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Psalm 97 – Does God Reign In My Life?

Andy Yung

Psalm 97:1-12 NIV

This Psalm measures our faith, whether we have true faith or dead faith. The output of our faith reflects how much we really believe that God is our Lord. If we believe God reigns in our lives, we will have gladness and joy. We will desire others to allow God to reign in their lives as well.

We will love God’s righteousness and justice, and these will be the foundation of our life. We will believe that Judgement Day will come; and how terrifying that day will be if we are not faithful to God. Those who are not faithful (including many whom we know personally) will be even more terrified because they are not right in the eyes of God.

The most important verse regarding this is found in verse 10. God knows we are tempted by the wicked, to follow and join them. But God says He will guard us and protect us, and He will save us from the hands of the wicked so that we need not fear for our future.

Vs. 1

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

The Psalm begins with the Psalmist’s desire for the whole world to know that God reigns. He was filled with joy and wished for everyone, even in distant shores, to rejoice with him through embracing God’s kingship.

How much do we desire for the rest of the world to know God? If we don’t feel such longing, it is not because we lack love for the people around us, but because we don’t find joy in God. Do we allow God to reign in our lives?

I have struggled to rejoice during stressful times when I didn’t allow God to reign fully in all areas of my life. Reflecting on these unhappy times allows me to access these forgotten areas and let God reign in me again.

Vs. 2

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

The Psalmist could be referring to the time when God met the Israelites behind a dense cloud at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:9).

To me, God’s righteousness and justice are found at the cross. Because of His righteousness, He fulfilled His promise through the death of Jesus. Because He is righteous, He forgives us. God is just; the penalty for my sins must be paid in full, but Jesus has redeemed me by dying for me.

Vs. 3-6

Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side.

His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim His righteousness, and all peoples see His glory.

The Psalmist spoke about the wrath of God to come on Judgement Day. He used the imagery of fire, lightning and melting mountains to describe the fear of Judgement Day. We will all tremble when that day comes. All peoples will see His glory, but only those who are right with God will be saved and rejoice.

Vs. 7

All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols – worship Him, all you gods!

Who or what are we worshiping today? Every one of us worships something. ‘Worship’ comes from the old English word ‘worth-ship’, meaning what we consider in our hearts to be highly precious and our priority. Compare our worship of our career, possessions, passions and hobbies to our worship of God. Is there any difference in how much we treasure and prioritise them? The Bible teaches that those who worship in anything other than God will be put to shame.

Vs. 8-12

Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, Lord.

For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.

The Psalmist told his hearers that they would be glad when God judges them (if they worship God and not other images). We too will be glad and rejoice when God judges us because we have chosen to be with Jesus. Jesus is the Most High Priest. But first of all, if we claim to love God, do we hate evil? The Psalmist called his hearers who love the Lord to hate evil.

Vs. 10

“Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of His faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”

This important verse shows us God’s love. God knows how tempting evil is. Our world is ruled by unrighteousness, and this tempts us to follow the wicked. 2 Timothy 3 speaks about how unrighteousness will creep into our church. We will see fellow Christians love themselves more and get lured into sin.

When we witness wickedness, we may fear standing up against them and be tempted to follow them. But we need not be afraid, as God has promised that He will deliver us from the hands of the wicked. Trust God, He will guard our lives when we are faithful to him.

Vs. 11-12

Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise His holy name.

How are we today? Since we realise that God guards us and saves us from the wicked, let’s not let our troubles distort our belief and the way we conduct ourselves. When we desire to be righteous, God’s light will shines on us so that we see His words clearly. Understanding God’s words brings joy to our hearts.

What kind of joy are we experiencing? Is it the joy of earthy reward or the joy of God’s salvation? Only the latter is eternal. When we choose righteousness in God, we can rejoice in the Lord and praise His holy name.

Andy Yung

Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.

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