Daily Family Worship

Psalm 97: The Lord Reigns!

by | Jun 8, 2024

psalm 97

“The Lord reigneth.” No matter what all outside appearances may seem to dictate to us, and in spite of all evidence which suggests the sovereignty of the devil – God is upon the throne! He does not hold the scepter loosely, by giving part of His sovereignty to another; He never relaxes His hold of dominion; amid all the changing seasons, He pursues His own sovereign will.

Now, what kind of person should this great good news make of us? What ought to be the tone and disposition of our life? I think the Psalmist proceeds to give the answer: “Let the earth rejoice.” The word rejoice is suggestive of nimble movement and busy activity – like that of birds on a bright spring morning. “A bit of sunshine makes all the difference,” people say; and here in this text, the sun is up and shining! “The Lord reigneth,” and so we – His children – are to rejoice and be as busy as birds on the bright spring day. “Let the multitude of isles be glad!” The soul must not only be vigorous; its vigor must be set to music! The fact of the sovereignty of God should make us as happy and active as birds.

However, all this seems to be challenged by the words which immediately follow in the second verse. Why does the Psalmist introduce the ministry of the cloud? Because he knew that joy which is not touched with reverence is superficial or unreal. Joy is never at its sweetest until it is touched by awe. And therefore, the suggestion of the mysterious dealings of God is not intended to smother the song, but rather to deepen and enrich it. Every grace needs the accompaniment of reverence if it is to be perfected.

But now, in order that the gathering cloud and darkness may not paralyze men, something is told us as to what dwells in their innermost place. “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” The darkness may throw men into perplexity, and yet the darkness itself is regulated by the Lord of the noonday! In the very midst of the cloud and the darkness, there is the throne of righteousness and judgment. Therefore, our reverence must be inspired with confidence, and not stricken down with cowering fear. “A fire goeth before him and burneth up his enemies.” We need the pure flame of His presence; we need the ever-burning atmosphere in which all defilement is consumed.

And now the Psalmist turns away to retrospect. He has proclaimed the sovereignty of God, and now he turns to the things of yesterday to find the confirmation of that message. “His lightnings lightened the world.” Who does not know the lightning-like interposition of God? He flashes upon us unexpectedly! Sometimes we almost forget His Divine hand. The nearness and the depression of the cloud almost cause us to forget Him. At other times, we wonder if He will ever return. And suddenly He appears! “The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord.” The Divine One suddenly interposes, and the obstacles melt away. Have we not known this experience? The difficulties towered in front of us like gigantic hills, and we saw no way over the tremendous heights. And then – suddenly and half-unexpectedly – the hills melted, and the difficulties vanished away! Missionary-literature abounds with descriptions of such experiences, but every one of God’s people could also produce confirmations of this truth. Jehovah has suddenly interposed, the difficulty has withered away, the “outsiders” have seen the glory of the Lord, and His leadership and righteousness have been declared. It is this lightning-like interposition which confounds the ungodly. They turn pale as they behold the passing away of the hills, and the triumph of those who are meek and lowly in heart – “but Zion heard and was glad!”

Now, in the face of the good news that “the Lord reigneth,” and with this corroboration from the witness of experience – what shall we do? The Psalmist supplies the answer: “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil!” This is the foundation of everything. And what shall be our reward if we are possessed by this lovehatred – this twin-ministry of mortifying grace? “He preserveth the souls of his saints.” We shall be kept by God. He will build fences around us to guard us from peril. Moreover, “light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” We will not only be preserved, we will also be illuminated. The Lord will give us the light that we need. Our light will not only be sure; it will be glad sunlight! It ministers to the warmth of our hearts as well as to the illumination of our minds. It comforts us and leads us. It is a genial presence, as well as a counselor.

Lord, we repent of the natural sin and darkness that our hearts are guilty of. And since You have redeemed us and brought us into a loving relationship with Yourself, we pray that You would enable us to hate all evil! Amen.  

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