During the Age of Enlightenment, many philosophers adopted a false worldview known as deism, which viewed God as a distant “watchmaker” who wound up the universe, set it in motion, and then stepped away from it. Those who held this view saw God as uninvolved and distant from His creation. From a Biblical worldview, we understand that deism is false and that God is actively involved in His creation.
Psalm 97 reminds us of the truth that “the LORD reigneth” (v. 1a). This is a proclamation to the entire world that God is in charge. He is not a powerless idol nor is He a passive “watchmaker” who wound up the world and stepped away. He is the God of the universe who is all-powerful and all-knowing and intimately involved in the affairs of man. He plans, He acts, and He rules according to His perfect will. Our reaction to this should cause us to “rejoice” and “be glad” (v. 1b). During a time of worldwide panic, our hearts can find refuge in the truth that God reigns! We can be glad and we can rejoice as we know that God has a perfect plan in all that is happening around us.
Earth can rejoice at the reign of God. God’s reign is not like that of an earthly despot whose kingdom is founded on bribery, deceit, or manipulation. Rather, God’s reign is founded on “…righteousness and judgment…” (v. 2). “Jehovah is an autocrat, but not a despot. Absolute power is safe in the hands of him who cannot err, or act unrighteously” (C.H. Spurgeon). Why should we fear our circumstances when we serve a God who cannot err or do wrong? God has given us a reason to rejoice! He is “…high above all the earth…” and “…exalted far above all gods” (v. 9).
As we rejoice in the righteous and just reign of God over the universe, we must make sure that our hearts are in line with the values of God. Verse 10 reminds us of our response- “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil…” There are different ways that we can respond to the evil around us. We can defend it or promote it. However, it is unlikely that a genuine Christian would do that. The pitfall for the Christian is usually not the promotion of evil but either the ignoring of evil or the enduring of evil. God’s Word tells us that our response to evil is to hate it and oppose it. When our love for God is real, we will learn to love the things He loves and hate the things He hates. If we are on God’s side, we cannot be neutral about the evil in the world. We must oppose and hate it. God will give us the strength we need to take a stand against evil. The Bible says, “…He preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked” (v. 10).