Tuesday, August 22, 2023

2023.08.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 99

Read Psalm 99

Questions from the Scripture text: With what declaration does the Psalm begin (Psalm 99:1a)? Who, then, should do what (verse 1b)? Where, specifically, does He do this (verse 1c)? What, then, responds in what way (verse 1d)? Among whom is YHWH great (Psalm 99:2a)? What relation does He have to whom else (verse 2b)? What must these do to what (Psalm 99:3a)? With what declaration does section of the Psalm conclude (verse 3b)? What does Psalm 99:4 now call YHWH (verse 4a)? What attribute does it praise? How does this attribute relate to what other attribute? What has He established (verse 4b)? What has He executed (verse 4c)? Among whom? What is Jacob to do to Him (Psalm 99:5a)? Owning Him to be Whom/what to them? What are they to do and where (verse 5b)? With what declaration does this section of the Psalm conclude (verse 5c)? Who were among which office (Psalm 99:6a)? And who was among which (verse 6b)? What did these all do (verse 6c)? And what did YHWH do? How did He answer Moses and Aaron, specifically (Psalm 99:7a)? And by this sustaining Word, what did they keep (verse 7b)? Again (Psalm 99:6c), what did YHWH do (Psalm 99:8a)? Showing that He bears what relation to His people? In order to be “our” God, what else did He have to be (verse 8b)? Even though He forgave the guilt of their sin, what did YHWH do (verse 8c)? What ought we to do in response (Psalm 99:9a)? By doing what, specifically (verse 9b)? Where? How does verse 9c conclude this section like Psalm 99:3b and Psalm 99:5c, but emphasizing the covenantal relation throughout the Psalm? 

How has the holy LORD ordained to obtain praise? Psalm 99 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the holy LORD has ordained to obtain praise by dwelling among His people, ruling His people, and hearing His people’s prayers in mercy.  

The main point of the Psalm isn’t difficult to find: He is holy (Psalm 99:3b) … He is holy (Psalm 99:5c) … YHWH our God is holy (Psalm 99:9c). He is the thrice holy God—an obvious embellishment upon the terser version of that glorious announcement in Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8. The main command is tied directly to it: let them praise (Psalm 99:3a) … Exalt (Psalm 99:5a) and worship (verse 5b) … Exalt (Psalm 99:9a) and worship (verse 9b)! The amazing thing through the Psalm is how this holy God has presented Himself for praise: by drawing near to His people on earth. Even as Isaiah continued to hear, “The whole earth is full of His glory.”

Dwelling among His people. YHWH sits enthroned, where He dwells upon the cherubim (Psalm 99:1). This is not unexpected. Even the earth quaking at Him is not a surprise (verse 1d). The surprise comes in Psalm 99:2a where the location of YHWH’s greatness is identified as Zion, David’s hill in Jerusalem. Those are the cherubim described in Psalm 99:1—the ones upon the ark?! Indeed, His dwelling among His people elevates them far more than geologic altitude ever could. For He is “high above all the peoples.” He turns Zion into the high mountain that fills the earth, and all the peoples “praise Your great and awesome Name” (Psalm 99:3a) when they see Who He is in Zion. The Holy One dwelling among His people. This has come to be all the more true in the Word Who became flesh and tabernacled among us. Jesus truly is “Immanuel,” God-with-us.

Ruling His people. When we learn that the Christ is the God-man, any question of to whom “King” refers is answered. It’s Jesus. In Psalm 99:4a (and again in Psalm 99:8a–b) YHWH exalts His simplicity: the fact that He is all of His attributes in perfect infinitude, and none of them ever contradict. His strength, love, and justice are all one in the fact that “the King’s strength loves the judgment.” The phrase is difficult to translate from the Hebrew into English because of the way the words are put together, but the message is clear: His power, love, and justice are all of a single, whole, perfect piece. 

Every time He deals uprightly with His people (Psalm 99:4b–c), which is all the time, He is displaying this glorious reality about Himself: His power loves justice. Indeed, the King in Zion is not so much in the palace as in the holy of holies. That is where His throne is, which means that His people could gather all the way to the footstool of the King to worship (Psalm 99:5b)! 

Hearing His people. The repeated “He answered them” of Psalm 99:6c and “You answered them” of v8a gives the sub-theme of the unit in Psalm 99:6-9. How amazing that earth-shaking, reigning Creator-God listens to the voices of men! Moses, Aaron, and Samuel are heroic figures, but what they brought to the table was neediness. They called upon YHWH, and He answered them. It is by His answering (Psalm 99:6c) and speaking (Psalm 99:7a) that all testimony-keeping and ordinance-keeping came. 

Not only does He answer the prayers of creatures; He answers the prayers of sinners! The disciplining care and providence of the Lord to His people are expressions of love. There is no tension within God! Every time He has answered His people then, or answers you now dear Christian, He is presenting Himself to us as “God-Who-Forgives.”

Indeed, He declares this in that refrain throughout the Psalm: “YHWH our God.” This wonderful phrase appears four times in the Psalm, but three of them are in the final two verses, as the praise of the Psalm crescendos in wonder. YHWH has joined Himself to us as our own covenant God! He is infinitely worthy of praise in Himself, but here is how He has most provoked us to exalt Hm and worship Him: He has given us to know the Holy, Holy, Holy God as “YHWH our God”! 

How has YHWH come to dwell with you? What does He show about Himself as He rules you? Who gets to call on His Name now like Moses did? What is He showing when He lets you call Him your own covenant God?

Sample prayer:  Lord, indeed You reign over all. But, You display that reign especially in the assembly of Your people. You have come into our midst in Christ, and now by Your Spirit. And You gather us up into the midst of glory by our union with Christ. How righteously You rule us! How forgivingly You hear and answer our prayers! So, grant unto us the help of Your Spirit, so that we may praise Your great and awesome Name, and worship at Your footstool, and call upon Your Name, and exalt and worship You at Your holy hill. Receive us there, through Christ, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH99A “The LORD God Reigns on High”

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