Psalms 99


The empire of God in the world and the Church, 1, 2.

He ought to be praised, 3.

Justice and judgment are his chief glory, 4.

He should be worshipped as among the saints of old, whom he

graciously answered and saved, 5-8.

Exalt him because he is holy, 9.


The Hebrew and Chaldee have no title; all the versions but

the Chaldee attribute it to David. The Syriac says it concerns

"the slaughter of the Midianites which Moses and the children of

Israel had taken captive; and is a prophecy concerning the glory

of the kingdom of Christ." But the mention of Samuel shows that it

cannot be referred to the time of Moses. Calmet thinks that it was

sung at the dedication of the city, or of the second temple, after

the return from the Babylonish captivity. Eight of Kennicott's and

De Rossi's MSS. join it to the preceding psalm.

Verse 1. The Lord reigneth] See Clarke on Ps 97:1.

Let the people tremble] He will establish his kingdom in spite

of his enemies; let those who oppose him tremble for the


He sitteth between the cherubims] This is in reference to the

ark, at each end of which was a cherub of glory; and the

shechinah, or symbol of the Divine Presence, appeared on the lid

of the ark, called also the mercy-seat, between the cherubim.

Sitting between the cherubim implies God's graciousness and

mercy. While then, in his reign, he was terrible to sinners, he

is on the throne of grace to all who fear, love, and obey him.

Though this symbol were not in the second temple, yet the Divine

Being might very well be thus denominated, because it had become

one of his titles, he having thus appeared under the tabernacle

and first temple.

Verse 2. The Lord is great in Zion] It is among his own

worshippers that he has manifested his power and glory in an

especial manner. There he is known, and there he is worthily


Verse 3. Let them praise thy great and terrible name] Let them

confess thee to be great and terrible: let them tremble before


For it is holy.] kadosh hu. As this not only ends

this verse but the fifth also, and in effect the ninth, it seems

to be a species of chorus which was sung in a very solemn manner

at the conclusion of each of these parts. His holiness-the

immaculate purity of his nature, was the reason why he should be

exalted, praised, and worshipped.

Verse 4. The king's strength] If this Psalm were written by

David, he must mean by it that he was God's vicegerent or deputy,

and that, even as king, God was his strength, and the pattern

according to which equity, judgment, and righteousness should be

executed in Jacob.

Verse 5. Worship at his footstool] Probably meaning the ark on

which the Divine glory was manifested. Sometimes the earth is

called God's footstool, Mt 5:35; Isa 66:1; sometimes

Jerusalem; sometimes the temple, La 2:1; sometimes the

tabernacle, Ps 32:7; and sometimes the

ark, 1Ch 28:2. The Israelites, when they worshipped, turned

their faces toward the ark, because that was the place where was

the symbol of the Divine Presence.

For he is holy.] The burden chanted by the chorus.

Verse 6. Moses and Aaron] As Moses and Aaron among the priests,

and as Samuel among the prophets, worshipped God in humility,

gratitude, and the spirit of obedience, and received the strongest

tokens of the Divine favour; so worship ye the Lord, that he may

bless, support, and save you. Moses was properly the priest of the

Hebrews before Aaron and his family were appointed to that office.

Verse 7. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar] That is, he

directed all their operations, marchings, and encampments by this

cloudy pillar. See Ex 33:9.

They kept his testimonies] Do ye the same, and God will be your

portion as he was theirs.

Verse 8. Thou-forgavest them] When the people had sinned, and

wrath was about to descend on them, Moses and Aaron interceded for

them, and they were not destroyed.

Tookest vengeance of their inventions.] God spared them, but

showed his displeasure at their misdoings. He chastised, but did

not consume them. This is amply proved in the history of this


Verse 9. Worship at his holy hill] Worship him publicly in the


For the Lord our God is holy.] The words of the chorus; as in

the third and fifth verses.


There are two parts in this Psalm:-

I. A description of the kingdom of God.

1. From the majesty and terror of it against his enemies,

Ps 99:1-3.

2. From its equity in the execution of judgment and justice,

Ps 99:4.

3. From his patience and clemency in giving audience to his

servants, Ps 99:6-8.

II. A demand of praise and honour of all that acknowledge him

for their King, begun at the third verse, repeated at the fifth,

and continued in the last. The Psalm contains a prophecy of the

kingdom of Christ, and its glory.

I. 1. The terror, power, and majesty of this kingdom: "The Lord

reigneth." 1. He bids defiance to his enemies: "Let the people

tremble." 2. "He sitteth between the cherubim." He is always

present with his people; they need not fear, though the earth be

moved. 3. "He is great in Zion." More potent and higher than all

people. 4. "His name is great and terrible." His enemies have

every thing to fear, while his friends have every thing to hope.

2. The psalmist describes this kingdom, from its justice and

equity. 1. "He loveth judgment." This is one of his perfections.

2. "He establishes equity." Gives just and equal laws to all. 3.

"He executes judgment in Jacob." None of his followers shall live

without law; they are obedient children, living according to his

will. 4. And therefore he requires them to exalt and adore him. 5.

They are to worship at his foot-stool-all their approaches are to

be made in the deepest reverence, with the truest self-abasement.

6. "For he is holy;" and he requires all his followers to be holy


3. He describes it from the mercy and clemency of the ruler. 1.

He showed his mercy and kindness to Moses, Aaron, and Samuel, as

intercessors for the people. "They called upon God," for

themselves and for the people; "and he answered them." 1. See the

intercession of Moses, Ex 32:31; 2. Of

Aaron, Nu 16:46-48. 3. Of

Samuel, 1Sa 7:5, 9, 10. 4. He spake to

Moses, Ex 33:8, 9, 11; and to

Aaron, Nu 12:5-8.

And now he adds the reason why he heard them:-

1. "They kept his testimonies." Those precepts that were common

to all others.

2. "And the ordinances that he gave them." As public persons who

were to rule in Church and state.

And that it was a great mercy that the Lord heard them, the

prophet acknowledges by this apostrophe-

1. "Thou answeredst them, O Lord our God." Which the history


2. "Thou forgavest them;" that is, the people for whom they

prayed: for in Hebrew the relative is often put without an


3. "Thou tookest vengeance of their inventions." The golden calf

was broken to pieces, Ex 32:20; and the

false gods were put away 1Sa 7:3, 4. The people were not

consumed, though their sin was in a certain manner visited upon

them. See Nu 14:23, 30; 20:12.

II. The psalmist concludes with a demand of praise to this kind


1. "Exalt the Lord." Show that he is high, holy, just, good, and


2. "Worship at his holy hill." Attend his public worship, and

show a godly example in this way to all others. He who is

indifferent about the public worship of God is generally not less

so in private devotion.

3. The reason for all this is: "The Lord our God is holy." He

requires this worship because it is a chief means by which he

communicates his holiness to his followers. Without this holiness

there is no happiness here, and without it none shall ever see

God. Get holiness, that you may get happiness here, and heaven


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