The United States is deeply divided politically. One reason is that many people look to political victories as their primary source of hope for the nation. When their party wins an election, they are elated. When their candidate of choice is defeated, they fall into despair.
Today’s reading provides us with the good news that it is not a human person who will ultimately decide our future. The good news is that “the Lord reigns” (97:1)! While humans act like they are in control, Psalm 97 reminds us that God created the universe and it directs us to worship Him alone (v. 6).
We must also name and denounce the idols that compete for our loyalty and allegiance (v. 7). God will not have a rival. For Israel this meant avoiding the worship of Baal and Asherah, the gods of the culture around them. While most people in Western culture today are not tempted to bow down to a literal idol, we often live as if power, money, fame, or material possessions are the most important things in life. No one should be able to worship God with full-throated praise and cling to idols at the same time.
The kind of praise modeled for us in Psalm 97 is humbling. It puts us in our place and reminds us that we are not God. Rather, we owe our allegiance to God alone. When we embrace that truth, we can rejoice in His faithful rule in the present even as we wait for His ultimate rule to be established in the new heavens and new earth (98:9). Recognizing the fact that God reigns should lead us to rejoice (97:8). We can rejoice because we know that God is gracious and just.
>> What idols are competing for your attention? In what things do you place your hope? Spend time today rereading this psalm and acknowledging God as the ruler of everything in your life. Rejoice that our God reigns!