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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 97

Verse 1

Psalms 97:0.

The majesty of God's kingdom. The church rejoiceth at God's judgments upon idolaters. An exhortation to godliness and gladness.

The Greeks call this, "A Psalm of David, after his land was restored to him;" i.e. as Bishop Patrick explains it, after he was made master of all those countries which God anciently designed to be the inheritance of Israel. See 1 Chronicles 18:1-2. But in its sublimer meaning it belongs to Christ's triumph over the grave at his resurrection. This appears from those words which the apostle to the Hebrews alleges out of the 7th verse, and applies to Christ's royal power and authority over angels: and this the Hebrew Rabbis themselves, as Kimchi confesses, take to be here intended. Agreeably to this, the title of the psalm, in the Syriac version, says, "This psalm foretels the coming of Christ." The attentive reader will observe a great similarity between this and the 18th psalm: the poetical imagery of both is exceedingly lofty and grand; and the thoughts and style of both are so much alike, that it cannot be questioned whether they were both written by the same hand. To give an instance: The invisibility of God is thus finely described in the 18th psalm, the 9th and following verses: Darkness was under his feet: he made darkness his secret place: his pavilion round about him were dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies: and then, to shew that by this dark and gloomy scene he only meant to describe that attribute of God, the Psalmist adds, Psalms 97:12. At the brightness that was before him, &c. In like manner the same attribute is here thus described, Psa 97:2 clouds and darkness, &c. and then too it presently follows, in the very next verse, A fire goeth before him. The curious reader will compare the whole, and judge for himself.

Verse 2

Psalms 97:2. The habitation of his throne The basis, or foundation of his throne. It may be proper just to observe, that as the verbs in these first verses are in the present tense, so they should be throughout. In Psalms 97:4. His lightnings illuminate the world; the earth seeth, and trembleth: Psalms 97:5. The mountains melt like wax, &c. Every reader of taste must discern the sublimity of the passages, thus translated.

Verse 7

Psalms 97:7. Confounded be all they, &c.— Let them all be ashamed, who worship graven images; who applaud themselves in vanity. Mudge. The next sentence, Worship him, all ye gods, or elohim, is applied by the Apostle to the Hebrews, to the worship paid by the angels to Christ. The Vulgate, LXX, and several other versions, render it, Worship him, all ye angels. But we shall say more on this when we come to Hebrews 1:6.

Verse 8

Psalms 97:8. Because of thy judgments i.e. "Thy righteous determinations in favour of thy people."

Verse 11

Psalms 97:11. Light is sown for the righteous Light and gladness are sown for the righteous, the righteous nation, in opposition to the wicked mentioned just before: victory and every kind of blessing God has wrought into the very nature of things for their benefit. In Psalms 126:0 there is reaping, and sheaves of joy. Houbigant, however, translates it in the same manner as our old version, is sprung up.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The Lord reigneth. This is the glorious subject; all power in heaven and earth is committed into his hands.

1. It should be matter of joy to all. Let the earth rejoice in the blessings which attend his government: let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof; and among the rest especially our own, so highly favoured with the light of his glorious gospel: though sometimes, as to us it appears, clouds and darkness are round about him, and his dispensations of providence or grace are dark and mysterious; yet, notwithstanding, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne, the basis and support of it, and all his decisions most indisputably equitable.

2. His wrath will be terrible to those who refuse obedience to his government. A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about; which was seen in the vengeance executed on the Jewish people, who would not have him to rule over them; and will more eminently appear when he shall be revealed at the last day from heaven in flaming fire, and the breath of his mouth shall slay the wicked, 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:12. His lightnings enlightened the world; and, struck with terror at the judgments which, swift and irresistible as the flash of lightning, fell upon his murderers, the earth saw and trembled. The hills, his mighty opposers, proud of their strength, and immovable in their obstinacy, melted like wax at the presence of the Lord: at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. Thus the Jewish nation were consumed before the Roman sword; and thus the powers of Antichrist shall be dissolved, when he ariseth in the latter day to shake terribly the earth. Note; However secure and confident sinners are at present, the day is near when their stout hearts shall melt, and their knees tremble before the eternal Judge and King.

3. His judgments, executed on the ungodly, will be acknowledged as altogether righteous. The heavens declare his righteousness; the lightning and thunder, employed as instruments of his vengeance; or the angelic hosts, who laud and praise him for the justice executed on the wicked: and all his faithful people see and acknowledge his glory, manifested in their salvation, and in the destruction of the impenitent. Confounded be all they, or they shall be confounded, that serve graven images, whether heathen or popish idolaters; which may be considered as a prophecy of the ruin they will bring upon themselves by such abominations; and that boast themselves of idols, which is remarkably verified in the Papists, who glory in their pictures and images of the Virgin Mary and their saints, and place such confidence in them, with a folly equal to their wickedness, and which at last will be manifest to all men: worship him, all ye gods; the angels, so called, who adore him for all his works of righteous judgment. Note; (1.) Jesus is very God; the angels worship him, and teach us where to pay our adorations. (2.) If they are our fellow-servants, and fellow-worshippers, what folly, as well as profaneness, would it argue to make them the objects of our devotions.

2nd, It was commanded, that the whole earth should rejoice in the establishment of Christ's kingdom on the ruin of his enemies; and, however others may be affected, his Zion, his church, and the daughters of Judah, all faithful souls, cannot but be glad.

1. They have abundant cause to be so.
(1.) Because of the dignity of their Redeemer's person. For thou, Lord, art high above all the earth; the name of Jesus is above every name, not only on earth but in heaven, and all power is given him over them both: thou art exalted far above all gods; not only the fictitious deities of men; but the angels, principalities and powers, are all subject to him.

(2.) Because he preserveth the souls of his saints. This is their character: they are separated by his grace from a world which lieth in wickedness; they are justified through his merit, and upright in heart by the power of the Divine Spirit, renewing their minds in true holiness; they love the Lord, unfeignedly make him the object of their affections, and cleave to him alone. Such souls are precious in his sight; he preserves them from the power of sin, and strengthens them against every temptation: he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked, of wicked men, or wicked devils, who seek to seduce and destroy them, but cannot, for God is their refuge and strength; and therefore they are bound to praise him.

(3.) Because light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Whatever darkness may at times surround the providential path of the faithful, at even-tide it shall be light, and the brightness of eternal glory awaits them. Though for a moment they may be now in heaviness through manifold temptations, yet even in the midst of their sorrows God's comforts do refresh their souls, and quickly every tear shall be wiped from their eyes; and joy and gladness, eternal and uninterrupted, be their happy portion.

(4.) Because of his judgments. The justice of God magnified in the damnation of the wicked, as well as the mercy of God exalted in the salvation of the righteous, affords just matter for his faithful people's everlasting praise.

2. The manner in which they must express their joy and gratitude is described. (1.) Rejoice in the Lord, in Christ Jesus, not in ourselves, our own doings, or deserts, but in his promises and grace. (2.) Give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness, with our lips we must speak to his honour, and his holiness be especially the theme, at which sinners tremble, and saints rejoice. (3.) Hate evil: our lives as well as lips must shew forth his praise; without which all the offerings of the tongue and knee are unacceptable, and hypocritical. Note; (1.) The love of God, where genuine, cannot but produce hatred of sin. (2.) The more we keep in mind God's holiness, the more we shall be deterred from approaching whatever is offensive to him.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 97". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.