“The LORD reigns; Let the earth rejoice; Let the multitude of isles be glad!” Psalm 97:1 (NKJ)
Advent has begun. It is a time for personal reflection and spiritual awakening as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. Choirs and orchestras are tailoring special worship music to commemorate the glorious day when God the Son condescended and entered into historical existence. It is a time for high praise and worship. We offer the 97th Psalm to usher in this special season.
The 97th Psalm belongs to a group of psalms (93-100) that affirm Yahweh’s kingship and His rule over the earth. He both delivers and He judges. It is in His great power and His “ineffable” love that He sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). The opening verse begins with what every believer should understand as a foregone conclusion—“the LORD reigns!”
The awareness of God’s sovereignty results in an appropriate response—“Be glad!”
The believer’s gladness if not tied to a specific outcome, but to realization of the fact that God works all things for His glory and our good (Rom. 8:28). During acts of personal rebellion and disobedience, He makes all things good (Is. 44:24). When we are faithless, He still proves faithful (2 Tim 2:13). When our strength fails, He renews our strength (Is. 40:31). His sovereignty extended from eternity through time, in that when we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive in Christ (Ep. 2:5). God is able to “keep us” until Christ’s returns (Jude 1:24). And nothing can separate us from His love (Rom 8:39).
As important as the fact of God’s sovereign reign, are the effects His returning reign has on believers today. Psalm 97 closes with this exhortation.
“You who love the LORD, hate evil! He preserves the souls of His saints; He delivers them out of the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, And gladness for the upright in heart. Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.” (vv. 10-12)
Believers are to love the Lord and look forward to His “glorious appearing.” They are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts; they are to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11-13). They need not fear the day of the Lord’s appearance, because He has protected them from the wicked (Is. 54:17). The godly will enjoy the benefits of the rule of God: “light and gladness”. Light signifies the blessed state of redemption and victory (Isa. 60:1-3). This is cause for thankful praise. The invitation to rejoice anticipates the Lord’s coming with His blessings. Believers already experience many evidences of His kingship here on earth but eagerly await the fullness of his kingdom.
As you begin your Advent preparation, remember to include joyful praise for the fact that God fully reigns over all things—places, people, and circumstances. We need not wait to begin our jubilant celebration. We can begin today!
SELAH: Create a psalm of praise and glory in celebration of Advent 2017 and in anticipation of Jesus’ glorious appearance in the future.