for he cometh, for he cometh; which is repeated to show the certainty of Christ's coming, and the importance of it, and the just reason there was for the above joy and gladness on account of it; and it may be also, as Jerom and others have observed, to point out both the first and second coming of Christ, which are both matter of joy to the saints: his first coming, which was from heaven into this world, in a very mean and abject manner, to save the chief of sinners, to procure peace, pardon, righteousness, and eternal life for them, and therefore must be matter of joy: his second coming, which will be also from heaven, but in an extremely glorious manner, without sin, or the likeness of it, unto the salvation of is people: it will be as follows,
to judge the earth; the inhabitants of it, small and great, high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, quick and dead, righteous and wicked; when all works, words, and thoughts, good and bad, will be brought to account; and every man will be judged, as those shall be, with or without the grace of God:
he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth; according to the rules of justice and equity; he will truly discern and rightly judge; his judgment will be according to his truth; he will approve himself to be the righteous Judge, and his judgment will appear to be a righteous judgment; for which he is abundantly qualified, as being the Lord God omniscient and omnipotent, holy, just, and true; see Acts 17:31.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 97
This psalm is ascribed to David by the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions. It is of the same argument, and upon the same subject, as the preceding, the coming and kingdom of Christ; and that it respects his first coming into the world, when angels were called upon to worship him, appears from Psalm 97:7 compared with Hebrews 1:6 though it is expressed in such language as seems to agree with his second coming; and, perhaps, both are included, with various things between the one and the other; or it respects the kingdom of Christ, from his first to his second coming; to which agrees the inscription of the Syriac version, which is
"a Psalm of David, in which he prophesies concerning the coming of the Messiah, and again he intimates in it his last appearance.''.
let the earth rejoice: not the land of Judea only, and the inhabitants of it, to whom the King Messiah came; for there were but few among them that received him, and rejoiced at his coming; but the whole earth, the vast continent, as distinguished from the isles after mentioned, and they that dwell upon it; the Gentiles, who had a concern in his coming, in whom they were to be blessed, to whom they were to be gathered, and in whom they should find a glorious rest; and therefore he is called
the desire of all nations: the first preaching of the Gospel was occasion and matter of great joy to them; not only the blessings contained in it of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ; but the effects of it, delivering them from the dominion of Satan, the god of this world; and from superstition, and idolatry, with which they were enslaved; and the bringing them into the glorious liberty of the children of God:
let the multitude of isles be glad thereof; the isles of the sea are many, even many thousands: Columbus, when he first discovered America, sailing by Cuba westward, gave names, as he passed along, to seven hundred islands, leaving three thousand more without names (r): Gejerus reports, from some writers, that an Indian king, in 1553, was converted to the Christian faith, that ruled over eleven thousand islands; and that in Maldivar there are reckoned to be sixteen thousand: well may the text speak of a multitude of them: or, "let the great islands", &c. such as ours of Great Britain and Ireland; these isles are said to wait for Christ and his doctrine, Isaiah 42:4 and therefore must be glad to hear of his coming and kingdom: the Gospel was very early sent to the isles, as to Cyprus, Crete, &c. see Acts 13:4 and to our northern isles likewise, who have great reason to be glad at its coming among us, continuance with us, and the success it has had; and that it is yet in the midst of us for further usefulness; and that Christ reigns, and will reign evermore.
(r) P. Martyr. Decad. 1. l. 3.
"near is the King clothed with a cloud and tempest;''
and it is usual with the Heathens to represent their deities as surrounded or clothed with a cloud (s): here the allusion is to the tabernacle and temple, when reared up and dedicated, Exodus 40:34 1 Kings 8:10 and to other appearances of God, or Christ, in a cloud, Exodus 19:9, it may denote the obscurity of his divine nature at his first coming; he appearing in the form of a servant, and in the likeness of sinful flesh, so that few discerned his glory as the glory of the only begotten of the Father; as also the darkness and blindness of the Jews concerning him, who could not perceive him to be the Messiah; notwithstanding all the characters of him; clouds and darkness were about him to them; as they were, in a literal sense, when he hung on the cross; the sun withdrew and hid itself, and darkness was upon the face of the earth for three hours; Christ was enveloped in it; and a greater darkness surrounded his soul when his divine Father hid his face from him: dark providences attended the first setting up of his kingdom, and the ministration of his Gospel in the world; the apostles, the first preachers of it, were persecuted by their own countrymen the Jews; the whole Gentile world was against them; the Roman empire, emperors, and governors of provinces, opposed them; wherever there was an open door, there were many adversaries, so that things looked very unpromising: nevertheless these clouds were dissipated, and the difficulties got over; though this has sometimes been the case since, and will be again, ere the kingdom of Christ is in all its glory; he now sits enthroned in heaven, surrounded with clouds and darkness, and unseen to us; whose being and perfections are inscrutable to us, his providences unsearchable, and his ways past finding out; and when he comes a second time, it will be at midnight, and in the clouds of heaven:
righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne; the seat, basis, and support of it; he sits on a throne doing right, and by it his throne is established; See Gill on Psalm 89:14.
