Once again Psalm 97 embraces a concept previously advocated and championed. The emphasis easily is missed because it is so commonplace today. Todayís religious people (many who are not Christians) declare a world focus. These religious people present perspectives as a benefit to all adherents worldwide.
While this concept is commonplace today, it was not to the devout Old Testament Israelites. They thought they alone were Godís people. They often felt that being religious exclusivists was appropriate. Rejecting non-Israelites expressed faith in God.
Though this is a complex discussion, most faithful in Old Testament Judaism thought of rejecting idolatrous people, not converting them. Most faithful Israelites were dedicated to being exclusive, not to converting. The best way to preserve godly dedication was by rejecting association with those corrupted through idolatrous influences.
Consider how striking the words of Psalm 97 were in the context of those times. The Creator God was king of the earth. Righteousness and justice were His thronesí foundation (not status, power, or control). All the world was His creation. The most formidable earthly challenge were nothing to Him. He deserved the praise of every nation.
Idolatry was nothing. Loving this supreme Lord was expressed in rescuing the godly from evil and the wicked. The foundation of joy was in right doing. The godly rejoiced in this Lord and praised His name.
Though God was (is) fearsome, His presence brought joy to the righteous. Only those who did evil were afraid of Him.
For the righteous, His coming was a time of celebration, but for the evil it was an event of terror.
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