Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
This may be called THE SANCTUS, or, THE HOLY, HOLY, HOLY PSALM,
for the word "holy" is the conclusion and the refrain of its three main
divisions. Its subject is the holiness of the divine government, the sanctity of
the mediatorial reign. It seems to us to declare the holiness of Jehovah himself
in Ps 99:1-3; it mentions the equity of the king whom the Lord had appointed, as
an illustration of the Lord's love of holiness, or more probably it describes
the Lord as himself the king, in Ps 99:4-5, and it then sets forth the severely
righteous character of God's dealings with those favoured persons whom in former
times he had selected to approach him on behalf of the people, Ps 99:6-9. It is
a hymn fitted for the cherubim who surround the throne, who are mentioned in Ps
99:1; it is a Psalm most fitting for saints who dwell in Zion, the holy city,
and especially worthy to be reverently sung by all who, like David the king,
Moses the lawgiver, Aaron the priest, or Samuel the seer, are honoured to lead
the church of God, and plead for her with her Lord.
Verse 1. The Lord reigneth. One of the most joyous
utterances which ever leaped from mortal lip. The overthrow of the reign of evil
and the setting up of Jehovah's kingdom of goodness, justice, and truth, is
worthy to be hymned again and again, as we have it here for the third time in
the psalms. Let the people tremble. Let the chosen people feel a solemn
yet joyful awe, which shall thrill their whole manhood. Saints quiver with
devout emotion, and sinners quiver with terror when the rule of Jehovah is fully
perceived and felt. It is not a light or trifling matter, it is a truth which,
above all others, should stir the depths of our nature. He sitteth between the cherubims. In grandeur of sublime
glory, yet in nearness of mediatorial condescension, Jehovah revealed himself
above the mercyseat, whereon stood the likeness of those flaming ones who gaze
upon his glory, and for ever cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts." The
Lord reigning on that throne of grace which is sprinkled with atoning blood, and
veiled with the covering wings of mediatorial love, is above all other
revelations wonderful, and fitted to excite emotion among all mankind, hence it
is added, Let the earth be moved. Not merely "the people, "but the
whole earth should feel a movement of adoring awe when it is known that on the
mercyseat God sits as universal monarch. The pomp of heaven surrounds him, and
is symbolised by the outstretched wings of waiting cherubs; let not the earth be
less moved to adoration, rather let all her tribes bow before his infinite
majesty, yea, let the solid earth itself with reverent tremor acknowledge his
Verse 2. The Lord is great in Zion. Of old the temple's
sacred hill was the centre of the worship of the great King, and the place where
his grandeur was most clearly beheld: his church is now his favoured palace,
where his greatness is displayed, acknowledged, and adored. He there unveils his
attributes and commands the lowliest homage; the ignorant forget him, the wicked
despise him, the atheistical oppose him, but among his own chosen he is great
beyond comparison. He is great in the esteem of the gracious, great in his acts
of mercy, and really great in himself: great in mercy, power, wisdom, justice,
and glory. And he is high above all the people; towering above their
highest thoughts and loftiest conceptions. The highest are not high to him, yet,
blessed be his name, the lowliest are not despised by him. In such a God we
rejoice, his greatness and loftiness are exceedingly delightful in our esteem;
the more he is honoured and exalted in the hearts of men, the more exultant are
his people. If Israel delighted in Saul because he was head and shoulders above
the people, how much more should we exult in our God and King, Who is as high
above us as the heavens are above the earth.
Verse 3. Let them praise thy great and terrible name: let
all the dwellers in Zion and all the nations upon the earth praise the Lord, or
"acknowledge thankfully" the goodness of his divine nature, albeit that there is
so much in it which must inspire their awe. Under the most terrible aspect the
Lord is still to be praised. Many profess to admire the milder beams of the sun
of righteousness, but burn with rebellion against its more flaming radiance: so
it ought not to be: we are bound to praise a terrible, God and worship him who
casts the wicked down to hell. Did not Israel praise him "who overthrew Pharaoh
and his hosts in tile Red Sea, for his mercy endureth for ever." The terrible
Avenger is to be praised, as well as the loving Redeemer. Against this the
sympathy of man's evil heart with sin rebels; it cries out for an effeminate God
in whom pity has strangled justice. The well-instructed servants of Jehovah
praise him in all the aspects of his character, whether terrible or tender.
