This powerful Psalm records the writers address to three specific groups or persons. In (v.1-7) he makes declarations describing the attributes and actions of the LORD ending with an admonition to the LOST. In (v.8,9) he speaks to the LORD with statements of praise for His working and His position in the universe. Then he concludes in (v.10-12) with direct commands and encouraging statements to the LOVERS of the LORD.
The opening statement sets the tone for the rest of the Psalm: "The LORD reigneth" which is also the opening statement of Psalm 93 and Psalm 99 tying the three together as they focus on His exaltation, holiness with emphasis on the necessity to worship Him.
But, Psalm 97 makes a definite appeal to the LOST as it delineates the awe-inspiring characteristics of a God Who deals in "judgment...burning up His enemies...the earth saw, and trembled...the heavens declare His righteousness, and all the people see His glory." (v.2-6)
This convicting revelation of the God of heaven appeals to those who are without Christ and on their way to a Godless hell for eternity with the last statement in this section pointing to the future judgment of the wicked: "Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship Him all ye gods." (v.7)
The cure for those who are LOST is to recognize the LORD for Who He is and "worship Him", coming to Him with a heart of faith willing to turn away from the life of serving graven images and boasting of idols and fully turn to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
Secondly the Psalmist speaks to God: "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."
The response of God's people is recorded using the familiar Hebrew parallelism mentioning Zion and the daughters of Judah underlining the place of favor and the tribe which God would use to bring forth His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
The gladness and rejoicing from God's people finds its source in the judgments of God referring to His declarations of truth in the area His inherent righteousness which is focused upon repeatedly in (v.2,6) which show that God's righteousness is "the habitation of His throne" which the "heavens declare".
The praise reaches its summit in (v.9) giving the LORD the highest position possible "exalted far above all gods." Soundly illustration the position the LORD has in the mind of the writer, and in reality the estimation of His chosen people.
This lofty exaltation of the LORD will once again ring out when the Redeemer comes to Zion and in a special way from the tribe of Judah mentioned as the first to be sealed in Revelation 7 and the LORD returns bringing deliverance to the nation at the end of the age.
The Psalm closes with direct commands to the LOVERS of the LORD telling them to "hate evil...Rejoice in the LORD...and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness." (v.10-12) These simple but direct but direct injunctions display the life of the believer in brief.
First of all "Ye that love the LORD hate evil" showing that if we truly love our God we must at the same time have a healthy hatred for evil, not the evildoer, but the evil. Love the sinner hate the sin! Win the soul that's nearest hell was the goal of a renowned evangelist of a generation ago and he was right on the mark.
Then, rejoice in the LORD which must be the attitude of the victorious Christian summarized in this admonition made easy to remember REJOICE REGARDLESS. Herein lies the so-called secret to the Spirit-filled walk. Recognizing that whatever comes our way, God has allowed, so rejoice, give it to the LORD, put it in His hands, "Have faith in God" (Mark 11:22), He is in charge!
And, finally, giving thanks specifically "at the remembrance of His holiness". The basic command "in everything give thanks" is a companion command to "rejoice in the Lord" demonstrating the believer's satisfaction with the circumstances and events of life which the LORD has allowed.
But, here, His holiness comes into view, setting Him apart from all other 'gods' which is in itself pinpointed as the reason for the giving of thanks. God is holy and there is none like Him and we must recognize this and obey this command to thank Him for Who He is and what His holiness means to us and our "so great salvation".
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