HOLY IS THE LORD

Opening Prayer

Thank you, Lord God for making yourself known to me and for giving me countless reasons to worship you. Thank you for your Word that teaches me to worship you in spirit and in truth.

Read PSALM 99

Psalm 99

The Lord reigns,
    let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
    let the earth shake.
Great is the Lord in Zion;
    he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
    he is holy.

The King is mighty, he loves justice—
    you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
    what is just and right.
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his footstool;
    he is holy.

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.
He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud;
    they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.

Lord our God,
    you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
    though you punished their misdeeds.[a]
Exalt the Lord our God
    and worship at his holy mountain,
    for the Lord our God is holy.

Footnotes

  1. 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.

Meditate

Enable us, Lord, to measure our public worship against the standard set in this psalm.

Think Further

The dominant theme of this little hymn is the holiness of God (vv. 3, 5, 9). Everything in it serves to illustrate and emphasize this characteristic of Israel’s God. Although the divine nature has been revealed to Israel specifically – Moses, Aaron, and Samuel are singled out as bearers of the revelation of his character – it is also available for ‘all the nations’ (vv. 2, 3) and they are summoned to join the song of praise and adoration.

The second stanza (vv. 4, 5) connects the core divine attribute of holiness with justice, equity, and what is right, pointing to the fact that God’s nature has practical and societal consequences and that to worship him in truth must result in a way of life which mirrors his character. This is, of course, the constant theme of Israel’s prophets, who demanded that splendid public worship in the temple must have social consequences in ‘what is just and right’ (v. 4). Bereft of this, it degenerates into an empty and powerless ritual. The knowledge of God is traced to a theophany in which he spoke to the fathers ‘from the pillar of cloud,’ which resulted in their keeping ‘his statutes and the decrees he gave them’ (v. 7).

Finally, the holiness of God and the demand this makes upon his worshippers for ‘what is just and right’ (v. 4), means that human beings will inevitably be conscious of sin and failure; for this reason the psalmist rejoices that ‘you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds’ (v. 8). Weiser comments that awe and terror are combined in this hymn with joyful confidence, and he says that it is the combination of these two experiences which alone ‘produce the true note of biblical faith.’1 We should ask ourselves how our public worship measures up against this standard.

Apply

Reread the psalm, then pray the Lord’s Prayer and note the parallels.

Closing prayer

Thank you, Father, that you are the God of Scripture, of history, and of each of my days. You always have been, are now, and always will be, worthy of all praise!

Last Updated on July 7, 2024 by kingstar

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