Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
The title of Psalm 97 speaks of the restoration of the land. Augustine takes the restoration to refer to the time of resurrection, when "all those things which are sung of in the Psalm were done" (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335810, par. 2). Verse one speaks of God as king, bringing joy to the earth. Augustine recognizes that the Church is subject to storms and battering of opposition, but, like waves against an island, the opposition does not move the Church. Verse two continues to speak of the conflict. The Lord in judgment is surrounded by darkness (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335820, par. 4). He will judge by fire (v. 3). Augustine does not take this to be the eternal fire of the final judgment. This goes before God's coming, while the eternal judgment comes later (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335830, par. 5). Verse five specifies that the lightning of God goes out into the world. This is how God stops his enemies. Augustine allegorizes this with the image of a cloud of preachers from which come lightning bolts of truth (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335845, par. 6).
The presence of the Lord is very intimidating. Verse five has the hills melting. Augustine sees these as "every high thing raising itself against God" (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335855, par. 7). The image of verse six is God's presence declaring his glory. The whole church makes this confession. Augustine takes it to be an embodiment of God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335871, par. 8).
In contrast, verse seven speaks of the futility of idol worship. The living God receives glory, but the dead stones of idolatry have no glory (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335881, par. 9). Augustine also points out that the idolaters themselves will accept honor from worshipers. However, among Christians the leaders do not accept glory, but turn it to God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335819, par. 10). Glory belongs only to God, not to humans. Satan may try to obtain honor and glory, but Augustine sees this pursuit also as useless (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335910, par. 10).
Verse eight speaks of the rejoicing we have when we realize the angels worship God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335920, par. 11). Augustine sees this as the pattern in Acts 10 when the Holy Spirit comes upon the household of Cornelius. The worship of God began, which showed Peter and his associates that God accepted the Gentiles. This brought joy (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335930, par. 11).
The joy of the people of God comes from his exaltation (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335935, par. 12). He is far above all the other gods. His people, in light of God's glory, love him and hate evil (V. 10). The disctinction between our natural desires and God's priorities is huge. Our response is to deny ourselves and affirm God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335950, par. 13). Even if we are threatened by loss, even loss of life, the Christians can trust that God will guard them in eternity.
Verse 11 speaks of a light, raised up by God, for the righteous. Augustine takes this as yet another strong assurance that God will keep his people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335971, par. 15). Whatever trials our world has for the godly will cause no eternal harm. This makes the righteous glad (v. 12). Augustine reminds Christians to look to their eternal hope in God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 335996, par. 17).