April 29: Psalm 97

April 29: Psalm 97

The Lord God reigns over all

Common meter 86.86             St. Anne (O God, Our Help in Ages Past), p. 39

Jehovah reigns; let earth be glad; let isles their joy make known;

Dark clouds surround Him, righteousness and justice are His throne.

Fire goes before Him, and consumes all his foes round about;

His lightnings light up all the world; earth sees and shakes throughout.

Before the Lord the mountains melt as wax before a flame,

Before the Lord of all the earth as near His presence came.

The heav’ns declare His righteousness; all men His glory see.

All serving graven images confused and shamed shall be.

They who of idols boast are shamed; ye gods your worship bring.

When Zion hears this, she is glad, and Judah’s daughters sing,

Because of all Thy judgments, Lord. Thou art the Lord Most High

Above all earth, above all gods, exalted very high.

Hate evil, all who love the Lord; He keeps His saints secure,

And from the hand of wicked men He gives deliv’rance sure.

Upon the righteous light is sown, and true hearts gladness claim.

Ye righteous, in the Lord rejoice, and thank His holy name.

Psalm 97 is preoccupied with the presence of God in our midst: “Fire will go before Him…The mountains melted like wax from before the face of the Lord; from before the face of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declared His justice, and all peoples have seen His glory.” The threatening brightness of God’s presence puts one in mind of John’s inaugural vision of Christ at the beginning of Revelation. One will also be reminded of the bright cloud of the Lord’s Transfiguration on the mountain by a line of this psalm: “Clouds and darkness are round about Him.” God’s appearance in this world, says our psalm, is the source of joy for those who wait for Him in purity of life: “Hate evil, you who love the Lord, who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown like seed for the righteous, and gladness for those upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones, and give thanks to His holy name.” (Reardon, p. 191-192)

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