Grace streaming from the mercy-seat can alone work in us this admirable frame of
mind. For it is holy, or He is holy. In him is no flaw or
fault, excess or deficiency, error or iniquity. He is wholly excellent, and is
therefore called holy. In his words, thoughts, acts, and revelations as well as
in himself, he is perfection itself. O come let us worship and bow down before
Verse 4. The king's strength also loveth judgment. God is
the king, the mercy-seat is his throne, and the sceptre which he sways is holy
like himself. His power never exerts itself tyrannically; he is a sovereign, and
he is absolute in his government, but his might delights in right, his force is
used for just purposes only. Men in these days are continually arranging the
Lord's government, and setting up to judge whether he does right or not; but
saintly men in the olden time were of another mind, they were sure that what the
Lord did was just, and instead of calling him to account they humbly submitted
themselves to his will, rejoicing in the firm persuasion that with his whole
omnipotence God was pledged to promote righteousness, and work justice among all
his creatures. Thou dost establish equity. Not a court of equity merely,
but equity itself thou dost set up, and that not for a time or upon an occasion,
but as an established institution, stable as thy throne. Not even for the sake
of mercy does the Lord remove or injure the equity of his moral government: both
in providence and in grace he is careful to conserve the immaculate purity of
his justice. Most kingdoms have an establishment of some kind, and generally it
is inequitable; here we have an establishment which is equity itself. The Lord
our God demolishes every system of injustice, and right alone is made to stand. Thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob. Justice
is not merely established, but executed in God's kingdom; the laws are carried
out, the executive is as righteous as the legislative. Herein let all the
oppressed, yea, and all who love that which is right, find large occasion for
praise. Other nations under their despots were the victims and the perpetrators
of grievous wrong, but when the tribes were faithful to the Lord they enjoyed an
upright government within their own borders, and acted with integrity towards
their neighbours. That kingcraft which delights in cunning, favouritism, and
brute force is as opposite to the divine Kingship as darkness to light. The
palace of Jehovah is no robber's fortress nor despot's castle, built on
dungeons, with stones carved by slaves, and cemented with the blood of toiling
serfs. The annals of most human governments have been written in the tears of
the downtrodden, and the curses of the oppressed: the chronicles of the Lord's
kingdom are of another sort, truth shines in each line, goodness in every
syllable, and justice in every letter. Glory be to the name of the King, whose
gentle glory beams from between the cherubic wings.
Verse 5. Exalt ye the LORD our God. If no others adore him,
let his own people render to him the most ardent worship. Infinite condescension
makes him stoop to be called our God, and truth and faithfulness bind him to
maintain that covenant relationship; and surely we, to whom by grace he so
lovingly gives himself, should exalt him with all our hearts. He shines upon us
from under the veiling wings of cherubim, and above the seat of mercy, therefore
let us come and worship at his footstool. When he reveals himself in
Christ Jesus, as our reconciled God, who allows us to approach even to his
throne, it becomes us to unite earnestness and humility, joy and adoration, and,
while we exalt him, prostrate ourselves in the dust before him. Do we need to be
thus excited to worship? How much ought we to blush for such backwardness! It
ought to be our daily delight to magnify so good and great a God. For he is holy. A second time the note rings out, and as
the ark, which was the divine footstool, has just been mentioned, the voice
seems to sound forth from the cherubim where the Lord sitteth, who continually
do cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy. Lord God of Sabaoth!" Holiness is the harmony of all
the virtues. The Lord has not one glorious attribute alone, or in excess, but
all glories are in him as a whole; this is the crown of his honour and the
honour of his crown. His power is not his choicest jewel, nor his sovereignty,
but his holiness. In this all comprehensive moral excellence he would have his
creatures take delight, and when they do so their delight is evidence that their
hearts have been renewed, and they themselves have been made partakers of his
holiness. The gods of the heathen were, according to their own votaries,
lustful, cruel, and brutish; their only claim to reverence lay in their supposed
potency over human destinies: who would not far rather adore Jehovah, whose
character is unsullied purity, unswerving justice, unbending truth, unbounded
love, in a word, perfect holiness?
Verse 6. Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among
them that call upon his name. Though not ordained to the typical
priesthood, Moses was a true priest, even as Melchizedek had been before him.
God has ever had a priesthood beside and above that of the law. The three holy
men here mentioned all stood in his courts, and saw his holiness, each one after
his own order. Moses saw the Lord in flaming fire revealing each perfect law,
Aaron full often watched the sacred fire devour the sin-offering, and Samuel
witnessed the judgment of the Lord on Eli's house, because of the error of his
way. These each one stood in the gap when the wrath of God broke forth, because
his holiness had been insulted; and acting as intercessors, they screened the
nation from the great and terrible God, who otherwise would in a dreadful manner
have executed judgment in Jacob. Let these men, or such as these, lead us in our
worship, and let us approach the Lord at the mercy-seat as they did, for he is
as accessible to us as to them. They made it their life's business to call upon
him in prayer, and by so doing brought down innumerable blessings upon
themselves and others. Does not the Lord call us also to come up into the mount
with Moses, and to enter the most holy place with Aaron? Do we not hear him call
us by our name as he did Samuel? And do we not answer, "Speak, Lord, for thy
servant heareth"? They called upon the Lord, and he answered them. Not in
vain were their prayers; but being a holy God he was true to his promises, and
hearkened to them from off the mercy-seat. Here is reason for praise, for
answers to the petitions of some are proofs of God's readiness to hear others.
