Psalm 99: A Psalm of Worship

Do me a favor and please read Psalm 99.

Our psalm today is one that encourages the reader to praise and worship God and the writer begins by establishing who God is. By saying that he reigns and all the nations tremble is to proclaim that God is higher, mightier, and stronger than all the other gods. All the nations should fear him because they can’t fight against him…and to say that he “sits enthroned between the cherubim” is to acknowledge God’s presence in this world (this is a comment concerning the ark of the covenant).

After establishing who God is and his power over all things (vs 1-3) the psalmist goes into a few attributes of God and what he desires of his people. The mentioning of God loving “justice” and establishing “equity” is a call to the worshipper to do those very things. It seems odd to have to mention that we should be just and upright in this world – but that should remind the reader (and worshipper) that those were NOT common. What this also does is remind the reader/worshipper that they should do those very things.

Our closing verses (6-9) are a reminder that these words aren’t made up…that this call to worship God is fact. By naming Moses, Aaron, and Samuel the writer is pointing back into history – but what they are also doing is showing that God interacts with his people. We see God “speaks” and that God was present in that pillar of a cloud when he led his people out of Egypt (vs 7). We read in verse 8 that he “answers them” which means he interacts and responds when they came to him. We can even draw back to verse 5 and 1 with the mention of the “footstool” and “cherubim” which means that God is present and we can draw near to him.

So what does all of this mean for you and I?

On one hand this is a beautiful reminder to worship God. That the Lord is not only real, that he is not only above all other nations and the earth itself, but that he is good, right, and justice. And that we have justice and righteousness and goodness not because we created them but because God gives them. And yet this is also a proclamation of the hope and work of Christ.

Everything about this psalm looks to the future of the Messiah. Why do all the nations tremble? Because Jesus Christ reigns above all. To sit between the “cherubim” is to state the presence of God is upon them – and who sits there? Jesus. Who not only establishes justice and equity but who loves it, lives it, and fulfills it for us? Jesus Christ. We read that Moses and Aaron and Samuel called upon God – but we can expand that and say that WE ALL called upon God too – and how did God answer? Jesus Christ. How did God forgive Israel for their misdeeds AND the rest of the world? Jesus Christ.

The answer to all life’s questions? Jesus Christ, the Son of God and second in the Trinity.

Ancient Israel was a time of chaos and fear. There was war and then peace…then more war. Nations attacked other nations, kings over-threw other kings and even families fought internally for power and Israel was no exception. And even though this was going on Israel still was encouraged to worship God. And simply because this was the world’s reality didn’t negate the fact that they were still called to worship.

We don’t know the backstory of this psalm. This could have been penned while the city was under attack. This could have been written while men were off fighting some nation or defending their territory. There could have been a lull in faith among the people and so writing this could have been an encouragement and reminder. We simply don’t know the history and yet the psalmist tells us that the hope and answer to all of life is placed upon God.

To worship God is to know your past, present, and future. To worship God is to know that he reigns over all things, that when people call to him he answers (vs 6). That God doesn’t simply sit up in heaven but he speaks and guides us towards his ways (vs 7-8). And that God forgives sins (vs 8). To worship God is to know that everything he has ever done has been to point to the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

The answer to all life’s questions? Jesus Christ, the Son of God and second in the Trinity.

As you read this psalm I encourage you to remember that everything in life is about Christ – and Christ made everything about you. One day there will be a massive trembling among the nations for when Christ comes again the earth will shake and sin and evil will be no more. He does this to firmly establish justice, equity, and righteousness over all but he also does this for you too. And just as this is a call to worship psalm – we must do just that. Worship God. Remember all that he has ever done, what Christ has done for you now, and the time to come.

As you look at the world today, as you reflect on who God is and the hope you have…the psalmist encourages you to worship God. So worship God. Exalt him, approach his throne with mercy and hope, and give thanks for his complete forgiveness.

Worship God.

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