on Psalms 97 :1
The Lord reigneth - Here is a simple proposition, which is a self-evident axiom, and requires no proof: Jehovah is infinite and eternal; is possessed of unlimited power and unerring wisdom; as he is the Maker, so he must be the Governor, of all things. His authority is absolute, and his government therefore universal. In all places, on all occasions, and in all times, Jehovah reigns.
But this supreme King is not only called hwhy Yehovah, which signifies his infinite and eternal being, unlimited power, and unerring wisdom; and, as Creator, his universal government; but he is also ynd) Adonai, the Director and Judge. He directs human actions by his word, Spirit, and Providence. Hence are his laws and revelation in general; for the governed should know their governor, and should be acquainted with his laws, and the reasons on which obedience is founded. As Adonai or Director, he shows them the difference between good and evil; and their duty to their God, their neighbors, and themselves: and he finally becomes the Judge of their actions. But as his law is holy, and his commandment holy, just, and good, and man is in a fallen, sinful state; hence he reveals himself as; אלהים Elohim, God, entering into a gracious covenant with mankind, to enlighten his darkness, and help his infirmities; that he may see what is just, and be able to do it. But as this will not cancel the sins already committed, hence the necessity of a Savior, an atonement; and hence the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. This is the provision made by the great God for the more effectual administration of his kingdom upon earth. Jehovah, Adonai, Elohim reigneth; et his animadversis, and these points considered, it is no wonder that the psalmist should add,
Let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad - The earth, the terraqueous globe; especially, here, the vast continents, over every part of which God's dominion extends. But it is not confined to them; it takes in the islands of the sea; all the multitude of those islands, even to the smallest inhabited rock; which are as much the objects of his care, the number of their inhabitants considered, as the vastest continents on which are founded the mightiest empires. All this government springs from his holiness, righteousness, and benignity; and is exercised in what we call providence, from pro, for, before, and video, to see, which word is well defined and applied by Cicero: Providentia est, per quam futurism aliquid videtur, antequam factum sit. "Providence is that by which any thing future is seen before it takes place." De Invent. c. 53. And, in reference to a Divine providence, he took up the general opinion, viz., Esse deos, et eorum providentia mundum administrari. De Divinat. c. 51, ad finem. "There are gods; and by their providence the affairs of the world are administered."
This providence is not only general, taking in the earth and its inhabitants, en masse; giving and establishing laws by which all things shall be governed; but it is also particular; it takes in the multitudes of the isles, as well as the vast continents; the different species as well as the genera; the individual, as well as the family. As every whole is composed of its parts, without the smallest of which it could not be a whole; so all generals are composed of particulars. And by the particular providence of God, the general providence is formed; he takes care of each individual; and, consequently, he takes care of the whole. Therefore, on the particular providence of God, the general providence is built; and the general providence could not exist without the particular, any more than a whole could subsist independently of its parts. It is by this particular providence that God governs the multitude of the isles, notices the fall of a sparrow, bottles; the tears of the mourner, and numbers the hairs of his followers. Now, as God is an infinitely wise and good Being, and governs the world in wisdom and goodness, the earth may well rejoice and the multitude of the isles be glad.
on Psalms 97 :1
The Lord reigneth - See the notes at Psalm 93:1. This is the general fact to be dwelt upon; this is the foundation of joy and praise. The universe is not without a sovereign. It is not the abode of anarchy. It is not the production of chance. It is not subject to mere physical laws. It is not under the control of evil. It is under the government of a God: a wise, holy, intelligent, just, benevolent Being, who rules it well, and who presides over all its affairs. If there is anything for which we should rejoice, it is that there is One Mind, everlasting and most glorious, who presides over the universe, and conducts all things according to his own wise and eternal plan.
Let the earth rejoice - The earth itself; all parts of it; all that dwell upon it. As the earth everywhere derives whatever it has of fertility, beauty, grandeur, or stability, from God - as order, beauty, productiveness are diffused everywhere over it - as it has received so many proofs of the divine beneficence toward it, it has occasion for universal joy.
Let the multitude of isles be glad thereof - Margin, "Many, or great isles." The Hebrew is many. So the Septuagint, the Latin Vulgate, the Chaldee, and the Syriac. The eye of the psalmist is evidently on the many islands which are scattered over the sea. Not merely the continents - the extended countries where nations dwell - have occasion for joy, but the beautiful islands - the spots of earth which have risen from the deep, and which are covered with fruits and flowers - these, too, have occasion to rejoice: to rejoice that God has raised them from the waters; that he keeps them from being overflowed or washed away; that he clothes them with beauty; that he makes them the abode of happy life; that he places them in the wastes of the ocean as he does the stars in the wastes of the sky, to beautify the universe. The idea in the verse is, that all the earth has cause to rejoice that Yahweh reigns.
on Psalms 97 :1
97:1 Isles - The Gentile nations, as this word, used Isa 42:4, is expounded, Matt 12:21.