is also the essence of the gospel proclamation, and the foundation

of the gospel kingdom. Jesus has come, and all power is given unto Him in

heaven and in earth, therefore men are bidden to yield Him their obedient

faith. Saints draw comfort from these words, and only rebels cavil at them.

“let the earth rejoice;” -  for there is cause for joy. Other reigns have

Produced injustice, oppression, bloodshed, terror; the reign of the infinitely

Gracious Jehovah is the hope of mankind, and when they all yield to it the

race will have its paradise restored. The very globe itself may well be glad

that its Maker and liege Lord has come to His own, and the whole race of

man may also be glad, since to every willing subject Jesus brings untold

blessings - “let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.”  To the ancient

Israelites all places beyond the seas were isles, and the phrase is equivalent to

all lands which are reached by ships. It is remarkable, however, that upon

actual islands some of the greatest victories of the Cross have been achieved.

Our own favored land is a case in point, and not less so the islands of

Polynesia and the kingdom of Madagascar. Islands are very numerous; may

they all become Holy Islands, and Isles of Saints, then will they all be

Fortunate Islands, and true Formosas. Many a land owes its peace to the

sea; if it had not been isolated it would have been desolated, and therefore

the inhabitants should praise the Lord who has moated them about, and

given them a defense more available than bars of brass. Jesus deserves to

be Lord of the Isles, and to have His praises sounded along every sea

beaten shore. Amen, so let it be.

 

2   “Clouds and darkness are round about Him;” -  So the Lord revealed

Himself at Sinai, so must He ever surround His essential Deity when He

shows Himself to the sons of men, or His excessive glory would destroy

them. (Hebrews 12:29) - Every revelation of God must also be an obvelation;

there must be a veiling of his infinite splendor if anything is to be seen by finite

beings. It is often thus with the Lord in providence; when working out designs

of unmingled love He conceals the purpose of His grace that it may be the

more clearly discovered at the end. "It is the glory of God to conceal a

thing." Around the history of His church dark clouds of persecution hover,

and an awful gloom at times settles down, still the Lord is there; and

though men for a while see not the bright light in the clouds, it bursts forth

in due season to the confusion of the adversaries of the gospel. This

passage should teach us the impertinence of attempting to pry into the

essence of the Godhead, the vanity of all endeavors to understand the

mystery of the Trinity in Unity, the arrogance of arraigning the Most High

before the bar of human reason, the folly of dictating to the Eternal One

the manner in which He should proceed. Wisdom veils her face and adores

the mercy which conceals the divine purpose; folly rushes in and perishes,

blinded first, and by and by consumed by the blaze of glory - “righteousness

and judgment are the habitation of His throne.”  There He

abides, He never departs from strict justice and right: His throne is fixed

upon the rock of eternal holiness. Righteousness is His immutable attribute,

and judgment marks His every act. What though we cannot see or

understand what He doeth, yet we are sure that He will do no wrong to us

or any of his creatures. Is not this enough to make us rejoice in Him and

adore Him? Divine sovereignty is never tyrannical. Jehovah is an autocrat,

but not a despot. Absolute power is safe in the hands of Him who cannot

err, or act unrighteously. When the roll of the decrees, and the books of the

divine providence shall be opened, no eye shall there discern one word that

should be blotted out, one syllable of error, one line of injustice, one letter

of unholiness. Of none but the Lord of all can this be said.

 

3   “A fire goeth before Him,” - Like an advance guard clearing the way.

So was it at Sinai, so must it be: the very Being of God is POWER,

consuming all opposition; omnipotence is a devouring flame “and

burneth up His enemies round about.”   God is longsuffering, but when He

comes forth to judgment He will make short work with the unrighteous,

they will be as chaff before the flame. Reading this verse in reference to the

coming of Jesus, and the descent of the Spirit, we are reminded of the

tongues of fire, and of the power which attended the gospel, so that all

opposition was speedily overcome. Even now where the gospel is preached

in faith, and in the power of the Spirit, it burns its own way, irresistibly

destroying falsehood, superstition, unbelief, sin, indifference, and hardness

of heart. In it the Lord reigneth, and because of it let the earth rejoice.

 

4   “His lightnings enlightened the world. In times of tempest the

whole of nature is lighted up with a lurid glare, even the light of the sun

itself seems dim compared with the blaze of lightning. If such are the

common lights of nature what must be the glories of the Godhead itself?

