Psalm 99 — The God who is holy

So often, when we think of God and his character, the first word that comes to mind is “love.”

And it is true.  God is love.  But here we see another aspect of his character.  His holiness.  And so while Psalm 97 says, “The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice,” Psalm 99 starts out,

The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.  (1)

Why do we tremble?  Why does the earth shake?  Because God is holy, and we are not.  Time and again, the psalmist sings about God’s holiness.  He says,

Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy.  (3)

And again,

Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.  (5)

And yet again,

Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.  (9)

It is because of his holiness, that time and again, people fell before God in fear, whether it was Moses (Exodus 3:5-6), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5), or even John (Revelation 1:17).

They knew they were not worthy to look upon God.  They knew that by rights, this holy God should destroy them because of their sin.

Yet time and again, God showed his mercy to these men and to his people.

The psalmist writes about this mercy, singing,

You were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds. (8)

Though Israel often failed to trust God, though they often defiled themselves with their sin and God punished them for it, still he never abandoned them.  He continued to extend his forgiveness to them.

And when people like Moses, Aaron, and Samuel, imperfect vessels though they were, called on God, he answered them.

The good news is that God does all of this for us.  Though God is holy, and we are not, though we fail so many times, yet God forgives us and hears us when we call.

So let us remember his holiness and his mercy both, and as the psalmist says, exalt and worship him each day.

About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください:
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