Saturday, April 9, 2011

Psalm 99

Exalt the Lord our God

Psalm 99 is the last of the "Enthronement Psalms."  Its first statement is the foundation on which all religion is laid - that the Lord reigns.  God governs the world by His providence, the church by His grace, and both by His Son.  In regard to the 2nd part of verse 1:  "Let the peoples tremble . . . let the earth be moved," my Bible notes that God's kingship is cause for trembling both by the inhabitants of the earth, and the earth itself. 

 ex-alt (ig-zwalt) - verb (used with object)
  1. to raise in rank, honor, power, character, quality, etc.; elevate
  2. to praise, extol, glorify

Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill-
For the Lord our God is holy.
~ Ps. 99:9
RC Sproul states that the holiness of God is the vital difference between the one true God (of Christianity) and all other false gods & religions. 
How would a God who is holy & just accept in His presence unjust creatures?  That's what Judaism & Christianity understand as the vital problem.  Human beings who are unjust must be justified somehow to enter the presence of a holy God. 
That's why the whole focus of Judeo-Christianity is at the point of atonement, which brings about reconciliation.  But if you don't believe that God is all that holy, there's no need for any concept of reconciliation.  We can live however we want because this kind of god is a cosmic bellhop who will overlook all of our sins and do what ever we want him to do for us.  I would say the holiness of God is the vital difference.
 RC Sproul further expounds on this holy characteristic:  there are two ways the Bible speaks of God's holiness:
  1. the most commonly understood is with respect to God's purity or His moral virtue - His righteousness
  2. The primary meaning of holiness refers to God's apartness - otherness, transcendence - that sense in which He is  much more majestic in all of His being than is any creaturely being. 

steps to the original Temple
Jerusalem, Israel




In Psalm 99, God is also named the God-Who-Forgives

You were to them the God-Who
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.
~ Ps. 99:8

This verse reminds us of God's forgiveness, and also that forgiveness does not cancel all the consequences of sin!  Can you think of a time when God has allowed natural consequences of your behavior - even though your sin was confessed and forgiven?  The Bible is full of these examples, and we would do well to hide verse 8 in our hearts.

  • The Lord reigns!
  • His name is great and awesome
  • The Lord our God is holy
  • He executes justice & righteousness
  • God is to be exalted
  • The Lord answers His people when they call upon Him
  • He is the God-Who-Forgives
  • God exacts vengeance on our deeds
  • I praise the Lord that He does indeed reign! 
  • I bless God for His holiness - His apartness, 'otherness' - that He is God, and I am not, and that there is none like Him
  • I praise God that He hears me when I call upon Him
  • I praise Him that He is the God-Who-Forgives
There is none like You,
No one else can touch my heart like You do,
I can search for all eternity, Lord
And find, there is none like You.
~ Lenny Leblanc

    O Lord, I praise Your great and awesome name!  May I exalt You in my thoughts and in my actions, in my life every day. 
     My heart is full of praise that You did indeed provide for a way of atonement for Your people - a way so that we could come into Your presence, approach Your throne, abide with You forever.  As this Easter season approaches, may we celebrate with greater joy what Your Son accomplished for us on the cross - that He died for our sins, and rose again where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, the God-Who-Forgives because of Christ's atoning work. 
     O God, there is none like You.  May I live out my love & praise in acts of obedience to Your word - In Jesus' name I pray ~ Amen

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