The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all round him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
and burns up his adversaries all round.
His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshippers of images are put to shame,
who make their boast in worthless idols;
worship him, all you gods!
Zion hears and is glad,
and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgements, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
He preserves the lives of his saints;
he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!
Psalm 97 (ESV)
This psalm has been rattling around my head the last couple of weeks.
“The Lord is surrounded by clouds and a thick darkness.”
It’s quite common in scripture for clouds to signify the presence of God. However, we don’t normally think of God as being ‘surrounded by a thick darkness’.
That said, the rest of the psalm is filled with bright imagery.
“The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.”
Even in the midst of thick darkness, the Lord preserves his saints.
“Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.”
Often there is darkness around us. It can come in many different shapes and forms. Our struggles and situations are personal and sometimes they can seem isolating and hopeless. Yet the Lord is not just the Lord of Light; he is also the Lord of the shadows, he is the Lord of all the Earth and all the Heavens and everything within.
“Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!”