Tuesday, August 08, 2023

2023.08.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 97

Read Psalm 97

Questions from the Scripture text: With what declaration does the psalm begin (Psalm 97:1a)? Which subjects rejoice over this reign (verse 1c)? Where do most of the images in Psalm 97:3-5 come from (cf. Exodus 19:16–18, Exodus 24:17; Deuteronomy 4:11; Judges 5:5; Hebrews 12:18–21)? What attributes were gloriously declared from there (Psalm 97:2b)? What else declare His righteousness and display His glory (Psalm 97:6, cf. Psalm 8:3–4; Psalm 19:1–6)? What does this do to those who deny or exchange this glory for idols (Psalm 97:7, cf. Exodus 20:4–6; Romans 1:18–25)? Who have an opposite response to the idolaters (Psalm 97:8)? Over what do they especially rejoice (verse 8c)? What do they rejoice that these judgments display about Yahweh (Psalm 97:9)? What must those who love Him and His judgments hate (Psalm 97:10a)? What is YHWH specifically doing for them (verse 10b–c)? What does He call them? What does He produce for whom (Psalm 97:11)? How are they to respond (Psalm 97:12)? 

How do people respond at YHWH’s judgment? Psalm 97 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twelve verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that at YHWH’s judgment, the whole creation is undone and re-done, the wicked are put to shame, and the righteous are filled with gladness.  

Let the earth rejoice! Psalm 97:1–6. This Psalm launches with the Romans 8:18–25 hope. One day, the creation will have been “delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). For now, however, “the whole creation groans and labors” (Romans 8:22). Why, then, is it rejoicing in Psalm 97:1? Because, together with the “new song” Psalms on either side of it, this Psalm looks to “the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19), the day when the bodies of those adopted sons will have been redeemed (cf. Romans 8:23). 

The Lord often makes display of His power and wrath and righteousness by way of the creation. No such display was greater than the flood in Genesis 6–9, and the display at Sinai in Exodus 19 communicates the same. Psalm 97:2-6 pick this up with the clouds and darkness and fire and earthquake. The mountain itself seemed to melt (Psalm 97:5), just as Sinai flowed (“gushed,” Judges 5:5). All peoples can see the heavens which declare His righteousness (v6a) and glory (Psalm 97:6b, cf. Psalm 19:1–6). 

Let all be put to shame who serve carved imagesPsalm 97:7. How foolish all idolaters will be exposed to have been, the moment their life in this world is done, or the moment that Christ appears in the sky! Right now they “boast” in their idols (verse 7b), but those idol-gods will be humiliated before Yahweh (verse 7c). The wicked may seem to have the godly in their grasp, but even out of their hand, YHWH will deliver His saints (Psalm 97:10c). Dear reader, it is profoundly shortsighted to live for anything other than the Lord as your purpose. It is profoundly short-sighted to desire anything apart from the Lord as your pleasure. It is profoundly short-sided to depend upon anything apart from the Lord as your power. Have Him as all of these, or you will be put to shame at the very worst time—and forever.

Zion hears and is gladPsalm 97:8-12. For their part, the Lord’s people join in the gladness of the creation. Or rather, it is the Lord’s people’s gladness that the creation enjoyed. For Romans tells us that the glorious freedom belongs to the children of God, and the creation joins us in it. The emphasis is clearly gladness. Zion is glad (Psalm 97:8a). The daughters of Judah rejoice (verse 8b). Gladness is sown for the upright in heart (Psalm 97:11b). The righteous rejoice in YHWH (Psalm 97:12a). 

YHWH Himself is the object of this gladness. He comes with benefits like judgments, preservation, and deliverance. But it is His exaltation (Psalm 97:9) in these things that is the point. God’s people go by many names here: Zion, daughters of Judah, His saints, the righteous, the upright in heart. But perhaps the most striking is “You who love YHWH” in Psalm 97:10a. He Who set them apart to Himself as saints has given them love for Himself so that they would indeed be righteous. 

Doesn’t your love for YHWH just make you hate evil? It’s a wonderful chain reaction. His calling gives us love for Him. Our love for Him makes us hate evil. All things are moving toward His redeeming the called and destroying all wickedness. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Weekly, we may visit not burning, black, dark, storming Sinai (cf. Hebrews 12:18–21) but glorious Zion with the rejoicing company there (cf. Hebrews 12:22–24), from which the Mediator speaks, Who will shake all things as a consuming fire, but bring us into and unshakable kingdom (cf. Hebrews 12:25–29). What an excellent song for this Christian worship is Psalm 97!

What evidence is there that you love God? What evidence that you hate evil? How glad are you? From this Psalm, upon what might you meditate to increase in gladness? When especially do you get to do this?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You have given to us to belong to You and to know already, by faith, things that are not seen and not yet. Give to us to love You, to hate evil, and to rejoice over You, Who will surely put an end to all evil. Hasten the day when the earth is glad with us, as we rejoice over Your ultimate exaltation! But even as we wait, give us to partake of the joy of that day in the glorious assembly each week, when we join the congregation of the firstborn in Zion above, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP97B “Since You Love the LORD” or TPH97B “The LORD Reigns, Let the Earth Be Glad”

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