Psalm 97:11

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 11. Light is sown for the righteous. All along their pathway it is strewn. Their night is almost over, their day is coming, the morning already advancing with rosy steps is sowing the earth with orient pearls. The full harvest of delight is not yet ours, but it is sown for us; it is springing, it will yet appear in fulness. This is only for those who are light before the Lord in his own righteousness, for all others the blackness of darkness is reserved.

And gladness for the upright in heart. Gladness is not only for one righteous man in the singular, but for the whole company of the upright, even as the apostle, after speaking of the crown of life laid up for himself, immediately amended his speech by adding, "and not for me only, but also for all them that love his appearing." The upright ought to be glad, they have cause to be glad, yea and they shall be glad. Those who are right hearted shall also be glad hearted. Right leads to light. In the furrows of integrity lie the seeds of happiness, which shall develop into a harvest of bliss. God has lightning for sinners and light for saints. The gospel of Jesus, wherever it goes, sows the whole earth with joy for believers, for these are the men who are righteous before the Lord.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 11. Light is sown. [rz does not here signify sown strewn into the earth, but strewn along his life's way, so that he, the righteous one, advances step by step in the light. Hitzig rightly compares kidnatai, vkidnatai, used of the dawn and of the sun. Of the former Virgil also says, Et jam prima novo spargebat lumine terras. --Franz Delitzsch.

Verse 11. Light is sown.

And now Aurora, from the saffron bed
Of her Tithonus rising, sowed the earth
With dewy light. --C.R. Kennedy's Translation of Virgil.

Verse 11. Light is sown.

Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime
Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl. --John Milton.

Verse 11. Light is sown for the righteous. Most thoughtful men increase in faith and spiritual discernment by often doubting, and by having their doubts cleared up. Religious thought in this way grows into a personal feeling; and the solid rock of truer conviction and deeper trust as a firm foundation for the soul to build upon for eternity, remains behind after all the abrasion of loose and more perishable materials through speculation. A different if not a truer revelation of heavenly realities is given to us through the dark distressing process of doubting, than through the bright joyful exercise of unhesitating faith; just as our knowledge of the chemistry of the sun and stars, of the physical constitution of distant worlds, is derived not from the bright bands of their spectrum, which reveal only their size and shape, but from Fraunhofer's wonderful lines -- those black blank spaces breaking up the spectrum bands -- which tell us of rays arrested in their path and prevented from bearing their message to us by particular metallic vapours. Unto the upright, just because of the purity and singleness of their motives and the earnestness of their quest after truth, there ariseth light in the darkness. We must remember that "light is sown for the righteous"; that its more or less rapid germination and development depend upon the nature of the soil on which it falls and the circumstances that influence it; that, like seed, it at first lies concealed in the dark furrow, under the cheerless clod, in the cold ungenial winter; but that even then, while shining in the darkness, while struggling with doubts and difficulties of the mind and heart, it is nevertheless the source of much comfort, and in its slow, quickening, and hidden growth the cause of lively hope, and of bright anticipation of that time when it shall blossom and ripen in the summer time of heaven -- shine more and more unto the perfect day. --Hugh Macmillan, in "The Ministry of Nature", 1871.

Verse 11. Light is sows for the righteous: sown in these two fields,

  1. Of God's eternal decree, in his power, promise, grace and love. These are the "upper springs."
  2. In the field of their graces, and holy duties; these are the "nether springs"; both which fall into one river, and "make glad the city of God"; both these fields yield a plentiful harvest of comfort to the godly. --John Sheffield, in "The Rising Sun", 1654.

