Exalting and Exulting
Holy God, I affirm that You are good, full of love, and delight for me to call upon You.
Read PSALM 99:1-9
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Fear him, you saints, and you will then / have nothing else to fear; / make you his service your delight; / your wants shall be his care” (N. Tate and N. Brady).
Ponder the refrain of this short psalm (3,5,9). Compare your own thoughts about God’s holiness with the qualities which the psalm actually celebrates. The psalm mentions God’s holy mountain (Zion); it calls God’s people “Jacob,” reminding me of a deeply flawed person; it speaks of God seated between the cherubim, but also of his footstool. The construction of the ark of the covenant with its mercy seat (called in the TNIV “atonement cover”) is explained in Exodus 25:17-22. The atonement rituals themselves are depicted in Leviticus 16. Perhaps the most striking verse in this psalm is v. 8. I remember how our readings in Jeremiah have provided examples of the forgiving and punishing love of Israel’s God. Many unhelpful contrasts are made between “law” and “gospel,” between God’s law and his love. I think of God’s law as actually in the gospel just as the tables of the law were in the ark under the mercy seat. Throughout all the judgments set out in the book of Jeremiah, the heart of God yearns with love for his dear child Ephraim. God’s holiness is not that which makes it hard for him to forgive but that which makes it hard for him to punish! How do I need to know, today, God’s forgiving love, his loving forgiveness?
Finally, let the words “The Lord reigns” reverberate in your heart. They are a reason not just for quaking and trembling, but also for the deliberate exercise of a praising trust. Think of your own current uncertainties and trials, your dark times and hard journeys. I think of parts of the world (including my own society) where chaos, violence, apathy and futurelessness seem to be the order of the day. I ask for God’s help and grace to make a difference.
What does it mean to you to know that, in spite of the evil, chaos and suffering all around, the Lord reigns? Praise God for that.
Sovereign Lord, I praise You that You do, indeed, reign over all in power, love, mercy and grace. Help me make a difference for You in my world.
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