Psalm 97 (NRSV)
Verse 1The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Verse 2Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Verse 3Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side.
Verse 4His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
Verse 5The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.
Verse 6The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.
Verse 7All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols; all gods bow down before him.
Verse 8Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O God.
Verse 9For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
Verse 10The Lord loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Verse 11Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
Verse 12Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
In Psalm 97, in a common Hebrew poetic device, the 42 Hebrew words of verses 1-6—calling the whole earth and the heavens to rejoice in the Lord as King—are balanced with the 43 words of verses 8-12—focused on Israel’s rejoicing in God’s reign of righteousness and justice. Verse 7 in between sounds a negative counterpoint about idol worship.
But how can we see rejoicing and gladness, righteousness and justice, through the clouds and darkness of war’s explosions? Since Ash Wednesday’s beginning of the exodus of millions of refugees out of Ukraine I’ve been wondering where they found Polish churches to receive their mark of the cross in ashes on their brow, or palm branches or sacramental bread and wine, or seven last words from the cross, or anything “everlasting” on Easter?
When we pray ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth (vs 1) as in heaven” (vs 6), may God be present with all, ruling in our hearts and in all the world!
O Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, bring your gentle rule into our hearts that we may love peace and do justice as we walk humbly with our God! Amen.