These three men asked large things, they pleaded for a whole nation, and they
stayed great plagues and turned away fiery wrath; who would not exercise himself
in adoring so great and merciful a God? If he were unholy he would be false to
his word and refuse his people's cries; this, then, is recorded for our joy and
for his glory, that holy men of old were not suffered to pray in vain.
Verse 7. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar. We have
had mention of the ark and the shekinah, and now of the fiery cloudy pillar,
which was another visible token of the presence of God in the midst of Israel.
Responses came to Moses and Aaron out of that glorious overshadowing cloud, and
though Samuel saw it not, yet to him also came the mystic voice which was wont
to thunder forth from that divine canopy. Men have had converse with God, let
men therefore speak to God in return. He has told us things to come, let us in
return confess the sins which are past; he has revealed his mind to us, let us
then pour out our hearts before him. They kept his testimonies. When others turned aside they
were faithful; in their hearts they laid up his word, and in their lives they
obeyed it. When he spake to them they observed his will, and therefore when they
spake to him he yielded to their desires. This keeping of the divine testimonies
is a virtue all too rare in these our days; men run after their own views and
opinions, and make light of the truth of God; hence it is that they fail in
prayer, and scoffers have even dared to say that prayer avails not at all. May
the good Lord bring back his people to reverence his word, and then will he also
have respect unto the voice of their cry. And the ordinance that he gave them. His practical precept
they observed as well as his doctrinal instruction. Ordinances are not to be
trifled with, or testimonies will also be despised; and the converse is also
true, a light estimate of inspired dogma is sure to end in neglect of moral
virtues. To Moses, Aaron, and Samuel special and personal charges were
committed, and they were all true to their trust, for they stood in awe of the
Lord, their God, and worshipped him with their whole souls. They were very
different men, and had each one a work to do peculiar to himself, yet because
each was a man of prayer they were all preserved in their integrity, fulfilled
their office, and blessed their generation. Lord, teach us like Moses to hold up
our hands in prayer and conquer Amalek, like Aaron to wave the censer between
the living and the dead till the plague is stayed, and like Samuel to say to a
guilty people, "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray
for you; "if thou wilt make us mighty with thee in prayer, we shall also be kept
faithful before thee in the service which thou hast laid upon us.
Verse 8. Thou answeredst them, 0 LORD our God. A sweet title
and a cheering fact. Our covenant God in a very special manner heard his three
servants when they pleaded for the people. Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest
vengeance of their inventions. He forgave the sinners, but he slew
their sins. Some apply this verse to Moses, Aaron, and Samuel, and remind us
that each of these fell into a fault and received chastisement. Of Samuel they
assert that, for having set up his sons as his successors, he was compelled to
submit to the anointing of Saul as king, which was a great grief to him: this is
to our mind a very doubtful statement, and leads us to abandon the
interpretation altogether. We believe that the passage refers to the nation
which was spared through the intercession of these three holy men, but yet was
severely chastened for its transgressions. In answer to the cry of Moses the
tribes lived on, but the then existing generation could not enter Canaan:
Aaron's golden calf was broken, though the fire of the Lord did not consume the
people; and Israel smarted under the harsh government of Saul, though at
Samuel's request its murmurings against the theocratic rule of their fathers'
God was not visited with pestilence or famine. So to forgive sin as at the same
time to express abhorrence of it, is the peculiar glory of God, and is best seen
in the atonement of our Lord Jesus. Reader, are you a believer? Then your sin is
forgiven you; but so surely as you are a child of God the rod of paternal
discipline will be laid upon you if your walk be not close with God. "You only
have I known of all the nations of the earth, therefore I will punish you for
Verse 9. Exalt the LORD our God. A second time the
delightful title of Jehovah our God is used, and it is quickly followed by a
third. The Psalm is Trinitarian in its whole structure. In each of his sacred
persons the Lord is the God of his people; the Father is ours, the Son is ours,
and the Holy Spirit is ours: let us exalt him with all our ransomed powers. And worship at his holy hill. Where he appoints his temple
let us resort. No spot of ground is now fenced about as peculiarly holy, or to
be regarded as more sacred than another; yet his visible church is his chosen
hill, and there would we be found, numbered with his people, and unite with them
in worship. For the LORD our God is holy. Again this devout description
is repeated, and made the climax of the song. Oh for hearts made pure within, so
that we may rightly perceive and worthily praise the infinite perfection of the
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This psalm has three parts, in which the Lord
is celebrated as He who is to come, as He who is, and as he who was. John
Albert Bengel, 1687-1752.
Whole Psalm. In each of the three strophes Jehovah is
acknowledged in his peculiar covenant relation to his people. In the first he is
"great in Zion"(Ps 99:2); in the second, he has "executed righteousness
in Jacob"(Ps 99:4); and he is "Jehovah our God" (Ps 99:5); in the
third, the great examples of this covenant relationship are cited from Israel's
ancient history; and again God is twice claimed as "Jehovah our God" (Ps
99:8-9). J.J.S. Perowne.
