Imagine a world that is out of control: wars, drought, poverty, inequities and divisions among people, hateful rhetoric based on scriptural interpretation. Where is God?
In 587 B.C.E., the Hebrew people found themselves far away from the land of Israel and Judah. They were captives in Babylon. Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians. There was no hope for God's People, only despair. What had happened to the role they and Jerusalem and the Davidic kingship were supposed to play in God's plan? Where is God?
The Psalm we have before us today came out of the Exile Period in Babylon. In the midst of all the despair, the writer proclaims:
a. The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad (v. 1)
b. The Lord consumes his foes on every side (v. 3)
c. The Lord guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked (v. 10)
d. Therefore, rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name.
Psalm 97 is a reminder to us who live in a world that seems exiled from God. God reigns. Rejoice in the Lord!
Psalm 97 (NRSV)
1 The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side.
4 His lightnings light 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 behold his glory.
7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols; all gods bow down before him.
8 Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O God.
9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 The Lord loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!