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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 97

Verses 1-12

This psalm, which opens like the ninety third and some others, was composed by David, when the whole of the promised land was given to him for a kingdom, and when God had also given him rest from his enemies round about. By this they knew something of the character of David, and the glory of David’s God.

Psalms 97:1 . The Lord reigneth. Hebrews JEHOVAH, the Messiah, who comes to judge the earth, as in Psalms 50:3; Psalms 98:9. In this David was a type of Christ, under whose feet all things are put in subjection.

Psalms 97:7 . Worship him all ye gods. So Jerome; but the LXX and the Vulgate read, worship him all his angels. In this manner the apostle cites the passage in Hebrews 1:6. The Chaldaic gives it as a command to all gentile princes to worship the Lord; to kiss the Son, lest he be angry with them, and they perish. The sense is, that all in heaven, and all in earth, and all in hades, must bow before the Son of God, and own his supreme dominion. Philippians 2:10. Colossians 1:18. Hebrews 1:8. Revelation 5:13.

Psalms 97:8 . Zion heard and was glad. All Jerusalem blazed with joy, and all the choirs exulted with music and songs, when they heard of the fall of their foes.

Psalms 97:11 . Light is sown for the righteous. The light of divine truth, which, received by faith, produces life. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. John 1:4. And gladness, with every other grace and fruit of the Spirit, shall multiply as seed that is sown, to the upright in heart.


How grand and striking is the way in which this psalm opens. “JEHOVAH reigns.” The nations have cause to rejoice. He is not an oppressor like the tyrants of the earth; his throne is distinguished by judgment and justice, while the sceptre of mercy is extended with the sword. The being and perfections of God are inferred in the most striking characters from the glory of his works, and the wisdom of his ways. In regard to the wicked, the description given of their punishment is highly terrific. Moses has mentioned the devouring fire, and the fire that kindled the coals on the altar. Elijah also saw the fire which went before the Lord in Horeb; but the fire here alluded to seems to be some tragic event, as the burning in the uttermost parts of the camp mentioned by Moses, or some occurrence whereby the wicked knew that God was a consuming fire. See Psalms 18:8; Psalms 106:18. Numbers 16:35. The visitations of God may be represented by thunder, by the quaking of the earth, and the fall of princes by the melting of mountains: yet if there be a literal sense, that should always be stated, in order that the spiritual improvement may stand on fair ground. This whole psalm consequently associates itself with the predictions of the Messiah’s kingdom. As God assumed terrific characters in giving the law, and in judging ancient nations, so he will appear in terror to shake all nations, and confound the votaries of idolatry.

Whatever calamities befal the wicked, light is sown for the righteous. The seeds of virtue and piety will ultimately lead to spiritual and temporal prosperity; yea, while men fear God and hate evil, the divine providence will admirably preserve them through life, and cause their joys far to exceed their sorrows. This idea runs through all the sacred writings. Psalms 112:4. But when God sees meet to try man, or to take him to glory, it is of little moment what agent he employs to hasten his saints to heaven. Rejoice then in the Lord, ye righteous; for the kindness of friends, and the enmity of foes, are alike managed for your greater purity, and the augmentation of your eternal joy.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 97". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.