This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 97:7-12

Exalted Far Above

(7) Let all be ashamed who serve idols, those who make their boast in worthless gods. Bow in worship to him, all you gods. (8) Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice because of your judgments, Yahweh, (9) for you, Yahweh, (are) most high over all the earth. You are exalted far above all other gods. (10) You, who love Yahweh, hate evil. He preserves the lives of his saints. He delivers them from the hand of the wicked. (11) Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. (12) Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous ones, and praise his holy name. 

Two synonyms expressing elation, already used in the first verse, are found in this segment: “glad” and “rejoice” (vs. 8), along with “gladness” and “be glad” (vss. 11 & 12). Two other repetitions should be noted: “gods” (twice in vs. 7 and again in vs. 9) and “righteous/righteous ones” (vss. 11 & 12) along with the synonyms “saints” (vs. 10) and “upright in heart” (vs. 11). Finally, the psalmist invokes Yahweh’s name four times (vss. 8, 9, 10, & 12).

Yahweh’s exaltation means
- shame for idolaters, but rejoicing for true worshipers.  (7-9)
- deliverance and delight for those who love him.  (10-12)

Yahweh’s exaltation, while dreaded by his enemies, causes great rejoicing for the upright who love him.

The term, “gods,” speaking of false deities, is a translation of the Hebrew word “elohim.” That this word was the most frequently used Old Testament name for the God of Israel may seem confusing to us until we understand that “elohim” always took its meaning from the context in which it was used. In most occurrences, “Elohim” clearly referred to Israel’s God, another name for “Yahweh” or “Adonai.” Here the context makes it clear that “elohim” refers to false deities, that is, to lesser spirit beings or the “powers” behind the idols, probably to fallen angels (demonic beings) or even to Satan, himself (vs. 7).

Paul identified several ranks of rebellious angels in his epistle to the Ephesians: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12). While we do not have a lot of information about such false gods, we do know that they have a higher rank and possess greater power than mere humans. We also know that many unbelievers fall into idolatry by doing homage to such spirit beings. Scripture makes it clear that Yahweh stands far above angelic beings, both righteous and unrighteous. When compared to him, they are revealed to be “worthless gods” who must humbly acknowledge his supreme authority. We should never for a moment doubt the majesty and glory of the God we worship or the truth John gave us: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4 NKJV).

Psalm 98

Psalm 97:1-6