Psalm 97

97:0Bible students think that whoever wrote Psalm 96 also wrote Psalm 97. But Psalm 96 remembers what God has done. Psalm 97 looks to the future. It says (or prophesies) what God will do. Psalm 96 remembers that God brought his people home from a foreign country. He did this because he was a powerful king. Psalm 96:2 says ‘God has made us safe.’ Psalm 97 is another royal psalm. ‘Royal’ means ‘as a king.’ Psalm 97 tells us what will happen when everybody sees that God is king. That is why some Bible students say that this is a psalm about the end of the world.

Lord of Far-Away People (The fourth royal psalm)

1 The LORD is king! Everyone on earth will be very happy!

Even all the people on far-away islands will be very happy!

97:1In verses 1, 8, 11 and 12 we read the word ‘happy.’ A better word is ‘joyful’ or ‘full of joy.’ It is a good feeling deep down inside us. Nobody can take it away, because God put it there.

2 Clouds and black skies are all round the LORD.

He is a good and fair ruler.

3 Fire goes in front of him.

It burns up his enemies on every side.

4 His lightning is a light over the whole world.

The earth sees it and is afraid.

5 The mountains melt as butter in front of the LORD,

in front of the master of the whole world.

6 The skies tell us that he is righteous

and people from every country will see his glory.

97:6Verse 6 tells us that the skies say that God is righteous and glorious. (‘Glorious’ means ‘has a lot of glory.’) We can also translate the word ‘skies’ as ‘heavens.’ Heaven is the home of God. We do not know where it is. But when we see it, we will see that God is righteous and glorious. In some strange way, even seeing a storm tells us that God is righteous and glorious.

7 All the servants of images of gods will be ashamed.

Also, all those that say that idols are great will be ashamed!

Because even the gods will fall down in front of the LORD.

8 Zion will hear about it and be happy.

The people of Judah will be very happy!

This will be because of what you decide to do, LORD.

9 Because you, LORD, are the Most High God over all the earth.

You are much more important than any other god!

97:9Verses 7-9 are about other ‘gods.’ Countries all round Judah had their own gods. Often they made gods out of wood or stone. We call these ‘images’ or ‘idols.’ The Hebrew word ‘idols’ really means ‘nothings.’ Hebrew was the language that they spoke in Judah. Their word for idols tells us that the idols were false gods. They were not gods at all, because there is only one God! They were (and still are) ‘nothings!’ When God appears, everyone will know that there are no other gods. These gods will all fall down in front of the God that really lives. Everyone will see that the false gods are dead nothings. The LORD God is more important than any other god because he is alive and they are dead. The LORD God is the Most High God. The ‘Most High’ is another name for God. It means that he is more important than anyone else. Zion, in verse 8, was the capital city of Judah. It was another name for Jerusalem.

10 If you love the LORD, then hate what bad people do!

The LORD makes safe the lives of his people.

He will make them free from the hands of bad people.

11 Light will shine on righteous people

and honest people will be very happy.

12 Everyone that is righteous, you be happy with the LORD!

And say ‘thanks’ to his holy name.

97:12The psalm ends with promises to God's people. God's people must hate (or not like) what bad people do. But the LORD will make his people safe and free, (verse 10). This will happen when the LORD God appears on earth. But it often happens now for his people. It is certain that it is true when they die. They will be safe and free with God in heaven. ‘The hands of bad people’ means ‘what bad people do to them with their hands.’ Bible students are not certain what ‘light will shine’ in verse 11 means. The Hebrew word translated ‘shine’ really means ‘become planted!’ Perhaps God sows (or plants) seeds of light in us, so that we will shine also! We will have a part of God's glory if we love and serve (work for) him. Paul tells us that in Romans 8:30. So, we must say ‘thanks’ to his holy name, (verse 12). ‘Holy’ means all good with no bad in it, separate from sin.