Often we want the Lord to move, we are sure the Lord will, and when He doesn’t we wonder why does God allow our suffering, why has he allowed the decline of the Church in any nation
I searched the scriptures for a word that may comfort us in a difficult, time, a footprints type sermon, one where we may be comforted and a promise that it won’t be to bad for us.
And here is what the Lord returned
Psalm 97:1 Jehovah reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of islands be glad.
In a nutshell this is my message for the Church, friends regardless of the times, regardless of the emotions, or feelings we have about a situation, we must return to this simple message in scripture to get us through, THE LORD REIGNS
It’s always good to read a psalm, but today through a study of this psalm we will see that this is the most excellent thought and how the psalmist writes to reveal the Nature of God’ actions, and how we can develop as mature Christians.
The word psalm means poetry to the music of a stringed instrument. We know that the psalms are rich in prophecy and is one of the most quoted books in the bible, next to Isaiah. Many of the psalms are attributed to David, but equally as many we don’t know who wrote them and we don’t know when they were written
Psalm 97 is one of these, its author and time frame are anonymous to us,
Often when this is the case, this reveals to us that the psalm is relevant to all generations and that all you need to understand it is on the page.
Psalm 97, dissected
V1, The word Jehovah as explained by the Lord himself in Deuteronomy,
And Jehovah passed by before him and proclaimed, Jehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the sons, and on the sons of sons, to the third and to the fourth generation. Exodus 34:6-7
Gen 10:5 By these were the coasts of the nations divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
this scripture reveals this is the gentile nations, making this a psalm relevant for all people.
Yet Verse1 is a statement of faith as great as Gen 1:1, it stands alone, it isn’t justified, Jehovah reigns, because?, well it doesn’t give a because instead it just says Jehovah reigns, this psalm does not explain why, he just does, I wonder if you believe that? If so, then all your troubles are cast away, because no matter what hardship, Jehovah reigns,
V2, is a comparative, we see two types of shroud, cloud and darkness, both previously used by God when he met and acted with the children of Israel, the third being fire, but the fire was used in judgment, and so its not used here, because that is not what the psalmist wishes to convey,
So why the cloud and darkness, well what they convey is that they hide God from the face of man, no man can see God and live, but you have to believe God is at work in the midst of his shroud, where his actions and thoughts are hidden from plain sight,
Now the remainder of the verse builds a synthesis of Gods actions, shrouded in mystery, but built upon the most excellent pillars, of righteousness and Judgment
Heb 1:8 But to the Son He says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
Heb 1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows."
Take heart from these verses, if you are waiting for God to act, or He hasn’t answered a prayer as you would of liked, God’s way are not ours, He acts as He wills,
But instead often we turn to men to save us. This is shown brilliantly in the book ‘Prince Caspian’ by C.S. Lewis. enemies are surrounding the Narnian’s and Lucy knows that Aslan will come to save the if they are patient. Peter’s reply is ‘if He was going to save us, He would have by now’. How often I wonder have we thought about the Lord in this way.
But v3 to 4 highlight how God does act in a series of comparative verses,
V3 , consuming fire
Heb 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear,
Heb 12:29 for also, "Our God is a consuming fire."
V4, lighting, in psalms talks of Gods judgment, and in the prophets signifies the speediness of Gods actions, and this is highlighted by our constant wait for Gods ultimate promise
Mat 24:27 For as the lightning comes out of the east and shines even to the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.
V5, we see mountains melting.
Mic 1:4 And the mountains shall melt under Him, and the valleys shall tear themselves, as wax before the fire, and as waters poured down a steep place.
In our minds this seems like a volcano, yet many scholars note their was no volcanic activity in the region at these times.
Instead we deduce the psalmist highlighting that the strongest thing known to them at that time mountains, and the most ancient and most predictable, hardwiring and always there, are as nothing to God when he acts, God can move the immovable
These verse highlight and build a synthesis, that God is a consuming fire against the unjust, acts more swiftly than lightning, and nothing can stop him,
This we like about God, but coupled with V2, where his actions are shrouded, means, God can do these things, when it is the right time.
Scripture is full of periods where God hardly acts and allows suffering to happen upon generations of his saints, many of the psalms have the words how long o Lord will you allow the wicked to …… and many books such as foxes book of martyrs Highlight that sometimes God doesn’t act.
Do we abandon God then, and say he is cruel and unusual, no because the second part of V2 highlights why God does not act yet. And his promises such as that of Mathew, give us reason to stand.
But more importantly the psalmist now gives us reason to stand, in v6
V6 is a contrasting verse, In that the heavens declare but the earth merely sees
Declare = naw gawd = proclaim, see = raw aw = behold
Yet the word for heaven here only refers to the natural heavens, the sky the celestial bodies, the kosmos, nature as we may deem it,
But this isn’t a look at nature and you will see the wonder of God in his creation as Paul writes it, instead the psalmist says to the reader, Gods very morality is revealed in the nature,
V7 is a contrast that follows this on, all the people see and Behold His glory, but v7 gives us two group, those who perceive and those who don’t, those whom are ashamed for what they did and those who aren’t, yet the psalmist highlights that there Gods are subject to him
What do you do when you perceive his glory, are you ashamed of your actions, or do you count in your deeds or new leaders, not realising that even they are subject to God
V8-9 create a synthesis to reiterate this point, that Jehovah is higher than any other authority. Yet it begins with the statement Zion rejoices in your judgments.
The Church rejoices in Gods actions, in his ways, we may dare to criticise our leaders, our bosses our politicians, we could do it better,
But not God, because as we have seen his throne is built upon right ness and Judgment of sin, his acts are purposeful, we cannot tell God how to act, we must not but instead be as Ezekiel when asked can these dry ones live, Lord you know.
V10 – 12 reveals how we might act, When we understand that Gods way are not our ways,
V10 is a statement reiterating V1, but its also comparative Love Jehovah and hate evil are two ways of doing the same thing, it then creates a synthesis to help us build a picture of why we should wait on God, and not act our selves
It is God who keeps us, it is God who delivers from the evil,
Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject to the higher authorities. For there is no authority but of God; the authorities that exist are ordained by God.
V11 is not a comparative but a synthesis highlighting, what the Lord has done for us, so that we remember we don’t worship God for what he will do, but what he has done
The wonderful promise of light being sown for us
Joh 12:46 I have come as a Light into the world, so that whoever believes on Me should not remain in darkness.
And why should the upright in heart be glad,
Psa 7:10 My defence is from God, who saves the upright in heart.
Because they can expect salvation.
so in v11 we are left with the conclusion of this line of thought, Rejoice in Jehovah, and give thanks to the memory of his holiness. This point to the communion table as an act of Worship, not one of contrition. It is not by your penance, but His holiness which means we can be saved. Rejoice in that, and let that Rejoicing lead to repentance.
In short friends Psalm 97 is unapologetic, in its simple message, worship God, why, because He is God,
Often we jump in and don’t wait on the Lord or accept that He is in control, we want action, The psalmist teaches us this action is to worship Him and accept be obedient to the Lord’s leading,
What we have seen is that God is able, so if He is able why do we not consider the reason is that it is not within his timing or planning and therefore we must be patient and accept God is sovereign