12 May 2013

Psalm 97

“The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!” (v. 1)

Background: God is ...

What better way is there to demonstrate the majestic wonder of Creator God better than by using creation itself? The author of today's Psalm uses strong and contrasting images of nature, almost tangible metaphors and vivid similes, and sweeps the reader along on this journey of describing the glory of God. Clearly, this is not an easy thing to do, but definitely something to get excited about.

Coastlands are described as glad, while clouds (verse 2) are noted for creating just enough darkness to contrast the lightening. Melting mountains (verse 5), proclaiming heavens (verse 6) and rejoicing towns (verse 8) are mentioned like check-points, painting the picture of creation itself adoring the God of creation. These active and contrasting images are not found on an ordinance survey map or in weather reports, nor are they referred to by the-polite-but-friendly satellite navigation system found in most modern vehicles. They are however the images that the psalmist uses in an attempt to show us how amazing God is in 12 short verses.

This Psalm is attributed to David, written to be sung with jubilation and celebration when the Ark of God had finally been brought back to Israel, and to the place that had specially prepared for it. The Psalm is not filled with admiration of the detailed and skilful craftsmanship of the Ark, nor does it gush with the hushed tones and reverent kind of language often describing historic artefacts. Instead, using the Ark as a reference point, the Psalm serves a reminder - then and now - of the unparalleled powerful and presence of God. For David and the nation of Israel, the Ark was a reminder of the God's unchanging promises, and according to today's Psalm, it was a reminder to their enemies too!

After a time of difficulty and seeming defeat, it was both uplifting and heartening to be reminded that God is above all.

(Click here to read notes on the Gospel passage John 17:20-26.)

To Ponder

  • How does nature remind you of the presence of God?
  • What metaphors or similes would you use to describe God's power?
  • What can you rejoice and give God thanks for today?

Bible notes author

The Revd Katei Kirby

The Revd Katei Kirby is currently heading up the Belonging Together project in the Connexional Team. This initiative celebrates the Methodist Church's ethnic diversity, and seeks to embed this at all levels of the Church's life and ministry of the Church.