Our Amazing God
“Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness / Bow down before him, his glory proclaim” (John Monsell, 1811-1875).
Read PSALM 99:1-9
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“God rules: there’s something to shout over” (97:1). “God rules: on your toes, everybody” (1). The Message paraphrase vividly calls us to acknowledge who is in charge!!
It was common in the ancient Near East for different ethnic groups to believe that they each had their own god. Not so the God of Israel! He was not just the god of the Israelites; he was God! And he cared for all the nations, not just Israel. The refrain “He is holy” (3,5) reminds his worshipers that he is distinctive and separate from all human beings everywhere. He is king.
The Lord our God–the God of Jacob (Israel)–is characterized by “justice” and “equity” (4). These two words are frequently used together in the Old Testament to declare what God is like. “Justice” in the Hebrew sense includes not only judgment and punishment, but equally the protection of people from harm and oppression. God’s judgment works not only for the oppressor but also for the oppressed. He judges with a fairness beyond the ability of any human judge. He is the final arbiter of human rights. “Equity,” or “righteousness,” was what was deemed to be the norm, the ideal, in human relationships and especially in the covenant relationship between humankind and God. When Jesus commanded his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount to “be perfect … as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48), he was reiterating a command that runs right through the Old Testament, that God’s people should live lives of the very same righteousness, and so be a light to the Gentiles.
Moses, Aaron and Samuel come as a bit of a surprise, but they are introduced to testify to another of God’s qualities. When they called on him, he answered them, and when Israel sinned, God forgave Israel. Perhaps the psalmist has in mind the wonderful intercession of Moses after the incident of the golden calf (Exod. 32:30–33:23). God–our God–comes to us with surprises.
How is God’s holiness expressed in verses 1-3? How has God’s righteousness been worked out “in Jacob” (4)? How can love for holiness be seen in your life?
Sovereign Lord, I long to live a life reflecting Your righteousness. By Your Spirit, teach me how to embrace and reflect Your holiness.