English Basic Explanation - Chapter 97
This chapter of Tehillim draws a stark contrast between the fate of the wicked nations and that of Am Yisrael at the onset of the Messianic era. The Psalmist speaks in very dramatic and frightening terms of the devastation God will bring upon the enemy nations, describing fire and lightening (verses 3-4) and even the "melting" of mountains (verse 5). The people of Zion, by contrast, will rejoice and celebrate the arrival of the long-awaited redemption (verse 8).
This chapter concludes by addressing the Sadikim, the righteous men of the world, exhorting them to continue their opposition to evil and promising them great reward and eternal joy (verses 10-12). When we contemplate the different fates that will befall the pious and the wicked on the final day of judgment, we should naturally and immediately appreciate the value of righteousness and resist the pressures and temptations to join forces with the wicked. In contrast to the "cloud and fog" with which God will punish the sinners (verse 2), the righteous will be granted a brilliant "light" that is "planted" for them in the next world (verse 10). This contrast should inspire us to abhor evil and recommit ourselves to the devoted service of God ("Ohave Hashem Sin'u Ra" – verse 10).
This Psalm thus urges us to recall that the success of the wicked is only temporary, as in the Messianic age they will be condemned to destruction, while the righteous will enjoy God's protection and blessing.