Psalm 99

1 The Lord reigns;
Let the peoples tremble!
He dwells between the cherubim;
Let the earth be moved!

2 The Lord is great in Zion,
And He is high above all the peoples.

3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name—
He is holy.

The King’s strength also loves justice;
You have established equity;
You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

5 Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His footstool—
He is holy.

Moses and Aaron were among His priests,
And Samuel was among those who called upon His name;
They called upon the Lord, and He answered them.

7 He spoke to them in the cloudy pillar;
They kept His testimonies and the ordinance He gave them.

You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.

9 Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His holy hill;
For the Lord our God is holy.

Though the Hebrew text of this psalm has no heading, early Jewish tradition (i.e.,the Septuagint) attributes it to David. — Wechsler, page 236.


The little company of believing Hebrews as they press through the wilderness of trouble and anguish see in vision Revelation 4 and 5, and here sing of that expected day-break when Jehovah Messiah, bearing in His hand the title-deeds of the earth (Revelation 5:5), will ascend His throne, to which are attached the cherubim uttering their cry of Holy, Holy, Holly, and when angels and men and the creation will fall in worship at His feet. …

In this song they invite all nations to unite with Israel in worshiping the King. The cherubim in Revelation 4 announce the Kingdom and its judgments with a thrice repeated “holy,” They here appear (v.1); and their three-fold cry is given in verses 3, 5, and 9. This triple “holy” marks the three stanzas of the psalm. The first (v.3) states the reason why the nations should praise Messiah; the second (v.5), why Israel should praise Him; and the third (v.9) repeats the motive why all nations should praise Israel’s God and Lord.

In the first three verses Israel invites the nations to come to Zion and worship the King; in the following five verses she invites her own Twelve Tribes also to worship at His footstool; and in the last verse she repeats the invitation to the nations, and emphasizes the important command that the place of worship is to be Zion’s holy hill. —Williams, pages 375-376.


The psalmist begins with the affirmation that the Lord reigns, continuing one of the central, unifying themes of the preceding psalms in this Fourth Book (see 93:1; 96:10; 97:1). In the present psalm, however, this theme of God’s “rule” is considered with respect to its various expressions in holiness—or, to put it differently, how the various expressions of God’s holiness reflect His universal rule (as emphasized by the repeated refrain “Holy is He/the Lord” in vs. 3b, 5b, and 9b). In this opening section [vs.1-3] the universal aspect of God’s rule is correlated with the manifestation of God’s holiness in Creation—signaled first and foremost by the reference to Him being enthroned above the cherubim … that crowned the ark of the covenant.—Wechsler, page 237.


The psalmist now [vs.4-5] reflects upon God’s holy rule as represented by His code contained within the ark—i.e., the Law as epitomized by the two tablets of “testimony.” It is to the Law, accordingly that the terms “justice,” “equity,” and “righteousness” in this section refer. —Wechsler, pages 238.


The psalmist moves on [vs.6-9] to His holiness as represented by the service that took place around the ark. The psalmist thus opens this section by referring to Moses and Aaron, since the priesthood (and its attendant tabernacle duties0 was established with them, the first priests. So too, mention is made of Samuel because he was among the most—if not the most—prominent of the later Levites. … The reference to God as “a forgiving God” (v.8) highlights the result of that priestly work in which God’s holiness is most often encountered and affirmed by the common Israelite—i.e., atonement—with the reference to His holy hill highlighting the exclusive location where this work is accomplished. — Wechsler, pages 238.

A few commentaries explain v.8b—”you took vengeance on their deeds”—by pointing out that Moses, Aaron, and Samuel were flawed. God gave them forgiveness, but they still had to face the consequences of their sins—Moses and Aaron by failing to enter the promised land and Samuel … we don’t really know. He was wrong to install his evil sons as judges, but what punishment he received for it, we don’t know. I think this makes sense to me, especially as the psalm refers to God’s justice and righteousness.

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