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Psalm 97:12

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 12. Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous. The psalmist had bidden the earth rejoice, and here he turns to the excellent of the earth and bids them lead the song. If all others fail to praise the Lord, the godly must not. To them God is peculiarly revealed, by them he should be specially adored.

And give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness -- which is the harmony of all his attributes, the superlative wholeness of his character. This is a terror to the wicked, and a cause of thankfulness to the gracious. To remember that Jehovah is holy is becoming in those who dwell in his courts, to give thanks in consequence of that remembrance is the sure index of their fitness to abide in his presence. In reference to the triumphs of the gospel, this text teaches us to rejoice greatly in its purifying effect; it is the death of sin and the life of virtue. An unholy gospel is no gospel. The holiness of the religion of Jesus is its glory, it is that which makes it glad tidings, since while man is left in his sins no bliss can be his portion. Salvation from sin is the priceless gift of our thrice holy God, therefore let us magnify him for ever and ever. He will fill the world with holiness, and so with happiness, therefore let us glory in his holy name, world without end. Amen.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 12. Rejoice in the LORD. We must "rejoice evermore"; for even holy mourning hath the seed of joy in it, which the soul finds by that time it is over, if not in it. -- William Cooper, in the "Morning Exercises."

Verse 12. Rejoice in the Lord.

  1. Our rejoicing in the Lord denotes our taking a very sincere and cordial pleasure in whatever relates to the ever blessed God, particularly his existence, perfections, and providence; the discoveries of his will to us, especially in his word; the interest we have in him, and the relations wherein we stand to him; his continual protection, guidance and influence; his gracious intercourse with us in the duties of religious worship; and, finally, the hope he has given us of fulness of joy, in his beatific and most glorious presence above.
  2. Rejoicing in the Lord signifies that our joy in God is superior to all our other joys, otherwise it is a joy unworthy of him, and no way, or not savingly, profitable to us.
  3. Whatever else we rejoice in, we are to rejoice in such a manner, that we may be properly said to rejoice in the Lord, even when other things are the immediate occasions of our joy. The God we serve is not an envious and a malevolent Being, but exceeding liberal and kind; he has created us with an inextinguishable desire after happiness, as a secret intimation that he intends to make us happy, if we do not make ourselves miserable; and while our principal happiness is lodged in himself, and to be found nowhere else, (in which he has shown the singular regard he has to our nature), he feeds our hearts with a thousand little rivulets of joy and satisfaction from created objects: our bodies are endowed with a variety of senses and appetites, and our souls with powers and faculties of their own; nor was any one sense or faculty made in vain, or to lie always idle and useless; but every sense, and much more every mental faculty, has not one, but a great number of things provided to entertain it. But then the soul is not to lose itself in this maze and labyrinth of delight; it is not by this variety to be diverted from that one infinite good, who eminently contains in himself all the various kinds and degrees of true joy. -- Henry Grove, 1683-1737-8.

Verse 12. Rejoice ... and give thanks. Two things are to be observed: One, that he unites joy in the Lord and praise of God. Rightly: for it is not possible for a man to praise the Lord truly and from the soul, unless he rejoices in Him. Another, that he connects the praise of God with the remembrance of his holiness. And with good reason: for it is the chief use of divine praise, that by the exercise thereof, we should keep fresh in our souls the remembrance of God and of all the blessings received from Him. Thus this verse contains the root and fruit of divine praise. The root is joy in God; the fruit is the remembrance of God and his goodness. --Musculus.

Verse 12. Ye righteous ... all ye that are upright in heart. Some may say the just or the righteous man may thus rejoice; but where are any such? "Who can say", saith Solomon, "I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" No; "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." A vain thing may as seem then to exhort men to rejoice, when the condition annexed is such as excludes all from rejoicing To what end is it to incite the just to rejoice when there are none such that may rejoice? The answer is ready at hand in the latter part of the verse. By just are meant all such as are "upright in heart", which clause is added partly to exclude the hypocrite, and partly to temper and qualify the rigour of the term before used, if it were strictly and exactly taken. So that it is a note as well of extent, as of restraint.

  1. Of restraint, to exclude from this joy, and all right therein, all dissemblers, all counterfeit Christians, all hollow hearted hypocrites, that repent in the face but not in the heart; that make a sour face that they may seem to fast, saith our Saviour, that justify themselves in the sight of men, but God seeth their hearts what they are, and seeth them to be far other than either they should be, or they pretend themselves to be.
  2. Of extent, to extend and enlarge this joy, the ground of it and the right to it, to all that are single and sincere hearted; and so to give and afford a share and a portion in it as well to those that are sincerely righteous on earth, as to those that are perfectly righteous in heaven. It is as a key to let in the one. It is as a bolt to bar out the other. --Thomas Gataker.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 12. Give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. Be thankful for --

  1. Its unsullied perfection.
  2. Its wondrous forbearance.
  3. Its place in our salvation.
  4. Its approachableness through Christ.
  5. Its predicted triumphs.

--W.J.

Verse 12.

  1. A remembrance at which the world does not give thanks.
  2. Reasons which make it a matter of thanksgiving with the righteous. Its bearing on the way of salvation; on the doctrines of the gospel; on the law of the Christian life. --C.D.
Read Psalm 97:12