Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O LORD.
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
O you who love the LORD, hate evil!
He preserves the lives of his saints;
he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown[a] for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name! Psalm 97:8-12
No matter who you are, isn’t it hard to be patient? Especially the patience of a righteous person witnessing unrighteousness that seems to go on and on and on. Justice withheld, the weak abused, people victimized, not only by the criminal but by those in authority as well. No justice…suddenly, there is a glimmer of hope! You see on the news a crime that was stopped, peace was restored, justice was meted out, the guilty were held to account. You feel a sense of relief; a sense of joy.
This is what is being represented in today’s Psalm—a judgement over the spirits of the gods who have been wreaking havoc among the people and on those who have wholeheartedly placed their faith and trust in those gods and their images. God finally brings judgement upon the earth. As it says in 97:8, “Zion hears and is glad and the daughters of Judah rejoice” meaning the people of Jerusalem and Judea, God’s elect who have been praying for this day, wept for this day, been persecuted for not going along with the crowd, faithfully persevered in their worship of the one true God of Israel who is “exalted far above all gods.”
This Psalm is a timely reminder in these ever-darkening times of evil in our own culture as we continue to turn our collective backs on God and turn to images of our own creation. We’re reminded “O you who love the LORD, hate evil!” (97:10a) This is not a time to look to the world around us and fall to the mantra of the spirits of the gods who proclaim tolerance, tolerance. It is a time to remember there are issues, lifestyles, and activities that God has clearly forbidden, that He calls evil, and we are to hate! For this, believers may be cancelled, censored, boycotted, themselves called evil, mocked, ridiculed, persecuted.
However, we can take heart as the Psalm continues, “He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” (97:10b) We now know what the Psalmist wasn’t fully aware of, but only saw as a glimmer of hope in a prophetic future: that the “Light” sown is the Light and the Glory of Jesus Christ our Savior. He is sown for the righteous, and the “joy” is a result of receiving His Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) for the upright in heart. We, with fullness of faith, “Rejoice in the LORD…and give thanks to his holy name!” (Psalm 97:12) What name? The name Jesus Christ, of whom it is said, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Prayer for Today: O LORD, may we have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to perceive what You have in store for us…both for today, and eternally, in and through Jesus Christ our Savior. Let us have faith today to look beyond our current circumstances and the things of this world, trusting in You for true righteousness, justice, and eternal peace in Christ Jesus our LORD. Amen.