A devotion of Psalm 97
1 The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
If you have no other reason to be filled with joy today, you just found one! Just the fact that he is in control is reason for you to jump for joy. We rejoice because he is the mightiest. We rejoice because he is loving. We rejoice because he delights in us. We rejoice because he has a plan and it is a good one. We rejoice because he overcomes evil. We rejoice because he defeats the enemy. We rejoice because he defeats death and the grave. We rejoice because we shall be glorified. Our faith shall be turned to sight and we shall see him face to face. Rejoice, beloved. I will say it again, rejoice!
2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.
4 His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
In scripture, the Lord repeatedly shrouds himself in clouds and thick darkness. Does he do so for our protection? Darkness can be just as dramatic as light. In Psalm 18, David paints a formidable picture of God, our amazing Cloud Rider on a mission to save his beloved. In his justice he takes care of all the bad guys and vindicates those who are righteous in him. It is a terrible sight for all mankind. But those who know him and are loved by him will sigh in relief that they are in his good books.
“He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning,” vs. 9-12.
For those with spirit eyes to see, this happens regularly. Every time we pray, God intervenes in dramatic ways. For those who choose to see, he is riding clouds all day and all night long for us, for our children, for our friends, for his church – doing fierce battle and delivering his children from the hands of the enemy and from his snares. Never look at a cloud the same way again.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
His righteousness, tsedeq, indicates his rightness. Its root word means justice and justification. All people will look at all things God has done and nod in assent saying he was right all along – in everything! That will make him all the more beautiful and splendid in our eyes. Then we shall be caught up in that glory as he shares it with us.
7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!
Psalm 96 taught us that idols literally mean “nothing.” They have no power, no comfort, no healing, no joy, and no purpose. They are void, naught, no. Why would we flee to them? The end thereof is shame, bush, meaning to be pale, disappointment, dryness, and delay. Why would we fling ourselves at those ‘graven images’ when all we get in return, no matter how much we love them, is ‘nothing?’ Let’s stop worshipping them and worship our all in all instead.
8 Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O LORD.
This beautiful prophetic psalm paints God’s beloved rejoicing as a result of his judgements. He will judge and make all things right in the end. And it will not be delayed, though it sometimes appears to be. In that moment, we will see that even his timing is impeccable. We will see that he held out for the intensification of our glory and vindication and for the utter destruction of the wicked.
9 For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
“Higher than the mountains that we face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains, yes, one thing remains…”Gateway Worship
Trials and change can loom as large as mountains and seem just as stable and formidable. But God alone is our Ethan – our mighty unchanging fortress. These mountains shall melt before his presence like wax before a flame. Visualize that image and worship your God. (htk)
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Imagine all disease, all terrorists, all hate, all suffering, all sin, all addiction. All horrible things that dominate our landscape shall melt like wax – all of it! And we shall be caught up in that grand drama. Therefore, we can say with Job, in the worst of his brutal affliction, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27.
10 O you who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Father give us an aversion for evil. Help us hate it with everything that it within us. May the presence of Holy Spirit in us be as an allergy to wickedness. May it vex and irritate us so we want none of it.
I love the thought that he preserves and delivers our lives a thousand times a day if we are averse to evil. Conversely, if we love evil, we find ourselves locked up in Satan’s snare again and again – or dead! Hating evil is God’s escape plan for us. If we hate lies, or pride, or sexual immorality, or callousness towards the suffering of human beings, he saves our lives over and over. If you find you have a propensity to cozy up to a particular type of evil, ask Holy Spirit to help you attack it like a mad person.
11 Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Rejoicing and thanksgiving are your modus operandus, beloved. How blessed you are to be called righteous, not because of what you’ve done or not done, but because of his amazing grace. “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, rejoice!” Phil. 4:4 and “He who offers a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way rightly [who follows the way that I show him], I shall show the salvation of God,” Ps. 50:23.