Psalm 97

Psalm 97

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1 The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

2 Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

3 Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.

4 His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.

5 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.

6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.

7 All who worship images are put to shame, those who boast in idols worship him, all you gods!

8 Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, O LORD.

9 For you, O LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11 Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.

12 Rejoice in the LORD, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.

 

As I researched the phase “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” this morning I realized that righteousness and justice have very different meanings to a wide vary of people. The more I researched the more complicated the definitions of righteousness and justice became. Righteousness is simply defined as an attribute that implies one’s actions are justified. It is a term in theology that is used to describe a person who is in a right relationship with God. Justice is simply defined as the concept of moral rightness. However, in my research I quickly came to the realization that the definition of moral rightness is really based upon the person’s view in which you are having a conversation with at the time. Of course, the definition of moral righteousness would change with every conversation. However, the book of the Psalms makes it clear who defines righteousness and that is the LORD.

As we go about the process of living in this world, we seem to have a misunderstanding of the order in which we place your priorities. It is His righteousness that should be the main priority that we seek and not our daily needs. In Matthew 6:33 the Lord states “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you”. As we consider our daily conversations with friends and family the topic of the problems in the daily events in our live usually rise to the surface and can become the major part of the conversation. Yet we must realize that this topic should not really be a concern for the believer. If we seek God’s righteous and justice, then all the things we need will be provided to us. Therefore, our priority in life should be living a blameless life seeking the kingdom of God, and not worrying about tomorrow.

As I look at the opening statement of this psalm it reads “The Lord reigns” I am reminded of the song I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day and recall some of the words of this song that Henry Longfellow wrote during the time of the Civil War:

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

As I look around me with all the wars and evils in this world today, I can see why people can ask “with so much evil how could God be in control?” Yet one hundred and forty-five years ago Henry Longfellow had the answer. His answer “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevails”. The foundation of God’s throne is righteousness and justice. Paul declares this righteousness of God as a righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus Christ. We need never to forget this important fact of God’s righteousness. He did not just forgive our sins because he felt sorry for us; our sins were forgiven because they were atoned by the cross. Oswald Chambers writes about this forgiveness of God in his November 20 devotional:

“Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid. Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive— He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God’s forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm.”

We must not forget that even though the foundation of God’s throne is righteousness that justice had to be satisfied. It took the cross to make our unrighteousness right before God. This cost of this price to God can never be fully understood by us, but we can delight in it and I believe that this delight brings pleasure to God.