September 27 2023
Today, Wednesday September 27
The Lord Is Exalted
1 The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad!
2 Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.
3 A fire goes before Him, And burns up His enemies round about.
4 His lightnings light the world; The earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples see His glory.
Psalm 97 is in group of psalms that has no title (Psalms 93-99). Many commentators of the Bible would say that the writer is anonymous, and we don’t know who wrote it. But Spurgeon, who was great student of the Bible and especially the Psalms, believes that David wrote this group of psalms and they were grouped together later by someone after the captivity in Babylon to give the remnant that returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple the courage and faith they needed to finish their work despite their circumstances.
Psalm 97 picks up the theme in Psalm 96:13 that described the King coming to judge His enemies and reward His people. “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.” Remember in Psalm 95, the emphasis was on God's people, Israel and their worship of their “great God and great King”. Psalm 96 focused our attention on the invitation to the nations and all the peoples of the earth to come and worship our great LORD and King.
Psalm 97 combines both themes and tells us in verse 9, “For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods”. This verse could be considered the theme verse for the whole chapter and reminds God’s people that He has all things under His control. Believers today see Jesus as God's exalted King. Remember in Peter’s first message on the Day of Pentecost he proclaimed, “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33). Paul wrote about Jesus being exalted after His resurrection in Philippians 2:5-11 and Ephesian 1:17-23.
The exaltation of Jehovah is the theme of Psalm 97. In verses 1-2, we see the LORD exalted on His throne. In verses 3-6, the LORD is exalted over His enemies. In verses 7-9, the LORD is exalted over the false gods of the earth. And in verses 10-12, the LORD is exalted among His people.
No matter what the circumstances around us or the feelings within us, "the Lord reigns" (Psalms 93:1; 96:10; 99:1; 117:1), and “He reigns over all the earth” (vv. 1, 4, 5, 9; Psalm 96:1, 9, 11,13; 98:3, 4, 9). His sovereign authority reaches beyond the land of Israel to the farthest islands and coastlands, places that the Jews had never visited. God's desire was that Israel be a light to the Gentiles (Gen. 12:1-3; Isa. 42:6; 49:6) to show them the truth of the one true and living God, just as the church today is to be a light to the world by sharing the gospel message (Luke 2:32; Acts 13:47).
I’ve always wondered about verse 2 where we read, “Clouds and darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne”. I’ve always pictured the throne of God surrounded by light, not clouds and darkness. But as you think about this verse you realize this is the way it is to the unbeliever, or the person who does not have faith in God, who has never been born again. Jesus said in John 3:3, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”.
Even for the believer, sometimes God’s throne might be surrounded by clouds and darkness, and we do not fully understand the mysteries of His providence as we go through difficult circumstances. But by faith we can know and believe that His throne rests on righteousness and justice and that "the Judge of all the earth will do right" (Gen. 18:25).
Yes, the psalm begins with darkness (v. 2) but ends with “Light that is sown for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart” (v. 11). Knowing that "the Lord God omnipotent reigns" (Rev. 19:6) ought to bring joy to our hearts and our worship (vv. 1, 8, 11, 12; see 96:11).