Ep.212: Psalm 97: God’s Storm.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.

In Psalm 97, God shows up in a storm and earthquake, like he did at Mt. Sinai when he gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The psalm says:
  The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; 
     let the distant shores rejoice. 
  Clouds and thick darkness surround him; 
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
  Fire goes before him
    and consumes his foes on every side.
  His lightning lights up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles (vv. 1-4). 

Exodus tells us that when the commandments were given, “There was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain. . . . Mount Sinai was covered with smoke. . . and [the mountain] trembled violently” (Exo 19:16, 18). Here, in Psalm 97, God uses similar special effects, as he comes to the temple in Jerusalem to establish Zion as the seat of his kingdom, and to rule the nations of the earth.        

God’s rule brings Israel security, good government, and joy. He plans the same for other nations, to deliver them from false gods and injustice. The poet says:
  Zion hears and rejoices [at your coming, God],
      and the villages of Judah are glad
      because of your judgements (v. 8).
   Light shines on the righteous
      and joy on the upright in heart.
  Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,
      and praise his holy name. 

Let’s pray. 

Our father, in scripture you often appear in a storm. On Mt. Sinai you delivered the law with darkness and clouds and lightning and earthquake (Exo 19:18). When Job finished talking and started listening, you spoke to him out of a storm (Job 40:6). Jeremiah predicted that that “the storm of the Lord will burst out in wrath, a driving wind swirling down on the heads of the wicked” (Jer 30:23). On the Sea of Galilee, Jesus slept through a storm, until his fearful disciples woke him. Then he rebuked the wind and raging waters, and asked the disciples, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:23-25). 

Father, our faith is in your storm-like presence in our lives. We experience you as a hurricane blowing away the lies we construct, as an earthquake destroying the religious systems we build, as a fire burning impurities out of our lives until we become like gold. O God, be the lightning of love that destroys our selfishness, be the fire of holiness that burns away our sin, be the refiner’s fire that melts away our dross and makes us holy and beautiful. 

Father, your presence is a storm in the church, a storm that would overturn comfortable evangelicalism and make it into an army of God. You are the cyclone that devastates lukewarm Christiantiy, and calls us to be hot or cold (Rev 3:16). You are the breath of the Holy Spirit that blows through our stale lives, opening them to the wind of God.  

Father, you are the storm at the end of the world, for you promise, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens” (Heb 12:26 quoting Haggai 2:6). 

Thank you that you come not only for destruction, but to rebuild and protect and save. As the poet says,
    You, Lord, are the most high over all the earth,
      you are exalted far above all gods.
    You guard the lives of your faithful ones,
        and deliver them from the hand of the wicked (vv. 9-10).  

With the poet we pray, 
        Let your light shine on us, Lord,
          Give us joy.
        Teach us to rejoice in you,
            For we praise your holy name (vv. 11-12). 


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.