Summary: 1) Let the Earth by Joyful (Psalm 97:1–6). 2) Let the People be Joyful (Psalm 97:7–9). 3) Let the Righteous be Joyful (Psalm 97:10–12).
Santa Claus and his company are no longer at the North Pole! There’s something of an all-points bulletin - or whatever is the polar equivalent - out on the famous Claus household. The whole batch of them, consisting of the familiar Santa, his wife (first name unknown) Mrs. Claus, and the band of elves with whom, apparently, the Clauses (chastely) cohabit, are missing and presumed wet.
Our authority for this is no less than the renowned David Suzuki Foundation, which has sounded the alarm and asked for money to help the great jolly Christmas icon relocate. Its new website, wherewillsantalive.ca, claims that, thanks to global warming, "The North Pole is no longer safe for Santa’s workshop." It also shows Suzuki, done up in elf gear, escorting Santa’s sled as it floats in the waters off the decaying polar ice. (Rex Murphy, National Post • Dec. 3, 2011 http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Give+money+Santa+gets/5806726/story.html)
• Even with such an attempt like this and so many other things that seem to just suck all the joy out of this time of year, the people of God have much to rejoice about.
Psalm 97 continues the anthem of praise that began with Psalms 95 and 96. In the beginning of this series we find the people of Israel making a joyful noise to Yahweh their God, their Rock of salvation. Yet this is no tribal deity whom they would honor, but their Maker, the creator, a great King above all gods. It is one of an “enthronement hymn,” an annual ceremony of rededication to Yahweh as the sovereign Lord of Israel, a type of “reenthronement” ritual. The psalm, however, says far more than this. Yahweh is king (period)! The forces of nature are at his command. He alone is God, “Most High over all the earth … exalted far above all gods” (v. 9). Furthermore, he is a God of righteousness — not capricious and evil as were many of the gods of men’s imaginations. It is clear, however, that Psalm 97 visualizes the reign of the God of glory and of righteousness over all the earth. The whole world, every tribe and nation, are of concern to him and are accountable to him. The righteous can rejoice over the reign of God.
1) Let the Earth by Joyful (Psalm 97:1–6)
Psalm 97:1-6 [97:1]The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around. His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
The simple statement in verse one that "The LORD reigns", which is a statement of fact (see also 93:1; 96:10; 99:1; 1 Chr 16:31) God’s “reign” here means his sovereignty.
He has absolute authority and rule over his creation, and it is an attribute of deity without which God could not be God. Sovereignty involves other attributes too. In order to be sovereign, God must also be all-knowing, and all-powerful. If he were limited in any one of these areas, he would not be completely sovereign. If he did not know what was going on, he would be constantly taken by surprise. If he were not omnipotent, he would not be able to control events. Yet the sovereignty of God is greater than any of the attributes it contains. A little thought will show why this is so. We might think of love as being a greater attribute than sovereignty. But if God were not sovereign, he might love but circumstances would arise to thwart his love, making it useless to us. It is the same with matters involving justice. If God were not sovereign, justice would be frustrated and injustice would prevail. This means that God’s rule gives substance to all the other doctrines. (Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms (Pbk. ed.) (789–790). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.).