The Lord Our God Is Holy
99 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!
The King in his might loves justice.
You have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!
Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
They called to the LORD, and he answered them.
In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
they kept his testimonies
and the statute that he gave them.
O LORD our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
Exalt the LORD our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the LORD our God is holy!
Psalm 99 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Oh, my God!” We hear people say this phrase all the time. I’m old enough to remember when it began slipping into television programs in the early ’80s. The phrase had been part of the movies since the ’60s but making it to prime time was absolutely shocking. Then… well, then Believers began saying it. It is not a stretch to say this has become very commonplace among one another these days.
What happened? Where is the reverence due to God and His name even among Believers?
The first 3 verses of Psalm 99 call us to praise God’s great and awesome name. The name of God symbolizes everything about who He is and what He does. It is His character, His nature, and even His reputation. God’s name speaks to who He is completely.
But the common usage of His name has driven us to lose sight of the absolute holiness of God. The root of holiness is the idea of being set apart. For instance, an object can be considered holy and set apart only for use in a specific service or situation. If a person is set apart, which we are called to be, it is the same concept. We are set apart for a purpose and will of God alone.
God is Holy. Taking these thoughts of the root meaning of the word it describes the distance between God and man. A distance that is separating the pure and polluted. It’s the difference between eternal and His creation. The holiness of God is part of everything of who He is and what He does. It’s a holy power. A holy love. A holy wisdom. It is one part of his character.
This is an area I think we’ve lost sight of on some levels. The absolute fear and respect of our God who is holy has been sidelined. His name has become commonplace. It’s lost its value.
We’re called to sing praise to God’s goodness and holiness here in Psalm 99. Has our ability to truly praise these things been lost as we’ve settled or compromised even on the basics of His name and what it stands for?
Psalm 99 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
God is holy.
Let them praise Your great and awe-inspiring name. He is holy.Psalms 99:3 HCSB
Exalt the LORD our God; bow in worship at His footstool. He is holy.Psalms 99:5 HCSB
Exalt the LORD our God; bow in worship at His holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.Psalms 99:9 HCSB
The threefold emphasis of God’s holiness here in Psalm 99 parallels the familiar phrase we read throughout Scripture as God is described as being holy, holy, holy.
And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Hosts; His glory fills the whole earth.Isaiah 6:3 HCSB
Each of the four living creatures had six wings; they were covered with eyes around and inside. Day and night they never stop, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is coming.Revelation 4:8 HCSB
The reason this is significant is because Psalm 99 is touching on what heavenly creatures close to God’s throne already know. In both the Isaiah passage and the Revelation passage, the men writing have been caught up in heaven and are standing before God’s throne. In both instances, a heavenly creature utters the phrase, “holy, holy, holy.” What does this phrase mean?
First, it is important to understand that out of all the attributes of God holiness is probably the most difficult to understand. God is holy and we are not. Our nature is sin and His is righteousness. The attributes that we share with God are much easier to grasp than the ones that are outside our reality. It’s kind of like trying to wrap your mind around His omnipresence (being everywhere at the same time) or His omnipotence (having unlimited power). They are foreign concepts to us.
So why the repetitive holy, holy holy? This kind of expression was common in ancient Israel. Repeating a word or phrase three times illustrated intense confidence and completeness. The angelic creatures around God’s throne are enthusiastically expressing the supreme holiness of God with the threefold statement. In addition, this is an interesting concept that God chose to reveal the truth about Himself to human minds. For instance, the threefold revelation of the Godhead comes in the form of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Each plays a specific role but shares in the perfect oneness of holiness and majesty.
We have a habit of comparing ourselves to others. When we begin to understand the holiness of God, like those who were swept into His heavenly presence, we realize just how wretched and sinful we really are. We come to the conclusion that we need a Mediator to deliver us. Jesus became our sin so that we could be free to choose holiness.