One day Jesus will be king of the earth. He currently reigns in heaven and sits on a heavenly throne, but as David sat on the throne of Israel and reigned over God’s people, so will Jesus reign on earth in the future (Revelation 20:6). The reason why people were confused when Jesus claimed to be the Messiah was they expected him to establish his kingdom immediately (Luke 19:11). Instead, he died on a cross and declared men’s sins to be forgiven (Luke 5:24).
Psalm 97 states, “The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice” (Psalm 97:1). There appears to be a contradiction in this statement. At the present, sin is still at work in every life and although our sins have been forgiven, we experience the consequences of our wrong choices. The only way we are able to rejoice is by focusing on the condition of our hearts.
The Psalmist said, “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright of heart” (Psalm 97:11). On an individual basis, it is possible for God to reign, even in a world filled with sin. When a person submits himself to God, a light or flame is set in his heart signifying the presence of God. Figuratively, it could be said that the LORD is placed on the throne of his heart and Jesus begins to reign as his king.
At its root, the word translated gladness means to brighten up. The Hebrew word “samach usually refers to a spontaneous emotion or extreme happiness which is expressed in some visible and/or external manner” (8055). David was not an ordinary man, nor was his behavior typical of a king. It says in 1 Samuel 18:28, “Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David.” And when the ark was brought into Jerusalem, it says, “so David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom into the city of David with gladness…And David danced before the LORD with all his might” (2 Samuel 6:12, 14).
Although David had the privilege of being king of Israel, he submitted himself to God and acknowledged the LORD’s right to reign over his life (Psalm 110:1). It says in Psalm 97, “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols” (Psalm 97:6-7). The word translated confounded, bûwsh (boosh) means to be ashamed or to be disappointed (954).
The word translated idol is eliyl. This word literally means not god or good for nothing (457). God allows us the freedom to choose to worship him or not. When we let God reign in our hearts, the result is gladness. Those who choose to be lord of their own lives will be disappointed because one day they will have to stand before God and answer for their rejection of Jesus Christ (Romans 14:12).