Whole Psalm. There are three psalms which begin with the
words, "The Lord (JEHOVAH) reigneth." (Psalms 93, 97, 99.) This is the third and
last of these Psalms; and it is remarkable that in this Psalm the words He is
holy are repeated three times (Ps 99:3,5,9). Thus this Psalm is one of the
links in the chain which connects the first revelation of God in Genesis with
the full manifestation of the doctrine of the blessed Trinity, which is revealed
in the commission of the risen Saviour to his apostles: "Go ye, and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost, "and which prepares the faithful to join in the
heavenly Hallelujah of the church glorified, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God
Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come." The other links in this chain in
the Old Testament are, the Aaronic benediction, in Nu 6:24-27; and the Seraphic
Trisagion, in Isa 6:1-3. Christopher Wordsworth.
Whole Psalm. Many of the preceding Psalms, in extolling the
Dominion and Supremacy of the Messiah, have spoken of him solely as the object
of triumph and rejoicing. He has been represented in all the bounteousness of
his mercy, and the excess of his lovingkindness; and the ideas of might and
majesty, with which he has been accompanied, seem chiefly to have been regarded
as the means by which these gracious designs will be carried into a sure effect.
There is always a great danger in such a feeling, lest our reciprocal
covenant should be too much forgotten; and we should rest on our privileges to
the exclusion of our practice. This was a constant error to the Jews. "We have
Abraham to our Father, "was continually on their lips; as if the given promise
to their nation had been inalienable for ever. Subsequent ages have shown the
existence of the same false principle amongst the Gentiles. It is a part of the
weakness of human nature; and hence was the prophet inspired to warn the world
of the evil, and draw their minds to a just sense of the awfulness of the
Redeemer's majesty. In this view, joined as it is throughout with assertions of
his readiness at all times to listen to the believer and to grant his
supplication, the Psalm is at once of great power and of an exceeding
consolation. William Hill Tucker.
Verse 1. Let the people tremble... let the earth be moved.
That fear which proceeds from simple reverence as well as that which arises from
apprehension of evil, produces bodily shaking. Thus this exhortation may concern
believing as well as unbelieving nations. Amyraldus.
Verse 1. Let the people tremble. He bids a defiance, as it
were, to all his enemies, orgizesywsan, irascantur,
commoveantur, fremant populi;let the people be angry, fret, and be
unquiet, as Ps 2:1. Let the earth, that is, the tyrants of the earth, be
moved at it; yet let them know that all their endeavours are but vain.
Verse 1. Let the people tremble. Jarchi refers this to the
war of Gog and Magog. John Gill.
Verse 1. Let the people tremble. Albeit the church be
compassed about with enemies, as the lily among the thorns, yet because her Lord
reigneth in the midst of her, she hath reason not only to comfort herself in
him, but also hath ground of defying her enemies, and boasting against them:
"The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble." The Lord's people do
not worship an unknown God, they know who he is, and where to find him; to wit,
in his ordinances, on the throne of grace, reconciling himself to the world in
Christ: He sitteth between the cherubims. David Dickson.
Verse 1. The cherubims. These were figures, or
representations of angels, inclining their faces one towards the other, and
touching one another with their wings. Ex 25:18. The use of these was to cover
or overshadow the mercyseat with their wings, Ex 25:20, and from this
seat God used to speak unto Moses, Ex 25:22; Nu 7:8-9. Which may be
applied unto Christ, whose mediation was signified by the
mercyseat;whence it is said, that he is a propitiation or
covering mercyseat, Ro 3:25 1Jo 2:2 4:10, because by his obedience all our
unrighteousness is covered. Thomas Wilson(-1621), in "A Complete Christian
Verse 1. He sitteth between the cherubims. Our friend Mr.
Charles Stanford, in his delicious work, "Symbols of Christ, "has beautifully
brought out the connection between Mt 23:37 and Mt 23:38. The house was left
desolate because Christ, who was set forth by the symbol of shelter, was
rejected by them, and was not permitted to cover them with his wings. It was
customary for the Jews to say of a proselyte, "He has taken refuge under the
wings of the Shekinah." We now see that to take shelter under the wings of the
Shekinah is to hide beneath the wings of Christ. Beneath that living shield
which beats back the destroying stroke, and is broad enough to canopy a fugitive
world, we take shelter, and there the promise is fulfilled, "He shall cover thee
with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust."
Verse 1. He sitteth between the cherubims. The
cherubim is the seat of God, as the scripture sheweth us, a certain exalted
heavenly throne, which we see not; but the word of God knoweth it, knoweth it as
his own seat: and the word of God and the Spirit of God hath itself revealed to
the servants of God where God sitteth. Not that God doth sit, as doth man, but
thou, if thou dost wish that God sit in thee, if thou wilt be good, shalt be the
seat of God; for thus is it written, "The soul of the righteous is the seat
of wisdom" Septuagint translation]. For a throne is in our language
called a seat. For some, conversant with the Hebrew tongue, have interpreted
cherubim in the Latin language (for it is a Hebrew term) by the words fulness of
knowledge. Therefore, because God surpasses all knowledge, he is said to sit
above the fulness of knowledge. Let there be therefore in thee fulness of
knowledge, and even thou shalt be the throne of God. Augustine.