(s) "Et Venus aethereos inter dea candida nimbos", Virgil. Aeneid. 8. "Venus circumdata nimbo", ib. Aeneid. 12. "Nube candentes humeros amictus augur Apollo", Horat. Carmin. l. 1. Ode 2. so Homer. Il. 5. v. 186.
and burneth up his enemies round about; so that none can escape: this was true of the Jewish nation, who were burnt up; so that there was not left root nor branch in it, Malachi 4:1, and will be true of the wicked, at the general conflagration of the world, upon Christ's second coming; and of the Gog and Magog army, after the resurrection.
the earth saw, and trembled; the inhabitants of the earth, of the Gentile world, saw the judgments of God upon the Jews, and were astonished at them; see Deuteronomy 29:24, it is usual for lightnings and earthquakes to go together; see Revelation 11:19.
at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth; as Christ is; he is Lord of all, the Prince of the kings of the earth, Acts 10:36, Revelation 1:5, and as he will show himself to be at the great day; and that is the reason why the proud and lofty, comparable to hills and mountains, shall melt at his presence.
and all the people see his glory; the glory of his justice in the destruction of his enemies; the glory of his power and grace in the salvation of his chosen; the glory of God in the face of Christ; the glory of Christ himself, as the only begotten of the Father; the glory of his person, office, grace, and righteousness, in the glass of the Gospel; the glory and honour he is now crowned with in heaven; and all the people, even all the chosen, redeemed, and called people, shall behold his glory to all eternity: it seems chiefly to respect the revelation of his glory, and his people's view of it at his first coming; see Isaiah 60:5.
that boast themselves of idols; as their saviours and deliverers, which yet are nothing, as the word (u) signifies; that praise and extol them, as the givers of good things to them, or the procurers of them for them; that glory in them, and in their worship of them, than which nothing can be a greater instance of folly and madness:
worship him, all ye gods; those that are so called, the graven images and idols before mentioned; let them bow down, and be prostrate before the Lord, as Dagon before the ark; or they that serve other gods, as Kimchi; so the Targum,
"and all the nations that serve idols shall worship before him;''
rather kings and princes, civil magistrates, who are sometimes called gods, are meant, Psalm 95:3, and who, in the latter day especially, shall serve and worship the Messiah, Psalm 72:10 though it is best of all to interpret it of angels, as this word Elohim is rendered in Psalm 8:5, and Aben Ezra says there are some of their interpreters that understand it of angels: the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, and so Apollinarius, render it, "worship him, all his angels": Gussetius (w) interprets it, "all that is God's"; all that belong to him, angels and men, and all creatures; particularly angels, the most noble of all: and this sense is confirmed by an inspired writer, who manifestly refers to and quotes this passage, and applies it to the angels worshipping Christ, the first begotten Son of God, when he came into the world, Hebrews 1:6, with which compare Luke 2:13, from whence it appears not only that Christ is superior to angels, for the proof of which it is produced by the apostle; but that he is truly God, since God only is the object of religions worship; and that, if he is worshipped by angels, he ought to be worshipped by men; and that angels are not the proper objects of worship, since they are worshippers.
(t) "pudefiunt", Cocceius; "erubescent", Gejerus. (u) "in diis nihili"; Tigurine version; so some in Vatablus, Cocceius. (w) Ebr. Comment. p. 386.
and the daughters of Judah rejoiced; particular congregated churches, particular believers and professors of Christ and his Gospel; these rejoiced at the above things, as well as because of what follows:
because of thy judgments, O Lord; either the doctrines of the Gospel, which come from the God of judgment, and are according to his justice and holiness; and are matter of joy and gladness when they are spread in the world, and succeed to the conversion of sinners, the comfort of saints and the glory of Christ; see Psalm 19:9, or his judgments upon his enemies, and the enemies of his church and people; which also are an occasion of rejoicing to them, because Christ is thereby glorified in his power, justice, truth, and faithfulness, Revelation 19:1.
thou art exalted far above all gods: not only the fictitious deities of the Gentiles, or the greatest potentates upon earth, being made higher than the kings of the earth, who are called gods; but also than the angels in heaven; he is set down at the right hand of God, where they are not, and never were, nor shall be; angels, authorities, and powers, being subject to him, Hebrews 1:13.
he preserveth the souls of his saints; that are set apart by him, and chosen in him to be holy; that are sanctified by his blood, and by his Spirit and grace, and to whom he is made sanctification: the "souls" of these, their better and more noble part, which are dear to him, and he has redeemed by his blood, and whose salvation he has obtained, and they still receive, he "preserves" from the evil of sin, from its governing and damning power, from a final and total apostasy by it, from ruin and destruction through it, from being hurt by the second death; and he preserves them from all their enemies, sin, Satan, and the world, from being destroyed by them, safe to his kingdom and glory; therefore he is to be loved, and sin to be hated by them:
he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked; of wicked and unreasonable men, into whose hands they sometimes fall, cruel and bloodthirsty persecutors; as he is able to deliver them, so oftentimes he does; and will, ere long, put them entirely out of their reach. Kimchi interprets this of the deliverance of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon, Media, and Persia.
"light is risen and prepared for the righteous;''
Christ, the light of the world, the sun of righteousness, is risen for them, and upon them, with healing in his wings, which bring joy and comfort to them:
and gladness for the upright in heart; such as have new hearts and right spirits formed in them, and are Israelites indeed, that have the truth of grace and the root of the matter in them: gladness is prepared, provided, and promised to them, and sooner or later they shall have it; the seed of it is sown, and it will spring up, and a large crop shall be enjoyed. Kimchi's note is,
"light is sown for the righteous in this world, and they shall reap light and joy in time to come, in the days of the Messiah.''
(x) Iliad 6. v. 6. & 8. v. 282. & 16. v. 39.