Psalm 99 The LORD Our God Is Holy (1) The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! (2) The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. (3) Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he! (4) The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. (5) Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he! (6) Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the LORD, and he answered them. (7) In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. (8) O LORD our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. (9) Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the LORD our God is holy! ESV
This may be called THE SANCTUS or THE HOLY, HOLY, HOLY PSALM, for the word “holy” is the conclusion and the refrain of its three main divisions.Charles Spurgeon, English Preacher, 1834-1892
Psalm 99 is titled Praise to the LORD for His Holiness in the New King James Version. The New American Standard Bible (1995) titles it, Praise to the LORD for His Fidelity to Israel. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (a modern English translation completed in 2004) titles Psalm 99 simply, The King Is Holy.
There is no other information about this beautiful little song. But commentators point out the “triple holy.” Something that Isaiah says later.
In Isaiah 6, Isaiah sees God in all His glory in a vision and is called to a life as a prophet,
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" Isaiah 6:1-3 NKJV
You may recognize these words from the book of Revelation when John also has a vision of God on His heavenly throne.
Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty- the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come." Revelation 4:8 NLT
Therefore, this psalm is a joyous song of God’s greatness! It is a “holy” x3 in celebration of God on His throne, and what a joyous thing it is to celebrate Him in all His glory. No matter what happens here on this earth, God is on His throne. Holy, holy, holy is His Name!
The LORD is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on his throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake! The LORD sits in majesty in Jerusalem, exalted above all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name. Your name is holy! Psalm 99:1-3 NLT
Other translations say, “The LORD reigns!” In due time, all will tremble at the sight of the Lord on His throne. Believers will tremble in great adoration and excitement. Evil will tremble in fear. Creation groans for this moment when it will be released to be as it was created to be. It waits for the Lord’s return.
Whether the author is speaking of God currently on His heavenly throne or the time when He will return and be enthroned in Jerusalem, scholars are not sure. But does it matter? Maybe it’s both. He is on His throne in heaven, while at the same time, He sits enthroned within His church and within the hearts of His people. But someday, His throne will appear on earth for all to see.
Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established fairness. You have acted with justice and righteousness throughout Israel. Exalt the LORD our God! Bow low before his feet, for he is holy! Psalm 99:4-5 NLT
The Lord is a mighty King, but not as in those kings or world leaders remembered in history. He is a just and fair King!
The annals of most human governments have been written in the tears of the downtrodden, and the curses of the oppressed: the chronicles of the Lord’s kingdom are of another sort, truth shines in each line, goodness in every syllable, and justice in every letter. Glory be to the name of the King, whose gentle glory beams from between the cherubic wings.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Throughout history, kingdoms have been built on the backs of slaves and those deemed of a lower class standing, by taxing its people, and by taking land and goods with bloodshed. But it not so for the Kingdom of God. There have been times in history when men have twisted God’s Word to steal and kill and destroy to attain power for themselves. Some have claimed to do so in God’s Name. But our Father in heaven is good, and He will deal with those who misused His Name.
What does our God ask of us? It is clear.
He has shown you, O man, what is good and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 NKJV
Our God loves what is good because He is good. Our God desires justice and mercy and a humble heart for His children. We do what is right, not because that is what will save us, but as a result of being saved. Jesus’s sacrifice, His death and resurrection, saved us from our sins. He made us clean again and able to be in the presence and glory of God the Father. We are not saved by good works. But because we are saved, we are called to good works.
Moses and Aaron were among his priests; Samuel also called on his name. They cried to the LORD for help, and he answered them. He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees he gave them. O LORD our God, you answered them. You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong. Psalm 99:6-8 NLT
The psalmist goes on to remind the people of those who have gone before. Moses, Aaron, and Samuel followed God; they cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord answered. But these men also followed the Word of God. They read it; they knew it. They followed it, and they taught others about it. But they also made mistakes. Three great men of the Old Testament who are remembered for their faith and standing with the Lord were sinners, yet God loved them still. King David, whose sins are listed in the Bible for generations to read about and judge him for, was loved and protected and cared for by his loving Father in heaven. David had a deep and meaningful relationship with God. We know this from many of his psalms and we know this from the stories of God’s provision and protection over David’s life.
Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy mountain in Jerusalem, for the LORD our God is holy! Psalm 99:9 NLT
For no other reason but because He is holy. Holy, holy, holy is our God and for that reason, we will bend our knee, we will trust during difficult times, we will suffer for our beliefs, and we will stand tall until our names are read from the Book of Life.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Holy, holy, holy! Lord God almighty! Early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee. Holy, holy, holy merciful and mighty! God in three persons, blessed Trinity! Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee, Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; all the cherubim and seraphim are falling down before Thee, which wert and art and evermore shalt be. Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide Thee, though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see, only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee, perfect in power, in love, and purity Holy, holy, holy! Lord God almighty! All thy works shall praise Thy name in earth, and sky and sea. Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! You are God in three persons, blessed Trinity! (Reginal Heber 1826)
Father in heaven, holy, holy, holy is your name. We praise you and we lift your name on high. You are good and faithful and merciful. Your glory shines throughout time. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for sending Jesus to save us. Thank you for your word and for your promises. Help us to stand up for what we believe today and to love those around us. Amen.