“The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice;
let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.”
~ Psalm 97:1
The Psalmist begins here with the most wonderful proclamation of Divine truth, “The LORD reigneth.” This is a simple, yet profound truth that should cause the earth to “rejoice,” and the isles, or nations, to “be glad thereof.” He begins his psalm thus, and this magnificent truth is a golden thread woven throughout the whole tapestry of millennial beauty. What grander theme could he take up with? In verse five, he refers to “the Lord of the whole earth.” He declares, “For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all the gods” (Psalm 97:9).
It should be the sincere desire of all His children that indeed the earth would “rejoice,” and the “multitude of isles be glad thereof,” because “the Lord God omnipotent reigneth” (Revelation 19:6). His glory, indeed, is extended over all the earth, for “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people [peoples or nations] see his glory” (Psalm 97:6). His wondrous creation witnesses to His majesty and likewise, we are constrained to “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people” (Psalm 96:3). Are we not His creation as well as the heavens? “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). Then, should not we also “declare his glory?”
Though the different peoples of the earth have many natural things that point them to the Divine Creator, “how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). The witness of the very heavens and earth do not relieve us of our evangelical duty. Millions do not walk now in the light of His glory or rejoice in His mighty power. They do not know God and do not seek after Him. To these, “Clouds and darkness are round about him” (Psalm 97:2). They might say, “Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud” (Lamentations 3:44).
Unknown multitudes are “scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). They wander the earth in enmity against God and what of their awful fate should they continue in this course? The Psalmist says, “A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies round about” (Psalm 97:3). The spiritual condition of perishing, unreached peoples should concern us, for “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols” (Psalm 97:7).
How long shall we continue to cast our “pearls before swine?” How long shall we pray, “O God, send forth laborers, but don’t send me, don’t send my son or my husband?” The Lord said of the Pharisees, “Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte” (Matthew 23:15). However, we can hardly negotiate sidewalk and stoop to declare the glory of God. Let us be even as the prophet Isaiah who said, “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
The glory of God ought to be within us “as a burning fire shut up” in our bones so that we cannot forbear speaking it. Elihu testified of old, “I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me. Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles. I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer” (Job 32:18-20).
This Psalm concludes very personally, “Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalm 97:12). The twelfth verse might be seen as the personal application of the first verse. “Let the earth rejoice,” and “let the multitude of isles be glad thereof.” Also, let us “Rejoice in the LORD.” Praise God! “The LORD reigneth!” Let us seek to promote His glory unto all ends of the earth.