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Mizmor 097 (The Seeds of Light)
(א) ה’ מָלָךְ תָּגֵל הָאָרֶץ יִשְׂמְחוּ אִיִּים רַבִּים:
(1) Hashem reigns! Let the earth be glad; let the many islands rejoice.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 1]
Key Concepts of Mizmor 097 (The Seeds of Light)
This is the eighth in the series of 11 mizmorim that were originally composed by Moshe Rabbeinu and subsequently incorporated into Tehilim by David. Like the previous mizmorim, the mizmor paints a picture of a promised future, when the patience of the righteous will have been vindicated.
The mizmor is essentially a message of hope: Don’t despair in this dark and bitter Galus – the Geulah will surely come. In fact, the seeds of light pointing to that glorious future have already been sown. The light is not yet visible but will soon shine upon the righteous and the upright. With the light will came great joy.
The Geulah will be identified as the era when the world finally recognizes Hashem as the one true Power of the universe and will resolve to live by His principles of righteousness and justice .
The mizmor is presented in three parts, the first of which visualizes the revelation to the world that Hashem reigns. The Geulah is here! The second part describes the recognition by the nations that the gods that they have been worshipping are false. The third part speaks of the great joy that has been held in store for the righteous and the upright, waiting for the day that it will be finally released. The seeds of light have been planted and when they sprout, the joy will surely follow.
Exploring the Mizmor
PART 1. REVELATION OF THE KING. The mizmor begins with a consoling vision of the Geulah when Hashem is revealed as the only true Power of the universe.
(א) ה’ מָלָךְ תָּגֵל הָאָרֶץ יִשְׂמְחוּ אִיִּים רַבִּים: (ב) עָנָן וַעֲרָפֶל סְבִיבָיו צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאוֹ: (ג) אֵשׁ לְפָנָיו תֵּלֵךְ וּתְלַהֵט סָבִיב צָרָיו: (ד) הֵאִירוּ בְרָקָיו תֵּבֵל רָאֲתָה וַתָּחֵל הָאָרֶץ: (ה) הָרִים כַּדּוֹנַג נָמַסּוּ מִלִּפְנֵי ה’ מִלִּפְנֵי אֲדוֹן כָּל־הָאָרֶץ: (ו) הִגִּידוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם צִדְקוֹ וְרָאוּ כָל־הָעַמִּים כְּבוֹדוֹ:
(1) Hashem reigns! Let the earth be glad; let the many islands rejoice. (2) Cloud and mist are around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. (3) Fire goes before Him and consumes His adversaries all around. (4) His lightning bolts illuminate the world; the earth sees and trembles. (5) Mountains melt like wax before Hashem; before the Master of all the earth. (6) The heavens proclaim His righteousness and all the peoples see His glory.
PART 2. REJECTION OF FALSE GODS. Those who worship false gods have come to regret their misplaced loyalties. The Jewish people in the Holy Land are gratified to see the vindication of their devotion.
(ז) יֵבֹשׁוּ כָּל־עֹבְדֵי פֶסֶל הַמִּתְהַלְלִים בָּאֱלִילִים הִשְׁתַּחֲווּ־לוֹ כָּל־אֱלֹהִים: (ח) שָׁמְעָה וַתִּשְׂמַח צִיּוֹן וַתָּגֵלְנָה בְּנוֹת יְהוּדָה לְמַעַן מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ ה’: (ט) כִּי־אַתָּה ה’ עֶלְיוֹן עַל־כָּל־הָאָרֶץ מְאֹד נַעֲלֵיתָ עַל־כָּל־אֱלֹהִים:
(7) All the idol worshippers are humiliated, those who pride themselves with false gods. Bow to Him, all you gods. (8) Tzion hears it and rejoices; the towns and villages of Yehudah exult, because of Your judgments, Hashem. (9) For You, Hashem, are supreme above all the earth; You are exalted high far above all powers.
PART 3. JOY FOR THE RIGHTEOUS. The rightous of the world rejoice in the protection of Hashem. He has proven His faithfulness to them by rewarding them with the ever-growing light of His blessing.
(י) אֹהֲבֵי ה’ שִׂנְאוּ רָע שֹׁמֵר נַפְשׁוֹת חֲסִידָיו מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים יַצִּילֵם: (יא) אוֹר זָרֻעַ לַצַּדִּיק וּלְיִשְׁרֵי־לֵב שִׂמְחָה: (יב) שִׂמְחוּ צַדִּיקִים בַּה’ וְהוֹדוּ לְזֵכֶר קָדְשׁוֹ:
(10) O lovers of Hashem, hate evil; He guards the lives of His devout ones. He rescues them from the hand of the wicked. (11) Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright of heart. (12) Be joyful, O righteous, in Hashem and give thanks at the mention of His Holy [Name].
Learning the Mizmor
(א) ה’ מָלָךְ תָּגֵל הָאָרֶץ 
יִשְׂמְחוּ אִיִּים רַבִּים:
Do not despair for the time will come when Hashem reveals that He and no other power reigns everywhere — ה’ מָלָךְ . Let all of the earth be glad — תָּגֵל הָאָרֶץ . Let even the many isolated islands of humanity rejoice — יִשְׂמְחוּ אִיִּים רַבִּים for they are all under His protection.
(ב) עָנָן וַעֲרָפֶל סְבִיבָיו 
צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאוֹ:
Cloud and mist are around him — עָנָן וַעֲרָפֶל סְבִיבָיו because no mortal man can see Him. But His presence is evident from His acts, which reflect His core principles of righteousness and justice — צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט . Those principles are the foundation of His throne — צֶדֶק וּמִשְׁפָּט מְכוֹן כִּסְאוֹ .
