Psalm 97

1 The Lord reigns;
Let the earth rejoice;
Let the multitude of isles be glad!

Clouds and darkness surround Him;
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.

3 A fire goes before Him,
And burns up His enemies round about.

4 His lightnings light the world;
The earth sees and trembles.

5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.

6 The heavens declare His righteousness,
And all the peoples see His glory.

Let all be put to shame who serve carved images,
Who boast of idols.
Worship Him, all you gods.

8 Zion hears and is glad,
And the daughters of Judah rejoice
Because of Your judgments, O Lord.

9 For You, Lord, are most high above all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.

10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!
He preserves the souls of His saints;
He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked.

11 Light is sown for the righteous,
And gladness for the upright in heart.

12 Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.

Though the Hebrew text of this psalm has no heading, early Jewish tradition (i.e., the Septuagint) attributes it to David.

This psalm continues and further develops the idea with which the previous psalm ended—to wit: the coming of the divine King to permanently establish His kingdom on earth. As in the previous psalm, moreover, this look at God’s coming kingdom is intended with specific reference to the Son of God, as indicated by (1) the citation of verse 7b in Hebrews 1:6 with direct and exclusive application to Jesus, and (2) the clear references in this section to God’s presence—the manifestation of which is, according to John 1:18, always that of the Son of God. — Wechsler, pages 233-234.


This is the new song of Psalm 96, not new for heaven but new for earth.It sings of a new day for humanity—a day of righteousness and peace and brother hood. It will dawn when God causes His First-Begotten to return to the earth on the millennial morn, and commands all the angels to worship Him (Hebrews 1:7). In this quotation the Holy Spirit interprets the Psalm, and declares its God to be Messiah. — Williams, page 374.


The song pictures the gladness which will fill the world when Messiah is enthroned, His adversaries destroyed, and His people delivered. The “foundation” of that throne will be righteousness and judgment (v.2). The great islands of verse 1 figure the nations dwelling in the continents washed by the waters of the great oceans of the world. The previous psalm summons them to sin the song. Here they respond. — Williams, page 375.


[The psalm] begins with a clear affirmation of universal rule over all Creation—viz., “The LORD reigns” (more precisely “has been reigning”). The ensuing description of the features attending God’s manifest presence and the reaction thereto by the inanimate world itself parallels the phraseology of other passages referring either to (1) the display of His sovereign power in past history (i.e., verse 2a “Clouds and thick darkness,” to which compare Deuteronomy 4:11; 5:22: “Fire goes before Him,” to which compare Exodus 13:21; Leviticus 9:24, or (2) the future advent of the Son of God (i.e., verse 2b: “Righteousness and justice,” to which compare Isaiah 9:7; 11:4; Psalm 97:6: “All the peoples have seen [the “prophetic past tense”] His glory,” to which compare Isaiah 62:2) — Wechsler, page 234.

Verses 7-9 declare God’s authority over the “gods” (graven images and idols) of the Gentiles. This also includes angels who were worshiped as gods by the Gentiles.

Verses 10-12 declare God’s dominion over His people—the believing remnant.

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