Verse 1. Let the earth be moved. Those that submit to him
shall be established, and not "moved, "Ps 96:10; but they that oppose him
will be moved. Heaven and earth shall be shaken, and all nations; but the
kingdom of Christ cannot be moved. The "things which cannot be shaken shall
remain, "Heb 12:27. Matthew Henry.
Verse 2. He is high above all the people. The metaphor is
taken from such great objects as trees, animals, palaces, towers, which are the
more valued, and are regarded as possessing the greater strength, the higher
they rise above others. So De 1:28 2:10,21 9:2, Concerning the Canaanites and
the giants. Martin Geier.
Verse 3. Let them praise thy great and terrible name, etc.
Although the enemies of the Church of God are in a tumult, and the whole earth
is moved, do you nevertheless with joyful spirit entrust your salvation to him,
and acknowledge and diligently celebrate his power displayed in the defence of
his people and the overthrow of his foes. Mollerus.
Verse 3. Thy great and terrible name; for it is holy. The
FATHER'S name is "great, "for he is the source, the Creator, the Lord of
all; the SON'S name is "terrible, "for he is to be our judge; the name of
the HOLY GHOST is "holy, "for he it is who bestows hallowing and
sanctification. The Hebrew commentators see here the mystic Tetragrammaton
whose true pronunciation was kept a profound secret by the Rabbins, owing to a
feeling of awful reverence; while the Greeks are precise in bidding us take it
of that name, which is "terrible" to God's enemies, "holy" to his
friends, and "great" to both, the name of JESUS. Hugo Cardinalis,
Genebrardus, and Balthazar Corderius, in Neale's Commentary.
Verse 3. Let them praise thy terrible name. What force the
experience of a burdened conscience attaches to the expression, "Thy great and
terrible name; for it is holy!" The misery of sin consists not merely in
its consequences, but in its very nature, which is to separate between God and
our souls, and to shut us out from God, and God from us. Yet the Spirit of God
indicates, in the covenant of grace, a threefold practical influence of his
holiness upon us, of which the issue is the opposite of despair. The various
steps are marked as praise, exaltation, and worship (Ps 99:3, 5, 9). Of these
the last seems by far the most difficult to realise. For it is in the nature of
conscious sin to prevent even our approaches to God, to keep us from all
comfortable fellowship with God, and to fill us with a heavy sense of our
infinite and almost hopeless distance from him. Yet we will "praise thy great
and terrible name; for it is holy." Great it is; most glorious and
high; far above all human conceptions. Viewed in this light, even the fact
otherwise so consoling, "The Lord reigneth, "leads only to the inference, "Let
the people tremble; "and "He sitteth between the cherubim" (or manifesteth
himself as the covenant God) to the conclusion, "Let the earth be moved, "or
stagger. But his name is not only great and terrible in its
manifestations, "it is holy, "and therefore we "praise" it. His greatness
is all arrayed on the side of goodness, his power on that of righteousness and
truth. Alfred Edersheim, in "The Golden Diary of Heart Converse with
Jesus in the Book of Psalms, "1873.
Verse 3. Thy terrible name... holy. In acts of man's
vindictive justice, there is something of impurity, perturbation, passion, some
mixture of cruelty; but none of these fall upon God in the several acts of
wrath. When God appears to Ezekiel in the resemblance of fire, to signify his
anger against the house of Judah for their idolatry, "from his loins downward
there was the appearance of fire, but from the loins upward the appearance of
brightness, as the colour of amber." Eze 8:2. His heart is clean in his most
terrible acts of vengeance; it is a pure flame wherewith he scorcheth and burns
his enemies. He is holy in the most fiery appearance. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 3. It is holy. No attribute is sounded out so loftily,
with such solenmity, and so frequently by angels that stand before his throne,
as this. Where do you find any other attribute trebled in the praises of it as
this? Isa 6:3: "Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full
of his glory; "and Re 4:8: "The four living creatures rest not day and night
saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, "&c. His power of sovereignty
as Lord of hosts is but once mentioned, but with a ternal repetition of his
holiness. Do you hear in any evangelical song any other perfection of the divine
nature thrice repeated? Where do we read of the crying out, Eternal, eternal,
eternal; or Faithful, faithful, faithful, Lord God of hosts! Whatsoever other
attribute is left out, this God would have to fill the mouths of angels and
blessed spirits for ever in heaven... As it seems to challenge an excellence
above all his other perfections, so it is the glory of all the rest; as it is
the glory of the Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead;
as his power is the strength of them, so his holiness is the beauty of them; as
all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncomely
without holiness to adorn them: should this be sullied all the rest would lose
their honour and their comfortable efficacy; as at the same instant that the sun
should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, its generative and
quickening virtue. As sincerity is the lustre of every grace in a Christian, so
is purity the splendour of every attribute in the Godhead. His justice is a holy
justice, his wisdom a holy wisdom, his arm of power a "holy arm, " Ps 98:1; his
truth or promise a "holy promise, "Ps 105:42. Holy and true go
hand and hand, Re 6:10. "His name, " which signifies all his attributes
in conjunction, "is holy." Stephen Charnock.
