God is the God of everyone and calls everyone to rejoice in him. The Bible clearly teaches that from beginning to end, but people have often had trouble accepting it.
At one point, God confided in Abraham that he intended to investigate Sodom’s evil. Abraham knew well their wickedness, but prayed for whatever righteous people lived there, declaring, “Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:19).
But the nation of Israel ignored God for centuries as they pursued other gods. Then, purged of that sin, they came to regard God as exclusively their own.
And other nations had their own gods, so why should they acknowledge the God of Israel?
Similarly today, atheists and agnostics object when Christians claim that God’s standards apply to everyone. But they do. Those standards require everyone to rejoice in God.
For example, Psalm 97 starts with a call for all the earth to rejoice, including distant coastlands. That’s all the earth, not just Israel. Not just the people God especially chose for himself.
Then immediately it invokes clouds and darkness that surround the throne. These clouds, along with the imagery in the next couple of verses, recall God’s appearance at Sinai and foreshadow descriptions of the final judgment. Frightening as these images can be, they don’t contradict the call to rejoice. They provide the reason for rejoicing.
All fall short of God’s glory. All sin. God hates sin and intends to destroy it. That’s uncomfortable, but anyone at all who chooses not to cling to sin will not suffer destruction with it. As God destroys their sin, they see his glory.
The sinful world sees darkness and gloom, but “Light is shed upon the righteous and joy on the upright in heart. Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous, and praise his holy name” (verses 11-12).