Psalm 97:7

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 7. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols. They shall be so; shame shall cover their faces, they shall blush to think of their former besotted boastings. When a man gravely worships what has been engraved by a man's hand, and puts his trust in a mere nothing and nonentity, he is indeed brutish, and when he is converted from such absurdity, he may well be ashamed. A man who worships an image is but the image of a man, his senses must have left him. He who boasts of an idol makes an idle boast.

Worship him, all ye gods. Bow down yourselves, ye fancied gods. Let Jove do homage to Jehovah, let Thor lay down his hammer at the foot of the cross, and Juggernaut remove his blood stained car out of the road of Immanuel. If the false gods are thus bidden to worship the coming Lord, how much more shall they adore him who are godlike creatures in heaven, even the angelic spirits? Paul quotes this passage as the voice of God to angels when he sent his Son into the world. All powers are bound to recognise the chief power; since they derive their only rightful authority from the Lord, they should be careful to acknowledge his superiority at all times by the most reverent adoration.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 7. Confounded be all they that serve graven images. etc. Albeit such as are lovers of imagery not only do serve images, but also will defend the use of images in the exercise of religion, and glory in them; yet shall they at length be ashamed of their boasting. -- David Dickson.

Verse 7. Worship him, all ye gods, or Let all the angels of God worship him. The matter of the psalm itself makes it manifest that the Holy Ghost treats in it about God's bringing in the firstborn into the world, and the setting up of his kingdom in him. A kingdom is described wherein God would reign, which should destroy idolatry and false worship; a kingdom wherein the isles of the Gentiles should rejoice, being called to an interest therein; a kingdom that was to be preached, proclaimed, declared, unto the increase of light and holiness in the world, with the manifestation of the glory of God unto the ends of all the earth: every part whereof declareth the kingdom of Christ to be intended in the psalm, and consequently that it is a prophecy of the bringing in of the first begotten into the world. Our inquiry is, whether the angels be intended in these words. They are ~yhlalk omnes dii; and are so rendered by Jerome, Adorate eum, omnes dii; and by our authorised version, "Worship him, all ye gods." The preceding words are, "Confounded be all they that serve graven images", ~ylylab ~yllhtmh, that boast themselves in or of "idols", "vanities, nothings", as the word signifies, wherein ensues this apostrophe, "Worship him, ~yhlalb, all ye gods." And who they are is our present inquiry. Some, as all the modern Jews, say that it is the gods of the Gentiles, those whom they worship, that are intended; so making ~yhla and swlyla, "gods", and "vain idols", to be the same in this place.

But

  1. It cannot be that the psalmist should exhort the idols of the heathen, some whereof were devils, some dead men, some inanimate parts of the creations, unto a reverential worshipping of God reigning over all. Hence the Targumist, seeing the vanity of that interpretation, perverts the words, and renders them, "Worship before Him, all ye nations which serve idols."

(2) ~yhla, "Elohim", is so far in this place from being exegetical of ~ylyla "gods", or "vain idols"; that it is put in direct opposition to it, as is evident from the words themselves.

(3) The word Elohim, which most frequently denotes the true God, doth never alone, and absolutely taken, signify false gods or idols, but only when it is joined with some other word discovering its application, as his god, or their gods, or the gods of this or that people, in which case it is rendered by the LXX., (Septuagint) sometimes eidwlon an "idol"; sometimes ceiropoihton, an "idol made with hands"; sometimes bdelugma an "abomination." But here it hath no such limitation or restriction.

Whereas, therefore, there are some creatures who, by reason of some peculiar excellency and likeness unto God, or subordination unto him in their work, are called gods, it must be those, or some of them, that are intended in the expression. Now these are either magistrates or angels.

  1. Magistrates are somewhere called elohim, because of the representation they make of God in his power, and their peculiar subordination unto him in their working. The Jews, indeed, contend that no other magistrates but those only of the great Sanhedrim are anywhere called gods; but that concerns not our present inquiry. Some magistrates are so called, but none of them are intended by the psalmist, there being no occasion administered unto him of any such apostrophe unto them.

(2) Angels are called elohim: Degomenoi qeoi, 1 Corinthians 8:5 . They have the name of God attributed unto them, and these are they whom the psalmist speaks unto. Having called on the whole creation to rejoice in the bringing forth of the kingdom of God, and pressed his exhortation upon things on the earth, he turns unto the ministering angels, and calls on them to the discharge of their duty unto the King of that kingdom. Hence the Targamist, in the beginning of Psalms 96:1-13 expressly mentioned "his high angels", joining in his praise and worship, using the Greek word aggeloj, for distinction's sake, as on the same account it often occurs in the Targum.

We have thus evinced that the psalm treats about the bringing in of the firstborn into the world; as also that they are the ministering angels who are here commanded to worship him. --John Owen.