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,(Ps. 99:1-9 NIV)
you answered them;
you were to Israel a forgiving God,
though you punished their misdeeds.
Exalt the Lord our God
and worship at his holy mountain,
for the Lord our God is holy.
The Psalmist exclaims that the Lord reigns. The appropriate response is that the nations should tremble and the earth shake. The Lord is enthroned between the cherubim. The image is of the lid of the ark of the covenant (the mercy seat) positioned in the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle or temple. The ark of the covenant signified the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. The ark of the covenant was known as the Lord’s footstool. The holiness of the Lord demands our attention, praise and worship. To worship the Lord is the right thing to do. To fail to worship the Lord is sin. The sovereign rule of God should inspire all people to bow down and worship, yet the nations rebel and fail to give the Lord what He is due. God’s work of creation and His work of redemption declares greatness and holiness. The redemption that God procured by the way of the cross was an act of righteousness and holiness. The righteousness of the Lord was upheld and on holy ground God offers pardon and forgiveness.
The Lord’s work and rule is no different from His character. God is holy and all His works are holy.
God has been with His people in the past. He spoke to Moses, Aaron and Samuel. These men are called priests but not in the specific sense that Aaron was a priest. They were servants who interceded with God on behalf of the people and God heard their prayers and spoke to them. They were faithful to the Lord and obeyed His word. The Lord answered the prayers of the intercessors by sowing mercy and favour to His people and He forgave their sin. Our intercessor today is the Lord Jesus Christ, he intercedes on our behalf before the Father in Heaven. The Lord disciplines His people and punishes them for their sins. The Lord’s punishment is much less than what we deserve and His mercy is greater than we can possibly fully comprehend.
The Psalmist calls on all of us to exalt the Lord and to worship the Lord, for God is holy. We need mercy and the constant intercession of Christ if we are to survive coming into the presence of the Lord. It is an awesome privilege to be able to appear before the Lord, but it is a deadly thing because of the holiness of the Lord. Our words and attitudes are never quite correct as they leave us, but every word we utter in prayer and worship is mediated by the Lord Jesus Christ.
The nations around us will take their lead from the church. How does our appearance before the Lord shape the views of the nations? How might we expect the world to bow before the holy God if we fail to honour the Lord?
O Lord our God, we thank You that You have spoken to us through Your word. Help us to respond to Your holiness, to exalt Your name in our prayers, by our attitude and through our behaviour. Lord forgive our sins and help us to be obedient to all that You have revealed, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen