Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Exegesis on Psalm 97:1-6.



Subject : Psalms in Hebrew

Topic : Exegesis on Psalm 97:1-6.

Submitted to : Mrs Laila L.Vijayan

Submitted by : Mr.Sanda Aung

Submitted on : 5th August, 2008.

PSALMS 97:1-6.



This Psalm has a hymnal form[1] and it belongs to the form-critical category of hymns of descriptive praise of Yahweh. Since the work of Gunkel and Mowinkel, this type of psalms have commonly been called the enthronement psalms, celeberating the kingship of Yahweh and frequently associated with the proposed enthronement ceremonies in the pre-exilic Temple in Jerusalem. According to Westernman these Psalms are hymns celebrating Yahweh’s kingship and belongs to the category of descriptive praise psalms[2]

1.2. Structure

Howard proposes that there seems to be a temporal distinction between the continued description of Yahweh in vv.1-3 and the theophany described in vv.4-6.[3] And according to Frank E.Gaebelein, this section of Psalm focuses on the exalted position of Yahweh above the earth and all the other gods and contains many allusion tom other parts of OT, all of which have been shaped into a magnificent hymn. So the structure of this psalm is as follows:

The revelation of Yahweh’s glory (vv.1-6)

a. The coming of the Lord is described (1-3).

b. Its effect upon the earth is declared (4-6)[4].

1.3. Setting

The setting of this psalm is worship for the kingship of Yahweh. This psalm is made of almost entirely of phrases borrowed from other psalms, but put together with great skill and also has hymnist form, setting forth descriptive praise of Yahweh and belong to a group of psalms (Ps 93-100) united in genre and motif[5].

2. Authorship and Date.

Scholars believe that David is not the sole author of the Book of psalms. As in the first book of Samuel hymns are ascribed to David so also at the close of Deuteronomy two psalms are ascribed to Moses. It was this and the occurrence of the name of Moses near the end of Psalm 99 which led to ascription of Psalms 90-99,which have also certain literary kinship with the psalms in Deuteronomy, to Moses. So the author of psalm 97:1-6 was probably Moses.[6]

Howard said that Psalm 97 is likely pre-Exilic, but not too early. So he thought again, it best work with the flowing hypotheses: (1)the dates of origin for psalms 95 and 96-99 as individual Psalms are possibly pre-Exilic, but more probably post-Exilic in their present form; (2)the cult situation of Psalms 93-99 in the Psalter are mostly post-Exilic, so this psalm was composed in pre-Exilic period.[7]

3.Comment/Interpretation and Explanation

3. The revelation of Yahweh’s glory (vv.1-6).

3. A. The coming of the Lord is described (1-3)
Verse 1
The Lord reigneth”: This is the watchword of the psalm. It is also the essence of the Gospel’s proclamationand the foundation of the Gospel’s kingdom. Jesus has come, and all power is given unto Him in heaven and earth, therefore men are bidden to yield him their obedient faith, saint draw comfort from these words, and only rebel evil at them.

“Let the earth rejoice”: Other reigns have produced injustice, oppression, bloodshed, terror but the reign of infinitely gracious Jehovah is the hope of humankind, and when they all yield to it the race will have its paradise restored. The very globe itself may well be glad that its maker and liege Lord has come to his own, and the whole race of human beings may also be glad[8].

Let the Multitude of isle glad thereof”: To the ancient Israelites all places beyond the sea were isle, and the phrase is equivalent to the lands which are reached by ship. It is remarkable, however, that upon actual islands some of the greatest victories of the cross have been achieved. Many a land owes its peace to the sea; if it had not been isolated it would have been desolated, and therefore the inhabitants should praise the lord who has given them a defense more available than bars of brass. Jesus deserves to be Lord of isles, and to have his praises sounded along every sea-beaten shore[9].
Verse 2.
“Clouds and darkness are round about him”: When the Lord revealed himself at Sinai, his essential deity was being surrounded by clouds when he showed himself to sons of men less his excessive glory would destroy them. Every revelation of God must also be an obviation; there must be veiling of his infinite splendor if anything is to be seen by finite beings.

Righteousness and judgment are the habitations of his throne”: God’s righteousness, immutable attributes and judgment mark his every act. Whatever he does, though we cannot see or understand, we are sure that he will do no wrong to us. We are always saved in the hands of him who cannot do error or act of unrighteousness.[10]

Verse 3.
A fire goeth before him”: Fire is the very being of God’s power consuming all opposition. Omnipotence is a devouring flame “which burnt up his enemies around about”. Lord is long suffering, but when he comes forth to judgment he will make short work with the unrighteous, they will be like chaff before the flame. Reading this verse in reference to the coming of Jesus, and the descent of the Holy Spirit, we are reminded of the tongues of fire, and of the power which attended the gospel preached in faith, and in the power of the Spirit, which burns it own way, irrestibly destroying falsehood, superstition, unbelief, sin, indifference, and hardness of the heart.[11]

3. B. Its effect upon the earth is declared (4-6)
“His lightning unlighted the world”
. In time of tempest the whole of nature is lighted up with a lurid glare, even the light of the sun itself seems dim compared with the blaze of lightening. When God draws aside the curtain for a moment, the nation astonished, the light compels them to cover their eyes and bow their heads in solemn awe. Jesus in the gospels lights up the earth with such a blaze of truth and grace as was never seen or even imagined before.[12]

The earth saw, and trembled”. In God’s presence the solid earth quarks, astonished by his glory and convulsed with fear. To the advent of our lord and the setting up of his kingdom among human beings these words are also most applicable; nothing ever caused such a shaking and the commotion as the proclamation of the Gospels, nothing was more majestic than its course, it turned the world upside down, leveled the mountains and filled up the velleys.When the Holy Ghost rested upon his servants their course was like that of a mighty storm, the truth, flashed with the force and speed of thunderbolt, and philosophers and priests, princes and people were utterly confounded, too powerless to withstand it.[13]

Verse 5.
The hill melted like wax at the presence of the lord”: States and kingdoms stand out upon the world like mountains utterly dissolved when God decrees their end. Systems as ancient and firmly-rooted as the hills pass away when he does but looks upon them. The mountains, which are a symbol of stability (cf M.T. 30: 8), melt before the presence of the lord[14].

