The Lord Reigneth – Rejoice! Psalm 97

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Psalm 97:1 The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. We read it and easily move on without much consideration. But a moment’s thought raises all sorts of difficulties.
Does the Lord reign over hostage situations and the death of innocent victims? Does He reign over the atrocities of war?
Does He reign over floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters that claim thousands of lives each year? Does the Lord reign over famine, starvation, and deadly diseases?
Does He reign over the prolonged disease or untimely death of a loved one? Does He reign over the tensions in your marriage or the struggle and heartache of dealing with a rebellious child?
Does He reign over the relatively minor frustrating circumstances that you faced last week?
This psalm instructs us that the Lord’s reign should be a cause for rejoicing. He does not say, “The Lord reigns; grit your teeth and grudgingly submit.” He certainly does not say, “The Lord reigns; shake your fist at Him and let Him know how angry/bitter you are because of your trials.” No, he clearly says, The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice. The Lord’s sovereignty should cause all people to be glad.
The LORD reigns — rejoice. Amidst all these things God sits upon the throne... sovereign. He orders all events. He sways His scepter over all. He orders all things according to His own will. He secures the accomplishment of His own purposes. In all places, on all occasions, and in all times, Jehovah reigns.
He reigns in the earth, the continents and countries across the globe (v1). He reigns in the isles, the remote and lonely places (v1). He reigns on His throne (v2) and in the darkness (v2). He reigns in the universe (v6). He reigns in Zion, in His Church (v8). He reigns among the daughters of Judah, in godly homes (v9). And He reigns in the souls of His saints (v10).
Where God reigns, and where subjects submit to Him, there is all happiness and spiritual joy.
The LORD reigns from a foundation of righteousness and justice (v2-5). God’s power is not arbitrary, but expresses God’s character of mercy and truth; righteousness and judgment. And God exercises this rule by intervening in the history of His people.
Nature responds to the LORD’s reign (v6). The laws that carefully govern all things in heaven allow for predictive practices, and assurance to mankind. Every item in the heavens has a path and orbit it maintains. Each item is influenced by other items in its orbit. They have continued to obey the laws that govern them. This demonstrates to the observer that God is so great He not only created the celestial bodies, but governs their actions by laws that remain unbroken.
Lauren Tousignant wrote in a New York Post article (October 25, 2017): “Our existence is one giant, inexplicable head scratch. The universe shouldn’t technically exist, according to top scientists who have spent their careers trying to figure out how the beginning of everything didn’t immediately destroy itself.” What did she miss? Why does the world even exist, and continue to exist? The Lord reigns!
People respond to the reign of the Lord (v7-8), but the response is mixed. The psalmist frankly admits that not all people worship God. And so when God’s glory is revealed, those who worship idols are ashamed—even the idols bow down before the one true God! (v7).
The big ”I” is perhaps our strongest idol. Which king is reigning on the throne of our hearts?
The Lord reigns unrivaled (v9). Despite the mixed response of people, this psalm reaffirms that God is exalted over the earth and far above all gods (97:9). Not “will be exalted” - He IS exalted.
The Lord’s reign offers hope for us personally (v10-11). He preserves MY soul. He delivereth ME out of the hand of the wicked. He sows light for ME. He sows gladness for ME.
The LORD reigns — rejoice (v12). When the kingdom of God is proclaimed, the righteous takes courage. There is a place of security and strength for the child of God who, with an unwavering faith, trusts in the sovereign, ruling hand of a loving, heavenly Father. In spite of situations that appear out of control, God is moving in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.