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The reign of the Lord on earth, introduced by the judgment of the wicked, leads to the blessing of His people and the glory of the Lord.
(v. 1) The psalm opens with an anticipation of the joy and gladness of the whole earth when the Lord actually reigns.
(v. 2) The gladness of His reign will be preceded by His coming as the Judge. We have thus a description of His coming in keeping with His character as the Judge. “Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.”
(vv. 3-5) The immediate effect of His coming as the Judge is brought before us. The fire of judgment will deal with all His adversaries. No evil, in any part of the earth, will pass unjudged; all will be searched out even as lightnings lighten the world. The earth will see and tremble. Everything that exalts itself against Jehovah will melt away “at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.”
(vv. 6-7) For long ages earth has declared the unrighteousness of man. With the coming of Christ to reign the heavens will declare the righteousness of the Lord. All the people will see the glory of the Lord declared in righteousness, even as at His first coming His grace was declared in humiliation. Shame will overwhelm all those who serve graven images and boast in their idols.
(v. 8) Moreover, the execution of judgment upon the adversaries, will bring deliverance to Zion. Therefore Zion will rejoice and be glad “because of thy judgments, O Lord.”
(v. 9) The judgment of the wicked and the deliverance of Zion will lead to the exaltation of Jehovah in His universal sway above all the earth. Thus the wicked are judged (vv. 2-7); Israel brought into blessing (v. 8), and the Lord exalted (v. 9).
(vv. 10-11) The godly remnant - “His saints” - who love the Lord and hate evil, had been preserved in trial, and are now delivered from the wicked. For such there is light and joy; for the wicked fire and darkness (vv. 2-3).
(v. 12) In view of these dealings of Jehovah, the godly are exhorted to rejoice and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. They are reminded that the holiness of the Lord is behind all His dealings.
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Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 97". "Smith's Writings". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter