Psalm 97:11
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Light is sowni.e., scattered. The metaphor must not be pressed so as to think of a harvest to come. The image is an obvious and common one.

“Sol etiam summo de vertice dissipat omnes

Ardorem in partes, et lumine consent arva.”

LUCRETIUS.

And Milton, while enriching its metaphor, doubless had the psalm in his mind:—

“Now morn, her rosy steps in the Eastern clime

Advancing, sow’d the earth with orient pearl.”

Psalm 97:11-12. Light is sown for the righteous — Joy and felicity, as the word light often signifies, are prepared or laid up for them, and shall in due time be reaped by them, possibly in this life, but undoubtedly in the next; and therefore the followers of Christ, who are taught to expect tribulation in this world, may well bear their afflictions with patience and cheerfulness, for, though they sow in tears, they shall, without fail, reap in joy. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous — Let the streams of comfort which flow to you through the channel of Christ’s kingdom lead you to the fountain, and cause you to rejoice in God your Saviour; and give thanks in remembrance of his holiness — In consideration of his holy and righteous nature and government, or of his faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, in sending the Messiah into the world and establishing his kingdom among men. Observe, reader, whatever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving, and particularly the holiness of God. They that hate sin themselves are glad that God hates it, in hopes that therefore he will not suffer it to have dominion over them. 97:8-12 The faithful servants of God may well rejoice and be glad, because he is glorified; and whatever tends to his honour, is his people's pleasure. Care is taken for their safety. But something more is meant than their lives. The Lord will preserve the souls of his saints from sin, from apostacy, and despair, under their greatest trials. He will deliver them out of the hands of the wicked one, and preserve them safe to his heavenly kingdom. And those that rejoice in Christ Jesus, and in his exaltation, have fountains of joy prepared for them. Those that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. Gladness is sure to the upright in heart; the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment. Sinners tremble, but saints rejoice at God's holiness. As he hates sin, yet freely loves the person of the repentant sinner who believes in Christ, he will make a final separation between the person he loves and the sin he hates, and sanctify his people wholly, body, soul, and spirit.Light is sown for the righteous - That is, There is light for the righteous; or, they shall be brought into light, though they may be for a time in darkness. The word rendered "sown" - זרע zâra‛ - is from a verb which properly denotes to scatter, to disperse - as seed is scattered or dispersed when sown in a field. It is hence used with reference to moral subjects, as to sow righteousness, Proverbs 11:18; to sow iniquity, Proverbs 22:8; to sow mischief, Job 4:8; that is, these things are scattered or sown, as seed is in a field, and produce a corresponding harvest. Thus light is scattered abroad, and will produce an appropriate harvest - a harvest of joy. It will spring up around the righteous, and he shall reap that which light tends to produce - happiness, intelligence, and peace. The figure of sowing light is an unusual one, but the meaning is plain. It is, that the righteous will not always be in darkness; that there is in preparation for him a harvest of joy; that it will as certainly be produced as a harvest will from grain that is sown; that though there may be present calamities, there will be ultimate peace and triumph.

And gladness for the upright in heart - The word gladness here - joy, or rejoicing - is parallel to the word light. Joy or gladness is sown for the righteous; that is, arrangements are made for producing joy, as preparations are made by sowing seed for a harvest. The world is full of arrangements for conferring happiness on the righteous.

11. sown—to spring forth abundantly for such, who alone can and well may rejoice in the holy government of their sovereign Lord (compare Ps 30:4; 32:11). Light, i.e. joy and felicity, as this word is used, Esther 8:16 Psalm 112:4, and oft elsewhere.

Is sown; is prepared or laid up for them, and shall in due time be reaped by them, possibly in this life, but undoubtedly in the next. And therefore bear your afflictions for Christ with patience and cheerfulness. Light is sown for the righteous,.... Who are made righteous by the obedience of Christ, and live soberly and righteously; the light of joy and gladness, as it is explained in the next clause; see Esther 8:16 so, "light", is frequently used by Homer (x) for joy and gladness: these sometimes are without it, through the hidings of God's face, the prevalence of corruptions, the force of Satan's temptations, and the many afflictions they meet with; but joy and gladness, peace and comfort, are sown for them in the counsels and purposes of God, in his covenant, in the Scriptures, in the Gospel, and in the promises of it; and, though at present hidden, will spring up in God's due time, Psalm 112:4, and which also may be interpreted of the light of glory, which at present does not appear; but it is prepared in the purpose of God, and in his promise, and shall be enjoyed by the heirs of it. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, render it, "light is risen for the righteous"; and so the Targum,

"light is risen and prepared for the righteous;''

Christ, the light of the world, the sun of righteousness, is risen for them, and upon them, with healing in his wings, which bring joy and comfort to them:

and gladness for the upright in heart; such as have new hearts and right spirits formed in them, and are Israelites indeed, that have the truth of grace and the root of the matter in them: gladness is prepared, provided, and promised to them, and sooner or later they shall have it; the seed of it is sown, and it will spring up, and a large crop shall be enjoyed. Kimchi's note is,

"light is sown for the righteous in this world, and they shall reap light and joy in time to come, in the days of the Messiah.''

(x) Iliad 6. v. 6. & 8. v. 282. & 16. v. 39.

{i} Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.

(i) Though God's deliverance does not appear suddenly, yet it is sown and laid up in store for them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. Light is sown] The idea is rather that of the diffusion of light at the dawn than of a seed sown to bear fruit hereafter. For the metaphor cp. Lucr. ii. 211, “Sol lumine conserit arva”; and Verg. Aen. iv. 584, “Et iam prima novo spargebat lumine terras … Aurora.” But most of the Ancient Versions represent the reading, Light hath arisen for the righteous, as in Psalm 112:4 (cp. Psalm 104:22), and this is probably right. So the P.B.V. There is sprung up a light, from the LXX through the Vulg. For light as a metaphor for happiness and prosperity cp. Psalm 27:1; Psalm 36:9.Verse 11. - Light is sown for the righteous (comp. Psalm 112:4, "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness"). God sheds the rays of his grace on the path of the righteous man, enlightens his understanding, and illumines his spirit perpetually. And gladness for the upright in heart. Together with "light," he sheds abroad "gladness," the irrepressible joy which comes from a sense of his favour and protection. Again we have nothing but echoes of the older literature: Psalm 97:4 equals Psalm 77:19; Psalm 97:4, cf. Psalm 77:17; Psalm 97:5, cf. Micah 1:4; Psalm 97:5, cf. Micah 4:13; Psalm 97:6 equals Psalm 50:6; Psalm 97:6, cf. Isaiah 35:2; Isaiah 40:5; Isaiah 52:10; Isaiah 66:18. The poet goes on to describe that which is future with historical certainty. That which Psalm 77:19 says of the manifestation of God in the earlier times he transfers to the revelation of God in the last time. The earth sees it, and begins to tremble in consequence of it. The reading ותּחל, according to Hitzig (cf. Ew. ֗232, b) traditional, is, however, only an error of pointing that has been propagated; the correct reading is the reading of Heidenheim and Baer, restored according to MSS, ותּחל (cf. 1 Samuel 31:3), like ותּבן, ותּקם, ותּרם, and ותּשׂם. The figure of the wax is found even in Psalm 68:3; and Jahve is also called "Lord of the whole earth" in Zechariah 4:14; Zechariah 6:5. The proclamation of the heavens is an expression of joy, Psalm 96:11. They proclaim the judicial strictness with which Jahve, in accordance with His promises, carries out His plan of salvation, the realization of which has reached its goal in the fact that all men see the glory of God.
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