“At the presence of the lord of the whole earth”: God’s dominion is universal, and his power is everywhere felt. Human beings cannot move the hill, with difficulty do they climb them, with incredible toil do they pierce their way through their fastness, but it is not so with the Lord: his presence makes a clear pathway, obstacles disappear, a highway is made, and that not by his hand as though it cost him pains, but by his mere presence, for power goes forth from him with a word or a glance. Sometimes we doubt the presence of the Lord within, for he is concealed with clouds, but we are again assured that he is within us when his light shines in and fills us with holy fear, while at the same time the warmth of grace often calls us to penitence, resignation and obedience, as wax becomes soft in the presence of fire.[15]

Verse 6.
“The heavens declare his righteousness”: It is the manner of the inspired poets to picture the whole creation as in sympathy with the glory of God, and indeed it is not mere poetry, for a great truth underlines it. The whole creation has been made to groan through human’s sin, and it is yet to share in the joy of his restoration. His righteousness (Ps 33:5) is, apparently, parallel with glory (Ps.19:1), and both may refer to Yahweh’s work of salvation (cf Ps 50:6). [16]

And all the people see his glory”. The glorious Gospel became so well known and widely promulgated, that it seem to be proclaimed by very star, and published by the very skies themselves, therefore all race of human beings became acquainted with it, and were made to see the exceeding glory of the grace of God which is resplendent there in.[17] Yahweh victory will be made manifested not only to the people of Israel, but also to the whole world (Ps66:8).[18]

4. Theological theme

The Lord is represented as a king who has authority to control all the creatures and universal as well as there would be peace, justice among the nations during his reign.

5. Implications for today context

The Lord was presented as a king and the ruler with mighty power. The prince of the world has been cast out by the same Lord. In the scripture the word “earth” probably denotes the land of Israel, unless it is changed in meaning by qualification. For it was to them alone that Christ was promised and to whom He came. Therefore Jews saw these wonders and were struck in their hearts according to Acts 2.[19]

Every saving advent of God in the past and future is summed up in this stylized picture of divine intervention, in which God proves Himself victorious king over evil.[20]So this psalm reminds us that Israel’s hope was God’ reign, who could make peace and justice reign among the nations as well as in our time.


Anderson, A.A.The New Century Bible Commentary Psalm(73-150),vol.II.London:Marshall,Morgan& Scolt Publication.Ltd.,1970

Gaebelein,Frank E.Eds The Expositor’s Bible Comemtary,vol.5, .Machigcan:Zondervan Publish House nd,1991.

Peter,John P. The psalms as Liturgies Being the Paddock Lectures for 1920.New York: Ferris Printing company, 1920.

Ricker ,George Berry.An American Commentary on the Old Testament ;The book of Psalms.Boston:The American Baptist Publication Socity,1934.

Spurgeon, C.H. The treasury of David ,Vol.II.Virginiaa:Thomas Nelson Pusblisher,1993.


Luther works, vol.II. First Lectures on the Psalms II.,Edited by Hiton C.Oswld.Missuri:Concordia Publication House,1976.

The “Psalm”. The International Bible commentary.Edited by F.F.Bruce.Michigan:Zondervan Publishing House,1987.

[1] A.A Anderson,The New Century Bible Commentary Psalm(73-150),vol.II(London:Marshall,Morgan& Scolt Publication.Ltd.,1970),687-688.

[2] Frank E.Gaebelein,edsThe expositor’s Bible Comemtary,vol.5, (Machigcan:Zondervan Publish House nd,1991)623.

[3] A.A.Anderson,op.cit.,687.

[4] Frank E.Gaebelein,op.,cit.,623.

[5] .Ibid.,624.

[6] .John P.peter .The psalms as Liturgies Being the Paddock Lectures for 1920(New York: Ferris Printing company, 1920), 11.

[7] George Berry,, Ricker,An American Commentary on the Old Testament ;The book of Psalms(Boston:The American Baptist Publication Socity,1934),634.

[8] C.H.Spurgeon,The treasury of David ,Vol.II(Virginiaa:Thomas Nelson Pusblisher,1993),193.

[9] Ibid.,194.

[10] Ibid., 195.

[11] Ibid., 194.

[12] Ibid.,195.

[13] .Ibid.,195.

[14] A.A Anderson.op.cit,687.

[15]C.H.Spurgeon, op.cit, 196.

[16] A.A Anderson.op.cit, 687.

[17] C.H.Spurgeon, op.cit, 197.

[18] A.A Anderson.op.cit, 687.

[19] Luther works,vol.II, First Lectures on the Psalms II,edited by Hiton C.Oswld(Missuri:Concordia Publication House,1976),265.

[20] .The “Psalms”,The International Bible commentary, edited by F.F.Bruce(Michigan:Zondervan Publishing House,1987),623.

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