Verse 4. The king's strength. They will remember his
strength with joy, because he loveth judgment, and there is no reason,
therefore, to be afraid of him in consequence of his great strength, so long as
they continue to walk in the good way. George Phillips.
Verses 4-5. Our King loveth righteousness:he will
execute perfect justice, tempered with perfect mercy. He will judge every man
according to his works, summing up and completing the unnoticed righteousness of
his providence by an open manifestation to the universe of his holiness and
equity. "We believe that he will come to be our judge, "therefore let us magnify
and exalt him with our lips and hearts; and let us fall down and worship the man
Christ Jesus, who took our nature, even his manhood, from the earth, which is
his footstool, into the eternity of the Godhead, in which he is equal to the
Father. As heaven, which is the throne of God, and earth, which is his
footstool, form one universe, so is God and man one Christ, the everlasting
Lord, "holy and true, "in whom we sinners may appeal from the throne of eternal
justice to the footstool of eternal mercy. "Plain Commentary."
Verse 5 (second elause). Mark the peculiar
expression, Worship at his footstool. What humility and subjection does
it imply! It is the worship of one whose heart has been subdued by divine grace.
Verse 5. Bishop Horsley thus renders this verse:
"Exalt ye Jehovah our God,
And make prostration before his foostool;
It is holy."
Thus he connects "hory" with Jehovah's footstool, mentioned in
the preceding clause. There appears to me great propriety and beauty in this
construction, which divides the poem into three members. Of these the first
terminates with ascribing "holiness" to the name of Jehovah: the second,
with ascribing the same property to his abode:and then, at the conclusion
of the hymn, "holiness, " essential holiness, is ascribed to Jehovah himself.
Our Bible marginal translation recognizes this construction of the 5th verse.
Verse 6. Moses and Aaron among his priests, or chief
officers; as in 1Ch 18:17. Moses was, if not a priest, yet a continual
intercessor for the people, and a type of Christ the great Mediator of his
church. Aben-Ezra called him Cohen haccohanim, the priest of
priests; and Philo, writing his life, concludeth, This was the life and death of
Moses the king, the lawgiver, the prophet, and the chief priest. John
Verse 6. Moses twice performed acts essentially priestly (Ex
24:4-8 and Ex 40:22, compared with Le 8:1-36), at the ratification of the
covenant, and at the consecration of the priests. For this reason he could the
more readily be placed here among the priestly mediators. C. B. Moll.
Verse 6. Priests. The word cohen is not confined as a
title to the priests of the Levitical order, it is applied to Melchizedek and
others. Moses is included among God's priests in accordance with the true idea
of a priest, as being the official exponent of the divine love and mercy--one who
represented God though acting in the interests of man. Robert JBaker
Girdlestone, in "Synonyms of the Old Testament."
Verse 6. His priests. At the foundation of this there is
another spiritual idiom, that, namely, according to which all are called priests
who possess what constitutes the essence of the ordinary priestly office
(although not the externals), inward connection with God, free access to the
throne of grace, and the gift and power of intercessory prayer. This figurative
idiom occurs even in the law itself, compare Ex 19:6, where it is said to all
Israel, "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." F.W.
Verse 6. Priests. The word cohen, Priest, is from
cahan, to plead a cause, as an intercessor, mediator, or advocate;
hence the strict propriety of its use here in reference to Moses. C. H.
Verse 6. They that call upon his name. The Hebrew word which
we translate to call upon God, notes a sort of men whose chief business
or trade was to call upon or invocate the name of God, and in this instance it
implies that it was the special calling of these men to call upon God. Joseph
Verses 6-9. This third strophe is in reality a prophetical
picture of the future holy worship of God, in which Moses, Aaron, and Samuel
appear as the living representatives of the redeemed church, like the four and
twenty elders in the more fully developed Apocalyptic scene of St. John.
Revelation 5. Joseph Francis Thrupp.
Verse 7. They kept his testimonies. For this reason they
were so promptly heard, even as the Lord himself says, "If a man love me he will
keep my words, "and again, "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye
shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." And the ordinance that
he gave them. They not only observed the precepts which bind men in general,
but the peculiar obligation of governing, directing, and teaching the people
committed to them. Bellarmine.