(ג) אֵשׁ לְפָנָיו תֵּלֵךְ 
וּתְלַהֵט סָבִיב צָרָיו:
The purifying fire of justice goes before Him — אֵשׁ לְפָנָיו תֵּלֵךְ and consumes His evil adversaries all around — וּתְלַהֵט סָבִיב צָרָיו so that for them there is no escape.
(ד) הֵאִירוּ בְרָקָיו תֵּבֵל 
רָאֲתָה וַתָּחֵל הָאָרֶץ:
His lightning bolts illuminate the world — הֵאִירוּ בְרָקָיו תֵּבֵל to reveal the effects of His justice to all. The inhabitants of the earth see His fury and tremble — רָאֲתָה וַתָּחֵל הָאָרֶץ .
(ה) הָרִים כַּדּוֹנַג נָמַסּוּ מִלִּפְנֵי ה’ 
מִלִּפְנֵי אֲדוֹן כָּל הָאָרֶץ:
The wicked kings are craggy mountains of arrogance, but they melt like wax in the heat of the fire that goes before Hashem — הָרִים כַּדּוֹנַג נָמַסּוּ מִלִּפְנֵי ה’ , before the true Master of all the earth — מִלִּפְנֵי אֲדוֹן כָּל־הָאָרֶץ .
(ו) הִגִּידוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם צִדְקוֹ 
וְרָאוּ כָל הָעַמִּים כְּבוֹדוֹ:
The angels in the heavens proclaim His righteousness — הִגִּידוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם צִדְקוֹ by doing His will. And all the peoples, even those far from the Torah, see and become aware of His glory — וְרָאוּ כָל־הָעַמִּים כְּבוֹדוֹ .
(ז) יֵבֹשׁוּ כָּל עֹבְדֵי פֶסֶל 
הַמִּתְהַלְלִים בָּאֱלִילִים 
הִשְׁתַּחֲווּ לוֹ כָּל אֱלֹהִים:
All the idol worshippers are humiliated — יֵבֹשׁוּ כָּל־עֹבְדֵי פֶסֶל especially those who pride themselves with the empty achievements of their false gods — הַמִּתְהַלְלִים בָּאֱלִילִים . Bow to Him, all you heavenly bodies, who are the gods worshipped by the nations — הִשְׁתַּחֲווּ־לוֹ כָּל־אֱלֹהִים .
(ח) שָׁמְעָה וַתִּשְׂמַח צִיּוֹן 
וַתָּגֵלְנָה בְּנוֹת יְהוּדָה 
לְמַעַן מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ ה’:
While the sound of the wicked receiving their punishment causes the rest of the world to tremble, Tzion hears it and rejoices — שָׁמְעָה וַתִּשְׂמַח צִיּוֹן . The desolated towns and villages of Yehudah exult — וַתָּגֵלְנָה בְּנוֹת יְהוּדָה , because of Your judgments that are being carried out, Hashem — לְמַעַן מִשְׁפָּטֶיךָ ה’ .
(ט) כִּי אַתָּה ה’ עֶלְיוֹן עַל כָּל הָאָרֶץ
מְאֹד נַעֲלֵיתָ עַל כָּל אֱלֹהִים:
For You, Hashem, are supreme above all the earth — כִּי־אַתָּה ה’ עֶלְיוֹן עַל־כָּל־הָאָרֶץ and none can question your justice. You are exalted on high far above all powers — מְאֹד נַעֲלֵיתָ עַל־כָּל־אֱלֹהִים because whatever power they have emanates from You.
(י) אֹהֲבֵי ה’ שִׂנְאוּ רָע 
שֹׁמֵר נַפְשׁוֹת חֲסִידָיו 
מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים יַצִּילֵם:
O lovers of Hashem, if You love Him, you must hate evil — אֹהֲבֵי ה’ שִׂנְאוּ רָע Don’t pity the evil doers and don’t be afraid of them because He guards the lives of His devout ones — שֹׁמֵר נַפְשׁוֹת חֲסִידָיו . He rescues them from the hand of the wicked — מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים יַצִּילֵם .
(יא) אוֹר זָרֻעַ לַצַּדִּיק 
וּלְיִשְׁרֵי לֵב שִׂמְחָה:
Light is sown for the righteous — אוֹר זָרֻעַ לַצַּדִּיק , and joy is sown for the upright of heart — וּלְיִשְׁרֵי־לֵב שִׂמְחָה to be harvested in the time of Mashiach. They will reap much more than they have sown.
(יב) שִׂמְחוּ צַדִּיקִים בַּה’ 
וְהוֹדוּ לְזֵכֶר קָדְשׁוֹ:
Be joyful, O you righteous, for you are immersed in serving Him and recognize the judgments of Hashem — שִׂמְחוּ צַדִּיקִים בַּה’ , and give thanks at the mention of His Holy Name — וְהוֹדוּ לְזֵכֶר קָדְשׁוֹ for He has guaranteed that the bliss of the promised future will surely prevail.
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses in this mizmor are listed below.
א – רד”ק, המאירי, בן רמוך, רשר”ה
ב – מלבי”ם, ספורנו
ג – רד”ק, מלבי”ם, ספורנו, אבן יחייא, רשר”ה
ד – רד”ק, ספורנו, רשר”ה
ה – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, ספורנו, מלבי”ם, אבן יחייא
ו – אבן עזרא, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ז – רד”ק, מצודות, נר לרגלי
ח – רד”ק, מצודות,
ט – רד”ק, מלבי”ם, אלשיך, ספורנו, נר לרגלי
י – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, מצודות, ספורנו, נר לרגלי, רשר”ה
יא – אבן עזרא, רד”ק, ספורנו
יב – רד”ק, נר לרגלי, רשר”ה