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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 99

Verses 1-3

Because the God who reigns is so great, everyone should tremble in reverential fear. In the temple, God dwelt between the cherubim (1 Kings 6:23-28; cf. Psalms 80:1). The cherubim were representations of angelic beings that symbolically guarded the holiness of God. "Holy" means different. In particular, God is holy in that He is different from man whom sin saturates.

Verses 1-5

1. The holiness of the King 99:1-5

Verses 1-9

Psalms 99

This royal psalm calls on God’s people to praise Him for His holiness and because He answers prayer.

Verses 4-5

God is worthy of worship because He loves justice, equity, and righteousness. These are manifestations of His holiness.

Psalms 99:5 is a double refrain. The statement, "Holy is He," repeats the end of Psalms 99:3. The whole fifth verse occurs again-with slight modifications-in Psalms 99:9.

Verses 6-9

2. The mercy of the King 99:6-9

One might suppose that such a holy God would not tolerate any sinner. However, God tempers holiness with mercy. Even though the Israelites sinned, God still answered the prayers of their intercessors, specifically Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. The picture of God speaking to His people from the pillar of cloud graphically combines the concepts of God’s holiness and mercy. However, God was not so merciful that He failed to discipline the sinners. This balanced view of God gives hope for the future when sinners will stand before Him. Therefore, God’s people should exalt Him and worship Him at His holy mountain-Zion. [Note: See Allen, Rediscovering Prophecy, pp. 69-84.]

"Worship is an act of submission to his kingship and is a proper response to his awe-inspiring presence." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 638.]

The prospect of a perfectly holy God ruling over sinful humans in undeviating justice is a terrifying one. This psalm helps the godly appreciate how God will reign. He will do so as He has dealt with His people throughout their history, namely: by extending mercy without compromising His holiness.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 99". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-99.html. 2012.