When God draws aside the curtain for a moment how astonished are the

nations, the light compels them to cover their eyes and bow their heads in

solemn awe. Jesus in the gospel lights up the earth with such a blaze of

truth and grace as was never seen or even imagined before. In apostolic

times the word flashed from one end of the heavens to the other, no part of

the civilised globe was left unilluminated - “the earth saw, and trembled.”

In God's presence the solid earth quakes, astonished by His glory it is

convulsed with fear. To the advent of our Lord and the setting up of His

kingdom among men these words are also most applicable; nothing ever

caused such a shaking and commotion as the proclamation of the gospel,

nothing was more majestic than its course, it turned the world upside down,

leveled the mountains, and filled up the valleys. Jesus came, He saw, He

conquered. When the Holy Ghost rested upon His servants their course was

like that of a mighty storm, the truth flashed with the force and speed of a

thunderbolt, and philosophers and priests, princes and people were utterly

confounded, and altogether powerless to withstand it. It shall be so again.

Faith even now sets the world on fire and rocks the nations to and fro.

(Is not the Second Advent or Coming of the Lord Jesus associated with

Lightening? – Matthew 24:27 – CY – 2011)

 

5  “The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD,” - Inanimate

nature knows its Creator, and worships Him in its own fashion. States and

kingdoms which stand out upon the world like mountains are utterly

dissolved when He decrees their end. Systems as ancient and firmly rooted

as the hills pass away when He does but look upon them. In the Pentecostal

era, and its subsequent age, this was seen on all hands, heathenism yielded

at the glance of Jehovah Jesus, and the tyrannies based upon it dissolved

like melted wax - “at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.” His

dominion is universal, and His power is everywhere felt. Men cannot move

the hills, with difficulty do they climb them, with incredible toil do they

pierce their way through their fastnesses, but it is not so with the Lord, His

presence makes a clear pathway, obstacles disappear, a highway is made, and

that not by His hand as though it cost Him pains, but by His mere presence,

for power goes forth from Him with a word or a glance. O for the presence of

the Lord after this sort with His church at this hour! It is our one and only need.

With it the mountains of difficulty would flee away, and all obstacles would

disappear.  O that thou wouldest rend the heavens and come down, that the

mountains might flow down at thy presence, O Lord.  In the little world of

our nature the presence of Jesus in reigning power is as a fire to consume our

lusts and melt our souls to obedience. Sometimes we doubt the presence of

the Lord within, for He is concealed with clouds, but we are again assured

that He is within us when His light shines in and fills us with holy fear, while

at the same time the warmth of grace softens us to penitence, resignation and

obedience, even as wax becomes soft in the presence of fire.

 

6   “The heavens declare His righteousness,” -  It is as conspicuous as if

written across the skies, both the celestial and the terrestrial globes shine in

its light. (ch. 19) - It is the manner of the inspired poets to picture the whole

creation as in sympathy with the glory of God, and indeed it is not mere poetry,

for a great truth underlies it, the whole creation has been made to groan

through man's sin, and it is yet to share in the joy of his restoration - “and all

the people see His glory.”   The glorious gospel became so well known and

widely promulgated, that it seemed to be proclaimed by every star, and

published by the very skies themselves, therefore all races of men became

acquainted with it, and were made to see the exceeding glory of the grace of

God which is resplendent therein.   May it come to pass ere long that, by a

revival of the old missionary ardor, the glad tidings may yet be carried to

every tribe of Adam's race, and once again all flesh may see the glory of

Jehovah. It must be so, therefore let us rejoice before the Lord.

 

7   “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast

themselves of idols:” -  They shall be so; shame shall cover their faces, they

shall blush to think of their former besotted boastings. When a man gravely

worships what has been engraved by a man's hand, and puts his trust in a

mere nothing and nonentity, he is indeed brutish, and when he is converted

from such absurdity, he may well be ashamed. A man who worships an

image is but the image of a man, his senses must have left him. He who

boasts of an idol makes an idle boast - “worship him, all ye gods.”  Bow

down yourselves, ye fancied gods. Let Jove do homage to Jehovah, let Thor

lay down his hammer at the foot of the cross, and Juggernaut remove his

blood stained car out of the road of Immanuel. If the false gods are thus

bidden to worship the coming Lord, how much more shall they adore Him

who are godlike creatures in heaven, even the angelic spirits? Paul quotes

this passage as the voice of God to angels when He sent his Son into the

world. (Hebrews 1:6) - All powers are bound to recognize the chief power;

since they derive their only rightful authority from the Lord, they should

be careful to acknowledge His superiority at all times by the most reverent

adoration.

 

8   “Zion heard, and was glad;” -  While the heathen are confounded the

people of God are made to triumph, for they love to see their God exalted.

