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Psalm 97

The Glory of God’s Reign


The L ord is king! Let the earth rejoice;

let the many coastlands be glad!


Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;

righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.


Fire goes before him,

and consumes his adversaries on every side.


His lightnings light up the world;

the earth sees and trembles.


The mountains melt like wax before the L ord,

before the Lord of all the earth.



The heavens proclaim his righteousness;

and all the peoples behold his glory.


All worshipers of images are put to shame,

those who make their boast in worthless idols;

all gods bow down before him.


Zion hears and is glad,

and the towns of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments, O God.


For you, O L ord, are most high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above all gods.



The L ord loves those who hate evil;

he guards the lives of his faithful;

he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.


Light dawns for the righteous,

and joy for the upright in heart.


Rejoice in the L ord, O you righteous,

and give thanks to his holy name!

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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