Verse 8. The construction of the verse seems to be this: "O
Lord our God, thou didst hear or answer them, "that is, the aforementioned
typical mediators, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel: "thou becamest a forbearing God for
them, "or, at their intercession; and that "even when punishing, "or, when thou
hadst begun to punish "the wicked deeds of them, "that is, not of Moses, Aaron,
and Samuel, but of the people, who had transgressed, and for whom they
interceded. This was the case when Moses interceded for the idolaters, Ex 22:32,
Aaron for the schismatics, Nu 16:47, and Samuel for the whole nation, 1Sa 7:9.
Verse 8. Thou answeredst them... forgavest them. Oh, the
blessed assurance that nothing can disturb our standing in the covenant. Answer
and forgiveness are certain, though vengeance is taken of our inventions. How
every word and expression here seems to go right to our hearts! The very
designation of our sins and punishments is so true. Yet, withal, we are not shut
out from God. We are able to speak to, and to hear him; we receive what we need,
and much more; and, above all, we have the sweet, abiding sense of forgiveness,
notwithstanding "our inventions." When we smart under chastisements or
disappointments, we know that it is the fire which burns up the hay, wood, and
stubble--a Father's dealings in compassion and mercy. We willingly, we gladly
take these chastisements, which now are to us fresh pledges of our safety. For
safe, eternally safe, remains the foundation, and unclosed the way of access. O
surely with all our heart do we accord: "Exalt Jehovah our God, and worship
at his holy hill; for Jehovah our God is holy." Alfred
Verse 8. The words of this verse have in them three
1. The behaviour of the men it speaks of, which is partly good,
and partly evil. The former verse saith, "They kept God's testimonies, and the
ordinance that he gave them; "this insinuates (what was also expressed, Ps 99:6)
that they used to call upon God; all this was very good. But withal they did
sometimes some things amiss, they had some inventions, by-paths, and steps awry,
which, as they needed pardon, so they occasionally incensed him so much against
them that he would not let them escape altogether, without taking some vengeance
for such untowardness.
2. God's graciousness in a double respect: 1, in answering
them, granting their suits and supplications ordinarily. 2. In forgiving them,
pardoning their failings and faults evermore; never dealing with them altogether
according to their sins, but in the midst of any offence of theirs, or judgment
of his, remembering mercy.
3. His holy justice, notwithstanding, taking vengeance on
their inventions; chastening them for some faults sometimes, and not letting
them always go unpunished, how faithful soever they were generally, or how
gracious soever he was eternally. Herbert Palmer (1601-1647), in a Sermon
entitled "The Glass of God's Providence." 1644.
Verse 8. Thou wast a God that forgavest them, literally
"for them; "on account of their intercessions. God did not destroy those
for whom his devoted servants pleaded, in the day of threatened vengeance. Their
sins, indeed, he visited with the rod of divine chastisement; but thcir
forfeited lives he spared in answer to prayer. John Morison.
Verse 8. Thou... forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance
of their inventions. Because he loves the person, and hates only the
sin; therefore he preserves the one, destroys only the other. This is all the
fruit, to take away his sin. The covenant that is made with us in Christ is not
a covenant made with works, but with persons; and therefore, though the works be
often hateful, yet he goes on to love the persons; and that he may continue to
love them, destroys out of them what he hates, but cutteth not them off. A
member that is leprous or ulcerous, a man loves it as it is "his own flesh, "Eph
5:29, though he loathes the corruption and putrefaction that is in it; and
therefore he doth not presently cut it off, but purgeth it daily, lays plasters
to it to eat the corruption out: whereas a wart or even a wen that grows to a
man's body, a man gets it cut off, for he doth not reckon it as his flesh.
Verse 8. Thou tookest veageance of their inventions. It is
not a light punishment, but a "vengeance, ""he takes on their inventions;
"to manifest that he hates sin as sin, and not because the worst persons commit
it. Perhaps, had a profane man touched the ark, the hand of God had not so
suddenly reached him. But when Uzzah, a man zealous for him, as may be supposed
by his care for the support of the tottering ark, would step out of his place,
he strikes him down for his disobedient action, by the side of the ark, which he
would indirectly (as not being a Levite) sustain, 2Sa 6:7. Nor did our Saviour
so sharply reprove the Pharisees, and turn so short from them as he did from
Peter, when he gave a carnal advice, and contrary to that wherein was to be the
greatest manifestation of God's holiness, viz, the death of Christ, Mt 16:23. He
calls him Satan, a name sharper than the title of the devil's children,
wherewith he marked the Pharisees, and given (besides him) to none but Judas,
who made a profession of love to him, and was outwardly ranked in the number of
his disciples. A gardener hates a weed the more for being in the bed with the
most precious flowers. Stephen Charnock.