The day shall come when the literal Zion, so long forsaken, shall joy in the

common salvation. It did so at the first when the apostles dwelt at Jerusalem,

and the good days will come back again - “and the daughters of Judah

rejoiced” -  Each individual believer is glad when he sees false systems

broken up and idol gods broken down; (ch. 139:21-22 – CY – 2011) - the

judgments of the Lord afford unalloyed delight to those who worship the

true God in spirit and in truth. In the first ages of Christianity the believing

Israel rejoiced to see Christ's kingdom victorious among the heathen, and

Even yet, though for a while turning aside, the daughters of Judah will

sympathize in the wide spread reign of Jehovah their God, through the

gospel of His dear Son. As the women of Judah went forth to meet David

in the dance, singing his victory over the Philistine, so shall they chant the

triumphs of David's son and Lord.

 

9  “For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth:” -  And therefore do we

rejoice to see the idols abolished and to see all mankind bending at thy

throne. There is but one God, there cannot be another, and He is and ever

must be over all.  “Thou art exalted far above all gods.” As much as ALL

 is exalted above nothing, and perfection above folly. Jehovah is not alone high

over Judea, but over all the earth, nor is he exalted over men only, but over

 everything that can be called god: the days are on their way when all men shall

discern this truth, and shall render unto the Lord the glory which is due alone to

him.

 

10  “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil:” -  For He hates it, His fire consumes

it, His lightnings blast it, His presence shakes it out of its place, and His

glory confounds all the lovers of it. We cannot love God without hating

that which He hates. We are not only to avoid evil, and to refuse to

countenance it, but we must be in arms against it, and bear towards it a

hearty indignation - “He preserveth the souls of His saints;” - Therefore they

need not be afraid of proclaiming war with the party which favors sin. The

saints are the safe ones: they have been saved and shall be saved. God keeps

those who keep His law. Those who love the Lord shall see His love

manifested to them in their preservation from their enemies, and as they

keep far from evil so shall evil be kept far from them.  “He delivereth them

out of the hand of the wicked.”  It is not consistent with the glory of His

name to give over to the power of His foes those whom His grace has made

His friends. He may leave the bodies of His persecuted saints in the hand of

the wicked, but not their souls, these are very dear to Him, and He preserves

them safe in His bosom. This foretells for the church a season of battling with

the powers of darkness, but the Lord will preserve it and bring it forth to the

light.

 

11   “Light is sown for the righteous,” - All along their pathway it is

strewn. Their night is almost over, their day is coming, the morning already

advancing with rosy steps is sowing the earth with orient pearls. The full

harvest of delight is not yet ours, but it is sown for us; it is springing, it will

yet appear in fullness. This is only for those who are light before the Lord in

His own righteousness, for all others the blackness of darkness is reserved

(Jude 1:13) “and gladness for the upright in heart.”  Gladness is not only

for one righteous man in the singular, but for the whole company of the upright,

even as the apostle, after speaking of the crown of life laid up for himself,

immediately amended his speech by adding, "and not for me only, but also

for all them that love his appearing."  (II Timothy 4:8)  The upright ought to

be glad, they have cause to be glad, yea and they shall be glad. Those who are

right hearted shall also be glad hearted. Right leads to light. In the furrows of

integrity lie the seeds of happiness, which shall develop into a harvest of

bliss. God has lightning for sinners and light for saints. The gospel of Jesus,

wherever it goes, sows the whole earth with joy for believers, for these are

the men who are righteous before the Lord.

 

12   “Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous;” - The psalmist had bidden the

earth rejoice, and here he turns to the excellent of the earth and bids them

lead the song. If all others fail to praise the Lord, the godly must not. To

them God is peculiarly revealed, by them He should be specially adored -

“and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.”  - which is the

harmony of all His attributes, the superlative wholeness of His character.

This is a terror to the wicked, and a cause of thankfulness to the gracious.

To remember that Jehovah is holy is becoming in those who dwell in His

courts, to give thanks in consequence of that remembrance is the sure

index of their fitness to abide in His presence. In reference to the triumphs

of the gospel, this text teaches us to rejoice greatly in its purifying effect; it

is the death of sin and the life of virtue. An unholy gospel is no gospel. The

holiness of the religion of Jesus is its glory, it is that which makes it glad

tidings, since while man is left in his sins no bliss can be his portion.

Salvation from sin is the priceless gift of our thrice holy God, therefore let

us magnify Him for ever and ever. He will fill the world with holiness, and

so with happiness (II Peter 3:13), therefore let us glory in His holy name,

 world without end. Amen.

 

 

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