Psalm 99:1–9 comment (0)
May 29, 2014
By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh, Ph.D.
Related Scripture: Psalm 99:1–9
Bible Studies for Life
Chair and Armstrong Professor of Religion, Samford University
God is Holy
Gore Vidal once analyzed today’s culture with its “passion for the immediate and the casual.” Everyone is in a hurry and that’s true of Christians as well. In our Western culture we do not have much use for waiting. Much of our modern technology goes into reducing the waiting times in our lives. Waiting is an intrusion, a frustration, whether it be at line in Walmart or discovering that our airline has postponed or cancelled a flight we were expecting to board. It delays the real life we want to live.
The people of Israel knew the importance of taking time to be with God and were not frustrated by the length of time it took to seek after a relationship with God.
One aspect of the life of pilgrimage that we need to develop within our lives as God’s people is that of the wonder of worshipping a God of glory and grace, majesty and mercy who calls us to love Him and to live our lives in His service.
The Psalms are the prayers of God’s people, a people whose purpose in life is to love the Lord with all their hearts. Psalm 100 is a song of praise, uttered by the people of God, and gives us an insight of what happens when we encounter God in worship.
God Is Unique (1–3)
This psalm uses the term “holy” on several occasions as each section ends with a refrain in which the word “holy” is used. The word “holy,” in its root meaning, contains the idea of apartness, being separate from. We often associate it as meaning “pure” but fundamentally it describes someone, or something, that is set apart from other people or things — a cut above the rest.
God is unique, exalted over all the people of the earth. In His presence the earth trembles as it is aware of the majesty of God’s glory. In worship we are always face-to-face with the mystery of God’s presence: a God who is loving and yet a God who is holy and before whom we come with reverence and awe.
God Is Involved (4–5)
Worship not only draws forth our adoration, thanksgiving and praise but encourages us to realize that the God who is holy is committed to holiness in the whole of His creation.
In these verses this idea is linked to His love of justice and His establishment of equity and righteousness within human relationships. As God sits enthroned, reigning over His creation, He is concerned to see that right is done on the earth, that human life and society are ordered in such a way that the needs of every human being are safeguarded, with all forms of oppression, abuse of power, racism and sexism eliminated. Those who pray “Father ... hallowed be Your name” go on to cry “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Justice and righteousness are essential ingredients of the lives of those who worship the God who is holy.
God Calls for Obedience (6–9)
The closing section focuses on the privilege of God’s people in knowing God, assured of His protection and loving provision as He answers our prayers. Yet the response of those who worship with thanksgiving is a life of gratitude and obedience to His “decrees.”
In Israel’s history their obedience was often momentary and fickle. In their failure they discovered the forgiveness of God but also knew that disobedience brought consequences.
Forgiveness does not turn the clock back as if nothing had happened. Failure to live in righteousness and without justice characterizing our relationships with others will bring consequences of chastening. God’s grace is never cheap. His love is not sentimental. He loves with a holy love and calls us to live lives of holiness in our daily living.