Verse 12. "Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous " - It is your privilege to be happy. Exult in him through whom ye have received the atonement.
Rejoice; but let it be in the Lord. All other joy is the mirth of fools, which is as the crackling of thorns under a pot-it is a luminous blaze for a moment, and leaves nothing but smoke and ashes behind.
"At the remembrance of his holiness. " - But why should you give thanks at the remembrance that God is holy? Because he has said, Be ye holy; for I am holy: and in holiness alone true happiness is to be found. As he, therefore, who hath called you is holy; so be ye holy in all manner of conversation. False Christians hate the doctrine of Christian holiness; they are willing to be holy in another, but not holy in themselves. There is too much cross-bearing and self-denial in the doctrine of holiness for them. A perfect heart they neither expect nor wish.
The analysis considers the whole Psalm as relating to Jesus Christ and the last judgment: so it was understood by several of the ancient fathers. The reader may take it in either sense.
ANALYSIS OF THE NINETY-SEVENTH PSALM
There are three parts in this Psalm, if we interpret it as referring to our blessed Lord: - I. A prophetical description of his power and glory, especially at the day of judgment, ver. 1-6.
II. A manifest difference between the states of idolaters and the people of God, ver. 7-9.
III. An exhortation to love God and hate evil; and the reason on which it is founded: a two-fold gracious reward, ver. 10- 12.
I. The psalmist begins with a solemn acclamation: "The Lord reigneth." He is the supreme King; and he will use his kingly power both now and in the day of judgment. 1. For the good of his subjects. 2. For the confusion of his enemies.
1. For "clouds and darkness are round about him," as when he gave the law on Mount Sinai. 2. "Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne;" and therefore a just sentence shall come forth against his enemies, and in behalf of his friends, ver. 2-5. 3. His appearance shall be very glorious; for the "heavens shall declare it, and all people shall see it," ver. 6.
II. The difference between the state of idolaters and the people of God.
1. Confusion and a curse shall fall upon the former: "They shall be confounded," &c., ver. 7.
2. He exhorts all in power, men-magistrates, &c., and all who excel in strength-angels, to worship him: "Worship him, all ye gods," ver. 7.
All confidence should be reposed in him.
3. God's people rejoice when they find that it is their own Lord who is coming to judgment: "Zion heard, and was glad; the daughters of Judah rejoiced," ver. 8.
4. And they rejoiced chiefly in knowing that their God "was high above all the earth, and exalted far above all gods," ver. 9.
III. The expostulation, which gives us the character by which God's people may be known. He exhorts them to love God, and to hate evil.
Hence we see that the true followers of God, 1. Love him; 2. Haste evil, as the infallible consequence of loving him, ver. 10.
He shows them the gracious reward which God promises.
1. "He preserveth the souls of his saints." Often their lives, in an especial manner, are preserved by him; but always their souls. The accuser of the brethren shall not hurt them.
2. "He delivereth them out of the hands of the wicked." Sometimes out of their hand, that they fall not into it; and sometimes out of their hand, when they are in it. This is their first reward, ver. 10.
A second reward is in the next verse: that in their miseries they shall be filled with spiritual happiness, when perhaps they little expect it: "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart," ver. 11.
1. By light we may understand a peculiar manifestation of God's favour; comfort, peace, and joy; or deliverance from their spiritual and temporal oppressors.
2. This is sown as a seed. For the light of comfort, of peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Spirit, though it may be clouded in times of heaviness, through manifold temptations, yet it will spring forth again, like the corn, which, after it is sown, lies hidden for some time, under the clods of the earth; yet all that time it is vegetating and coming forth to public view. And deliverance from their enemies, though slow, will come; though the rod of the wicked come into the lot of the just, it shall not rest there.
3. From these premises the psalmist draws this conclusion: Since God is preparing those blessings for you that fear and love him, then, 1.
"Rejoice in the Lord;" glory in him as the Fountain of your blessedness. 2. "Give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness." Remember the good he has done you, the grace he has bestowed on you, and the holiness you may yet receive from him; and rejoice in the encouragement, and give thanks. Rejoice that ye may be holy, for in that your happiness consists.