The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.
We have set before us in this text:
I. The fact of the Divine government of the universe. There is no atheism here: "the Lord." There is no polytheism here: "the Lord"—one. There is no pantheism here: "the Lord "—One different from the world that is ruled over. (1) The sacred singer here speaks of a God who exercises a personal agency in the universe. "The Lord reigneth." That implies power. (2) The psalmist suggests to us the fact that this personal agency of God is carried on in a regular and ordinary way. The words are, "The Lord reigneth;" and we read also in the passage of "His throne."
II. A second point is the mystery and awfulness of the Divine government. "Clouds and darkness are round about Him." The symbol expresses three ideas: (1) the majesty, (2) the incomprehensibility, (3) the judgments, that characterise the Divine government.
III. The moral excellence of the Divine government. "Justice and judgment are the habitations of His throne."
IV. The feelings which a contemplation of this Divine government is fitted to excite. (1) There is first the feeling of awe and contrition. (2) There is the feeling of joy.
W. Morison, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 126.
References: Psalm 97:1.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 308. Psalm 97:2.—T. Rogers, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 253. H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2603. Psalm 97:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 208.
I. That the present life is but a sowing-time to the righteous. (1) Now the text evidently teaches that light is sown by the righteous, and not only for them; yet, forasmuch as evil and good work together in spiritual things, we may fairly regard the righteous as having to do with both. If they themselves are in one sense the ground, they themselves are in another the mere tillers and cultivators of the ground. They must sow light, and they shall also reap light. (2) It cannot justly be said that a man has light unless there has passed over him the great moral change of conversion. When, through the workings of the Spirit of God, a man is renewed, made to feel himself a sinner and to flee to Christ as a Saviour, he may justly be described as translated "out of darkness into marvellous light." The light falls on himself, on God, on the present and on the future. (3) Is this light perfect? It is thoroughly correct as far as it goes. It requires to be expanded, and is defective in nothing but compass. The future, as compared with the present, is the harvest-time as compared with the seedtime.
II. The more interesting trains of thought suggested by the passage follow from the supposition that God Himself is the Sower. We feel at once that there is something like a contradiction in this simile of the psalmist, because it would seem that light would cease to be light in being sown or hidden in the ground. But God can hide light in darkness. It is light when thus sepulchred. From the first God has been acting on the principle of sowing light for the righteous. He has sown light for the righteous in the dealings of Providence, in the passages of the Bible, in the whole pathway of life.
III. The psalmist does not limit the "sowing" to any particular season. As though the seed of life were always being deposited in the ground, he uses language which may denote that there is continually a fresh harvest in preparation for the righteous. The righteous shall always be in progress, one harvest of light furnishing, so to speak, seed for another. (1) The lesson to the righteous is to hold hopefully on, determining in the name of the Lord and staying on his God. (2) The lesson to the wicked is that, though God is sowing no light for them, they are sowing light for themselves. They must wake at last to the fearful discovery that they have been their own destroyers. "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2164.
References: Psalm 97:11.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv., No. 836. Psalm 98:1.—Ibid., vol. ix., No. 496. Psalm 98:1-8.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ix., p. 221.
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.
A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about.
His lightnings enlightened the world: the earth saw, and trembled.
The hills melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.
Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.
Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD.
For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.
Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.