Verse 8. Thou tookest vengeance. Sometimes the sins of a
people may be such, that God will not pardon them as to temporal punishments;
nay, not the godly themselves. Even they may have been partakers with others in
their sins, or may have so provoked God themselves, and sinned in such a way as
to cause his name to be blasphemed; so that he is concerned in honour to bring
some exemplary punishment upon them. So it was with David (2Sa 12:10-14.):
though he pardoned him as to the guilt of eternal death, saved his soul, and
spared his life, which was forfeited to divine justice for the murder of Uriah;
yet the prophet announced that sharp afflictions must come on him, the sword
must never "depart front his house, "and the child begotten in adultery must
die, and his wives must be given to his neighbours. So, in Ps 99:8, it seems to
be spoken of Moses himself, and other godly among the Israelites who died in the
wilderness, and were not permitted to come into the land of promise, that
"God forgave them, "yet "took vengeance of their inventions,
" John Collins (1687) in the Morning Exercises.
Verse 8. Vengeance of their inventions. It is remarkable,
that in the preceding verses mention is made of Moses, and Aaron, and Samuel in
a way which seems to imply that they were upon the psalmist's mind when he
uttered the declaration of the text. These three persons, all eminent for their
piety, were also conspicuous for having suffered the Divine displeasure on
account of their failings. Moses angered the Lord at the waters of strife, and
he is not suffered to enter the promised land; Aaron provoked the Divine anger
by making the golden calf, and would have been destroyed, had not Moses by
fervent intercession turned away the anger of the Lord lest he should destroy
him; so Samuel placed his sons over Israel, who walked not in his ways, and
therefore God gave Israel a king, whose crimes caused the prophet to go down
with sorrow to the grave. Stephen Bridge, 1852.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
1. The doctrine of divine sovereignty enunciated.
2. The apprehension of divine sovereignty demanded. It ought to
be spiritually apprehended. God wants to be King in the hearts of men. All
mortals must tremble before the Immortal; especially the wicked.
3. The accessories of divine sovereignty hinted at. Sovereignty
never forsakes the mercyseat. Angels are represented on the mercyseat, the
ministers of sovereignty,
4. The effect of divine sovereignty described. Men should be
"moved" to fear and obey the King before whom angels bow. Men should be moved to seek the mercy which angels study.
Verse 1. He sitteth between the cherubims, etc.
1. Statement made; where God dwells, on the mercyseat. To hear
prayer, and confession, and to grant salvation.
2. Effect produced--"Earth moved; "to admiration, to prayer, to
sorrowful contrition, to draw near, etc. E. G. Gange.
1. God is great in Zion in Himself, all his perfections are
here, which cannot be said of creation, or of his Law, or of the heaven of
2. Great in his works of saving sinners, which he cannot do
3. Great in his glory as displayed in redemption through his
4. Great in his love to his redeemed. G. R.
Verse 2. The Lord is great in Zion.
1. In the condescension he displays--Zion is his "habitation,
2. In the glory he manifests--power and glory are in the
sanctuary, Ps 68:2.
3. In the assemblage he draws. "Every one in Zion appeareth
before God, "Ps 84:7.
4. In the blessings he imparts.
5. In the authority he exerts. W. Jackson.
Verse 3. The terrors of the Lord, connected with holiness,
and worthy of praise.
1. Trace the process of the working of right principles through
three stages--Love, Establishment, Execution.
2. Illustrate from God's character and action.
3. Apply to national, and to daily, life. C. D.
Verse 5. Exalt the Lord your God.
1. Why? For what he is to you. For what he has done for you.
For what he has told you.
2. How? In your affection. In your meditation. In your
supplication. In your conversation. In your profession. In your consecration. In
your co-operation. In your expectation. W. J.
1. The loyal enthusiasln of worship, it exalts the Lord.
2. The humble diffidence of worship, not aspiring to his
exaltation it kneels at his footstool.
3. The good reason for worship. --"He is holy." C. D.
1. Prayer offered. Moses the prophet, Aaron the priest, Samuel
the ruler, "They called, "&c.
2. Prayer answered. "He answered them, ""he spake, "&c.
3. Prayer vindicated. They kept the other testimonies, &c.
Verse 7. (first clause). The revelation of the cloud, or what
God foreshadowed to Israel in the cloudy pillar.
1. That God was willing to commune with man.
2. That sinful man could not see God and live.
3. That God should become incarnate, veiled in flesh as in the
4. That he should be their shelter, protector, guide.
5. That God manifest in the flesh should lead them to the
Promised Land--Heaven. C. D.
Verse 8. Mercy and judgment, or the sea of glass mingled
with fire. C. D.
Verse 8. Observe,
1. That God's vengeance for sin does not prevent his
forgiveness of sin; and,
2. That God's forgiveness of sin does not prevent his taking
vengeance. Stephen Bridge
Verse 9. The Lord our God. A very sweet topic will be found
in the consideration of the questions, "In what respect is Jehovah ours? and in
what relations does he stand to his people?"
WORK UPON THE NINETY-NINTH PSALM
In "The Golden Diary of Heart Converse with Jesus in the Book
of Psalms." By the Rev. Dr. EDERSHEIM, Tarquay. Arranged for every Sunday in the
year. Re-issue. 1873. There are expositions of Psalms 99, 101, and 102.