Read: Psalm 97:1; 1 Chronicles 16:7 – 36; Isaiah 52:7; Revelation 19:6
The author of this psalm is not named in the Hebrew title, but the language echoes that of David’s psalm in 1 Chronicles 16. Psalm 97 tells us many truths about the Lord, and for each fact it gives us about God, suggests a corresponding result or response. The truth revealed in Psalm 97:1 is that God reigns; the corresponding response is that the earth should rejoice.
Think About It: See Isaiah 30:1 and Ephesians 2:2– why are there those who do not rejoice at the idea that the Lord reigns? How do I feel about this truth? What makes it a cause for rejoicing?
Prayer: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. . .
Read: Psalm 97:2; Deuteronomy 29:29; Daniel 2:20 – 23; Matthew 13:35; Isaiah 5:16; Amos 5:24; Job 42:1 – 3
The first truth about God revealed in Psalm 97:2 is that God dwells in mystery. Psalm 97 presents a contrast between the “clouds and thick darkness” which surround God, and the lightning with which He enlightens the world. The human mind cannot fully comprehend the vastness of God, but God has made known many things about Himself with great clarity. The second truth about God revealed in Psalm 97:2 is one of those things God reveals: that His throne is founded on righteousness and judgment.
Think About It: Isaiah 5:16 and Amos 5:24 are two of the thirty-three verses in scripture where the words righteousness and judgment and found together, usually in relation to God. What are some possible implications of this frequent linking of “righteousness” and “judgment” with God? Do I ever doubt that God is dealing fairly with me or others?
Prayer: Praise God because His throne is founded on righteousness and judgment.
Read: Psalm 97:3 – 8; Psalm 19:1 – 6; Psalm 50:6
The truth revealed about God in Psalm 97:3 – 8 is that God is revealed in His holiness and judgment to all of His creation. Some commentators refer the phrase “his lightning enlightened the world” to the tongues of fire that fell on the Apostles on Pentecost, leading to the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the Gospel throughout the world. The psalmist probably had in mind the lightning on Mount Sinai, where God gave the law to Moses. The declaration of the heavens of God’s righteousness is a reference to the general revelation about the glory and power of God available to all people.
Think About It: Refer to Romans 1:18 – 21. What can people learn about God from general revelation? How do people typically respond to what they can learn about God from general revelation? Why do they respond that way?
Prayer: Thank God that He has made known the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit!
Read: Psalm 97:3 – 8; Zechariah 10:2; Isaiah 31:7; 37:19
In response to God’s lightning and mighty presence, the earth trembles, the hills melt like wax, all people see His glory, and idol worshipers are confounded. The Hebrew word for idol has a secondary meaning: “no value, good for nothing.” The Lord stands in vivid contrast to false gods.
Think About It: What are some modern day “good for nothing” idols? The psalmist calls on “all you gods” to worship the Lord. How do people play at being their own gods? Do I have any “no values” idols in my life? Is there any sense in which I am playing at being a god?
Prayer: Lord, I cast down every idol in my life; I acknowledge You are the Lord, there is no other.
Read: Psalm 97:8; John 5:22 – 24, 9:39; Luke 12:49; Jude 15; Revelation 14:7, 22:20
The response of God’s people, referred to as “Zion” and “daughters of Judah,” to God’s judgment is gladness and rejoicing. This is in contrast to the worldly response of trembling, melting like wax, and being confounded!
Think About It: How does the psalmist’s use of the phrase “daughters of Judah” add to our understanding of the eager anticipation God’s people have for the coming judgment? Am I eagerly anticipating Christ’s return?
Prayer: Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Read: Psalm 97:10 – 11; Esther 8:15 – 17; Isaiah 29:19; Nehemiah 8:10
Psalm 97:10 reveals the truth about God that He preserves His people and delivers them out of the hand of the wicked, with the result that they have light and gladness. The terms “light and gladness” are also used at the end of the book of Esther, whose story illustrates how God preserves and delivers His people.
Think About It: What are some implications of the phrase “light and gladness?” How have I experienced “light and gladness” in my life? How have I experienced God’s protection and deliverance?
Prayer: Thank God for His protection and deliverance.
Read: Psalm 97:1, 7, 10, 12; Proverbs 8:13; Amos 5:15; Leviticus 19:17; Luke 6:27
Psalm 97 contains several imperatives, the most striking of which is in verse ten: that those who love the Lord should hate evil. C.S. Lewis observed about this that every emotion was created by God for some purpose, and that the only appropriate focus for hatred is evil.
Think About It: How are we to define what is evil? What– and who — are we most emphatically NOT to hate? What are the other imperatives of Psalm 97? Am I following these imperatives in my walk with the Lord?
Prayer: Thanks be to God for His judgment and His reign.