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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 99

The LORD reigns, literally: the LORD is King. This is mentioned for the fourth time (Psa 93:1; Psa 96:10; Psa 97:1; Psa 99:1). He has accepted His royal rule (Rev 19:6) and sits on His glorious throne (Mt 25:31). Now Christ is not only seated on His Father’s throne (Rev 3:21), He is now also seated on His own throne along with the overcomers, the remnant. He is truthfully “the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1Tim 6:15).

The intercession of the remnant through Moses, Aaron and Samuel (Psa 99:6) is answered and is followed by praise from the remnant (cf. Psa 50:15). Now that the kingdom has come, the Name of the LORD is hallowed (Eze 36:22-23).

Verses 1-3

The LORD Reigns and Is Holy


The psalm is a song of praise following the description of Christ’s reign on earth (Psa 99:1). The roles are reversed. Israel enjoys the blessing, the nations must tremble. From the building of the tabernacle and the ark, the LORD “is enthroned [above] the cherubim” who stand on the mercy seat on the ark (Exo 25:20; 1Sam 4:4; 2Sam 6:2). The cherubim are always mentioned in connection with the throne of God, in connection with His government (Gen 3:24; Isa 37:16; Eze 10:1-20). The ark with the cherubim stood in the hidden part of the holy of holies. The cherubim, the guardians of His holiness, have remained hidden. Now He rules openly in Zion, which is Jerusalem. It befits the earth to tremble before that King.

He “is great” (Psa 99:2). He is great in Himself. It is not a matter of comparison, which then shows that He is the greatest. There is simply no one to compare to Him. He is great. Israel knows that God is great (Deu 10:17). Now all nations must also acknowledge that.

He is immeasurably, boundlessly great in power, love, justice and in all His features. In that indescribable greatness He dwells “in Zion” which He has chosen as His dwelling place on earth. He is also “exalted above all the peoples”. All nations are subject to Him. He is “great” to His people and “exalted” to the nations.

The psalmist addresses the LORD directly in the first line of Psa 99:3. He says to Him that it is appropriate that they “praise Your great and awesome name”. His Name is the expression of all that He is. His Name encompasses His Being and all His features. The psalmist concludes by stating: “Holy is He.” He is absolutely set apart from all that He has made. It does not mean that He is not involved in it, but He is not part of anything. He is holy in relation to all that is.

The hallowing or profaning of the Name of the LORD has to do with the condition of His people. If the people are not doing well, then the Name of the LORD, His covenant name, will be profaned. People will say: ‘It is the LORD’s people, and yet they had to leave the land.’ Conversely, the Name of the LORD is hallowed when Israel is restored (cf. Eze 36:20-28).

Verses 4-5

The LORD Executes Justice and Is Holy


Not only the Name of the King is to be praised, but also “the strength of the King” (Psa 99:4; Mt 28:18). His strength is not expressed in a capricious, arbitrary exercise of power. His power is exercised in righteousness, that is, in a just manner. That exercise is not done out of Self-protection, but because He “loves justice” (cf. Psa 45:7). With Him, power, love, and justice go together. This is a combination of features that no earthly ruler has ever had.

His justice, the way He rules, is “equity”. “Equity” means according to a fair, just, balanced judgment. His government is completely fair to all, there is nothing to be questioned by anyone, everyone accepts His government because it is absolutely just and embedded in love for His God, His creatures and His creation.

This justice is now found nowhere. Instead of equitable government, there is so often corrupt government. When He rules, He establishes that equitable government on the whole earth, using Israel as an example. He has “executed justice and righteousness in Jacob”. The people are called “Jacob”, not ‘Israel’. This emphasizes the election of Jacob by God. This election cannot be undone by the unfaithfulness the people have often shown.

Then the call sounds to “exalt the LORD our God” (Psa 99:5). That call applies first and foremost to Israel, for only they can speak of “our God”. To praise is to speak of with appreciation and praise. It is to honor and exalt. This is done by worshiping “at His footstool”, by which is meant the ark of the covenant in the temple or the temple itself (1Chr 28:2; Psa 132:7).

On the footstool rest the feet of a king. Worshiping at it means making the deepest possible bow, expressing the deepest reverence. While this will be done primarily by God’s people, it will also be done by the nations (Zec 14:16). This attitude toward Him is appropriate, for “holy is He”. This verse is a refrain, which has already sounded in Psa 99:3 and with some changes also appears in Psa 99:9.

Verses 6-9

The LORD Hears and Is Holy


The LORD is the same King in the realm of peace as He was in the days of Moses and of Aaron and of Samuel (Psa 99:6). Moses and Aaron have been “among His priests” the men through whom He has interacted with His people. In a strict sense, Moses was not a priest, but he was one who served God in a priestly way through his intercessions. Samuel is mentioned by name among others who have called on His Name for the benefit of His people.

All three cried out to the LORD and He answered them (Exo 17:10-13; Exo 32:11-14; Num 12:13; Num 16:19-22; Num 21:7; 1Sam 7:5; 8-9; 1Sam 12:16-18; 23; cf. Jer 15:1). They did not call out to Him in vain. The calling out to Him happened because of the people’s aberrations. Based on their calling, God spared His people and brought them into the land and helped them there. Thus, God will give the final blessing to His people on the basis of the intercession of the Lord Jesus.

The LORD spoke to His people “in the pillar of cloud”. This is a speaking not with words, but by His guidance. He went before them in a pillar of cloud and showed them the way (Psa 99:7; Exo 13:21). Moses, Aaron and Samuel “kept His testimonies and the statute that He gave them”. They listened to Him and therefore He listened to them.

The psalmist again addresses the LORD directly in Psa 99:8. He calls Him again, as in Psa 99:5, the “LORD our God”. That is how they know Him, God is their God. He knows that God has heard the three men mentioned because He was “a forgiving God to them”. God was able to forgive the sins of the people after Moses, Aaron and Samuel intervened with God as priests for the people.

Thereby He also had to exercise “vengeance” over “their [evil] deeds”. The wrong, sinful deeds they have done, God does not condone. He can forgive on the basis of the work of His Son which He had already foreseen in the Old Testament (cf. Rom 3:25). Yet sinful deeds result in God punishing them.

God’s acts of mercy have been manifested in the past with regard to Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. This leads the psalmist to call once more for the LORD to be praised, to sing His praises, and to honor Him (Psa 99:9; Psa 99:5). The place he designates for this purpose is “at His holy mountain”. There they are to worship, make themselves small before Him, thus emphasizing His greatness.

The psalmist concludes by once again professing the holiness of the LORD: “For holy is the LORD our God.” This is always the reason for praise and worship. He, with Whom they are connected, is “the LORD”, Yahweh, the God of the covenant He has made with them, allowing them to call Him “our God”.

At the same time, He is “holy”, completely separated from evil and free from any connection with sin. For people who are naturally depraved sinners, this makes the privilege of being brought into contact with Him unspeakably great. This cannot but produce great thankfulness, which is expressed in eternal praise and worship. Each time of the three times it is said that He is holy (Psa 99:3; 5; 9) it is associated with the call to praise the LORD.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 99". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-99.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.