Psalm 97#sn Psalm 97. The psalmist depicts the Lord as the sovereign, just king of the world who comes in power to vindicate his people.
1 The Lord reigns!
Let the earth be happy!
Let the many coastlands rejoice!
2 Dark clouds surround him;
equity and justice are the foundation of his throne.#sn The Lord’s throne symbolizes his kingship.
3 Fire goes before him;
on every side#tn Heb “all around.” it burns up his enemies.
4 His lightning bolts light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The sky declares his justice,
and all the nations see his splendor.
7 All who worship idols are ashamed,
those who boast about worthless idols.
All the gods bow down before him.#tn The translation assumes that the prefixed verbal form in the first line is an imperfect (“are ashamed”) and that the ambiguous form in the third line is a perfect (“bow down”) because the psalmist appears to be describing the effect of the Lord’s mighty theophany on those who witness it (see vv. 5, 8). Another option is to take the prefixed form in the first line as a jussive (“let all who worship idols be ashamed”) and the ambiguous form in the third line as an imperative (“All you gods, bow down before him!”; cf. NIV).
8 Zion hears and rejoices,
the towns#tn Heb “daughters.” The term “daughters” refers to the cities of Judah surrounding Zion (see Ps 48:11 and H. Haag, TDOT 2:336). of Judah are happy,
because of your judgments, O Lord.
9 For you, O Lord, are the sovereign king#tn Traditionally “Most High.” over the whole earth;
you are elevated high above all gods.
10 You who love the Lord, hate evil!
He protects#tn The participle may be verbal, though it might also be understood as substantival and appositional to “the Lord.” In this case one could translate, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord, the one who protects the lives…and delivers them.” the lives of his faithful followers;
he delivers them from the power#tn Heb “hand.” of the wicked.
11 The godly bask in the light;
the morally upright experience joy.#tn Heb “Light is planted for the godly, and for the upright of heart joy.” The translation assumes an emendation of זָרַע (zara’, “planted”) to זָרַח (zara’, “shines”) which collocates more naturally with “light.” “Light” here symbolizes the joy (note the following line) that accompanies deliverance and the outpouring of divine favor.
12 You godly ones, rejoice in the Lord!
Give thanks to his holy name.#tn Heb “to his holy remembrance.” The Hebrew noun זָכַר (zakhar, “remembrance”) here refers to the name of the Lord as invoked in liturgy and praise. Cf. Pss 6:5; 30:4. The Lord’s “name” is “holy” in the sense that it is a reminder of his uniqueness and greatness.