Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 97b

a 3 min read

Rejoice in the Lord

In yesterday’s meditation there was no mention of gladness or joy. The response to the coming of Christ from a self-centred world, now facing inevitable judgement, was one of fear and trembling.

However, at the beginning of this second section, we are taken to Zion, the City of God, and of God’s people, and what a difference in their response: ‘Zion heard and was glad’ (v8).

The reason is that they are taken up with the person Christ Himself. Let’s take a look at reasons to rejoice found in this section.

Rejoice in His Authority

‘the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of thy judgments, O LORD.’ (v8)

The word ‘judgments’ speaks of an authoritative decision given, and we are reminded from Mark 1:21, that the Lord Jesustaught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes’.

We can rejoice that in the Word of the Lord there is a clarity and a directness that gets to the heart of any issue (consider Mark 10:18), and provides an answer to any problem. This is something we don’t see among men, and how amazed the people were when ‘with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him’ (Mark 1:28).

Truly, the authority of Christ is divine, but sadly, many rebel against His authority. We can rejoice, however, that in the end, ‘he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power’ (1 Cor 15:24).

Rejoice in His Pre-eminence

‘For thou, LORD, art High above all the earth; thou art exalted far above all gods.’ (v9)

The title ‘Elyon’, given here as ‘High’, but better translated ‘Most High, speaks of the absolute supremacy of our God. This was the position that Lucifer ultimately desired.

‘How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning … For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven … I will be like the most High’. (Isa 14:13,14)

But Satan could never have this position, ‘For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak … But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man’ (Hebs 2:5-15).

How precious that Luke, who will write in his Gospel about that Perfect Man, will also emphasise this Highest position (Luke 1:32, 2:14, 6:35, 19:38), and Paul will conclude: ‘that in all things he might have the preeminence’ (Col 1:18).

Rejoice in His Love

‘Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.’ (v10)

How we rejoice that our Lord ‘delivers’ and ‘preserves’, and our only response is one of love: ‘Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory’. (1 Peter 1:8)

Yet, we recognise that we only ‘love Him, because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). For ‘God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us … so we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement’ (Roms 5:8,11).

Rejoice in His Light

‘Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.’ (v11,12)

And having ‘received the atonement’, we are justified and sanctified – declared righteous and made holy. Thus, we are now able to rejoice in the light of His presence, ‘and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness’.

It ought to always touch our heart when we consider that the One who ‘knew no sin’ – was impeccable, and not able to sin – ‘was made sin for us’ (2 Cor 5:21), and as a result, ‘put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself’ (Hebs 9:26).

Now ‘this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood … for such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens’ (Hebs 7:24-26).

What a reason to rejoice, but there is more, for in grace, the ‘light is sown for the righteous’. The word ‘sown’, could also be translated ‘scattered’, and when we think of scattered light, we think of a blue sky, cloudless and clear. This is our portion.

Let’s rejoice with the hymn writer, Charles Austin Miles:

I’m living on the mountain, underneath a cloudless sky,
I’m drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry;
O yes, I’m feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply,
For I am dwelling in Beulah Land.

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