OUR GOD REIGNS
Lord, You reign regardless of who believes it.
Read PSALM 99
1 The Lord reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
2 Great is the Lord in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
4 The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
5 Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy.
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel was among those who called on his name;
they called on the Lord
and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
8 Lord our God,
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.[a]
9 Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for the Lord our God is holy.
a. Psalm 99:8 Or God, / an avenger of the wrongs done to them
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘One of the paradoxes of the Old Testament is that the God of the entire world chooses a particular nation and a particular city’ (RJ Clifford, Psalms 73–150, 2003, Abingdon Press, p132).
This psalm presents God as king and calls on all people to worship Him because He is holy. He is presented as king of the world (1–3), king of Israel (4,5) and king of the individual (6–9). Three times we are reminded that God is holy. Holiness involves God’s power, but it also has a moral aspect. He loves justice. His reign – in contrast to that of earthly kings and leaders – is characterized by righteousness, justice, equity, and fairness. The natural reaction to such a God is to praise His name and ‘worship at His footstool’ (5).
The reminder of what God did in the days of Moses, Aaron, and Samuel gives the people confidence that God can and will act in the same way in their day. As these three leaders are often seen as intercessors for a sinful people, there is also a reminder to the people that for all their privileged status they are still sinners. It is a reminder to them and to us that ‘Those who have cried “Our God is holy” know the need of a righteous mediator who by his pastoral rule and by his intimacy with God will maintain them in the sacred bond. The church finds this role fulfilled by Christ (Heb 3–10)’ (JH Eaton, Psalms, 1974, p240).
Verse 8 is an important reminder of a point which Israel – in Joshua’s day, as throughout their history – often learned the hard way: that God’s holiness is a two-edged sword. God forgives – but He also punishes sin. ‘It is this co-existence of God’s judgment and grace, so incomprehensible to the human mind, this insight into the real nature of a God who takes sin just as seriously as the forgiveness of sins, which is the innermost core of God’s holiness’ (A Weiser, The Psalms, 1962, p644).
Forgiveness of sins is at the center of our faith, so how do we avoid the danger of not taking sin seriously enough?
Lord, Your people have the utmost respect for Your consummate holiness, and we believe You are unapproachable apart from Jesus the Messiah.