Verse 11. Sown. The righteous man's harvest is secret and hidden. It lieth, like the corn covered in the ground; "their life is hid"; and "it is not manifest what they shall be"; "no eye hath seen, or ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what the Lord hath laid up for them that love him" ( Colossians 3:3 1 John 3:2 1 Corinthians 2:9 ). Name what you can, and it will be a mystery, a secret thing, that belongs to the upright in heart. First, is not the decree of God a hidden thing? a depth unsearchable? and able to make a man astonished? Did not Paul cry out, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" ( Romans 12:33 ). And is not the incarnation of Christ a secret too? what more to be admired than that God should become man, and be manifested in the flesh? The very angels desired to peep into this mystery. 1 Timothy 3:16 1 Peter 1:12 Isaiah 7:14 . Again, the conversion and regeneration of a sinner is admirable; it's a noble, yet a secret work: Nicodemus a great doctor could not see it. And if natural births be so strange, what shall we judge of this? Moreover, peace of conscience and joy in the Holy Ghost is no open matter; none knoweth it, but he that hath it. So is the earnest of the Spirit, and true seal of salvation; the power, life and sweetness of the word; the remission and pardon of sin, with certainty of salvation. And in the fifth place, the harvest is secret, if we consider where it is growing. One close is, the secret purpose of God; and who can understand it? A second is, his word; and how hardly is that to be searched into? A third is, a man's own heart; and is not that both secret and deceitful? And last of all, the very principal part of the harvest is hid with Christ in heaven; and when he appears, it will appear what it shall be. --John Barlow.

Verse 11-12., are both most savoury and precious notanda. -- Give me to experience, O Lord, those revelations which follow in the train of obedience; and O that I felt the charm and enjoyment of holiness, so as to give thanks, in the reflection that with a holy God holiness is an indispensable requisite for our appearing in his presence. We should further be grateful because of this essential attribute in the Godhead; for it is in virtue of his holiness that evil cannot dwell with him, and that the world will at length be delivered, and this conclusively, from the wickedness and malice and vile sensualities by which it is now so disquieted and deformed. Hasten this consummation, O Lord. --Thomas Chalmers.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 11.

  1. Where is it sown? The answer to this will come under the following heads, viz. In the purpose of God, In the purchase of Christ, In the office of the Spirit, In the promises of the Word, In the work of Grace wrought in the heart, and, In the preparations made above in glory.
  2. When is the season of reaping? And to this, the answer is, The season of reaping the first fruits, of reaping in part, is at certain times in the present life; the season of reaping more fully is at death; and of reaping most fully and perfectly commences at the day of judgment and is continued throughout eternity.
(a) The season of reaping in part falls out at some times within the course of this present life. Particularly

  1. Times of affliction have been to the upright, seasons of reaping the joy sown. By this they have been prepared for sufferings, supported under them, and made afterwards to forget their sorrows, by reason of the gladness breaking in from the affecting discovery of what God has done for them, and wrought in them. Thus God causeth light to arise in darkness, and in a rainy day refresheth them with a beam from heaven, brightening the drops that fall; brings his people into the wilderness, and there speaks comfortably unto them.

(2) Seasons of suffering for the sake of Christ and the gospel, have been seasons wherein the upright have begun to reap the joy sown. When called to resist unto blood, striving against sin, they have need of more than ordinary comfort, to enable them to meet, and hold firm through the fiery trial: and they have found that then encouragement hath been yielded them in a degree they never before experienced ( John 16:33 ).

(3) Seasons wherein God has called the righteous to great and difficult service, have been seasons of reaping the beginnings of joys sown. When their heavenly Father has lifted up the light of his countenance upon them, and shed abroad the sense of his love within them, they are prepared to go whither he sends them, and to do whatever he bids them.

(4) After sore conflicts with Satan, the upright have been revived by the springing of the joy sown. After Christ was tempted came an angel to comfort him. And for the encouragement of his followers he declares, Revelation 2:17 , "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it."

(5) In waiting upon God in the sanctuary the upright have met with him, and so have had the beginnings of joy sown.

(b) A fuller reaping time will be at death; with some as the soul is going; but with all immediately after its release from the body. 3. The season in which the righteous shall reap their joy sown, to the full, and in perfection, shall be at the last day. Then Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe, and lead them all in a body, and all of them perfected, into that presence of God, where there is fulness of joy, and where there are pleasures for evermore.

--Daniel Wilcox.