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Psalm 97:9-12

9. For thou, Jehovah, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods. 10. Ye that love Jehovah, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his meek ones; he will deliver them out of the hand of the wicked. 11. Light has been sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. 12. Rejoice in Jehovah, ye righteous, and celebrate the memory of his holiness.

 

9 For thou, Jehovah, art high above all the earth Having already, in another place, explained these words, I shall not say more at present upon them. Only it is to be noticed, that there is a comparison drawn between God and the angels, and whatever has any claim to eminence. The Psalmist limits all other excellency in such a manner, as to leave no room for questioning that all majesty is comprehended in God only. This was the case more eminently when God manifested himself in his only-begotten Son, who is the express image of himself. Before that period his greatness was less apparent, because he was less known.

10 Ye that love Jehovah, hate evil Those that fear God are here enjoined to practice righteousness, as Paul says,

“Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity,”
(2 Timothy 2:19)

He shows from the very nature of God, that we cannot be judged and acknowledged to be his servants unless we depart from sin, and practice holiness. God is in himself the fountain of righteousness, and he must necessarily hate all iniquity, unless we could suppose that he should deny himself; and we have fellowship with him only on the terms of separation from unrighteousness. As the persecution of the wicked is apt to provoke us to seek revenge, and unwarrantable methods of escape, the Psalmist guards us against this temptation, by asserting that God is the keeper and protector of his people. If persuaded of being under the Divine guardianship, we will not strive with the wicked, nor retaliate injury upon those who have wronged us, but commit our safety to him who will faithfully defend it. This gracious act of condescension, by which God takes us under his care, should serve as a check to any impatience we might feel in abstaining from what is evil, 103103     “De nous tenir en bride, de peur qu’il ne nous soit fascheux ou grief de nous abstenir de malice,” etc. — Fr. and preserving the course of integrity under provocation.

11. Light has been sown for the righteous He confirms the truth just advanced, and anticipates an objection which might be brought against it. We have seen that the Lord’s people are often treated with the utmost cruelty and injustice, and would seem to be abandoned to the fury of their enemies. The Psalmist reminds us for our encouragement that God, even when he does not immediately deliver his children, upholds them by his secret power. 104104     “Quamvis non statim suos liberet Deus, arcana tamen virtute tucri eorum salutem.” — Lat. In the first clause of the verse there is a double metaphor. By light is meant joy, or a prosperous issue, (according to a phraseology which is common in Scripture,) as darkness denotes adversity. The latter metaphor of sowing is rather more difficult to understand. 105105     Walford objects to the version light is sown, on the ground that it presents an incongruous combination of figures; and he translates, “light is diffused.” “Who can say,” he remarks, “what is meant by the sowing of light? The diffusion or expansion of light is intelligible, and means that though good men may be in darkness or adversity, light and prosperity will burst through the cloud.” The Septuagint, Vulgate, Arabic, and Æthiopic versions translate, “light is risen for the righteous,” probably reading זרח, zarach, which De Rossi found in one manuscript, instead of זרע, zara Houbigant and others adopt this reading, conceiving it to be more agreeable to the common idea of light. But Muis vindicates the text from Psalm 126:5; and Archbishop Secker thinks “sown” a very proper expression. In support of the same rendering, Merrick, in his Annotations, quotes several passages from the classic Greek authors, in which both light and gladness are said to be sown. Some think that gladness is sown for the just, as seed which, when cast into the ground, dies or lies buried in the earth a considerable time before it germinates. This idea may be a good one; but, perhaps, the simplest meaning of the words is the following, that though the righteous may be almost banished out of the world, and unable to venture themselves forth in public, and hidden from view, God will spread abroad their joy like seed, or bring forth to notice the light of their joy which had been shut up. The second clause of the verse is an exegesis of the first — light being interpreted to mean joy, and the righteous such as are upright in heart This definition of righteousness is worthy of notice, That it does not consist in a mere outward appearance, but comprehends integrity of heart, more being required to constitute us righteous in God’s sight than that we simply keep our tongue, hands, or feet, from wickedness. In the concluding verse he exhorts the Lord’s people to gratitude, that looking upon God as their Redeemer, they should lead a life corresponding to the mercy they have received, and rest contented under all the evils they encounter, with the consciousness that they enjoy his protection.


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