Triperspectivalism in Psalm 99

Tim Brister
Tim Brister
2014 27 May

Last year, I wrote a blogpost about Triperspectivalism in the Psalms, mainly drawing from Psalms 71. I’ve continued to slowly meditate my way through the Psalms, and this morning I found myself enjoying Psalms 99. This is a psalm that I have skimmed over in the past with an acceleration button pressed toward Psalms 100. But today, I decided to reverse the speed and go in slow motion.

What I realized in Psalms 99 is three pairs: God’s reign and rule (vs. 1-2); God’s majesty and holiness (vs. 3-4); and how God’s people respond to God’s character and God’s ways, viz., exaltation and worship (vs. 3, 5, 9). As I thought about these pairs, the triperspectival grid kicked into my thinking (normative – existential – situational).

The normative aspect of the Christian life is God’s character. It is the standard and rule for our lives. We become what we are (children of God becoming like Christ). We are situated in a world where God’s ways are continually brought before us. We see his might and awesome deeds worked on behalf of His people. The situational aspect is that God’s people are in the domain of God’s reign and rule. The existential aspect has to do with how God’s people respond to God’s ways and enter into His presence. The answer is awe, wonder, and worship. We experience God in His character and through His ways so that we would make much of Him and “praise His great and awesome name” (vs. 3). In short, the standard is God’s holiness; the situation is God’s rule; our response is worship. This the matrix of communion with God.

Whenever God’s character is not normative for our lives, we wander off into situations of self-rule rather than divine rule. Our response is not worship of God but self-worship and idolatry. Therefore, the response of God’s people in worship is calibrated by the nearness and experience of God’s character and ways. White hot, fervent, earnest worship is born out of a clear and continual sight of who God is and what God has done for us in Christ. There is no better place to be in all the world than to be under the reign of God beholding the glory of God with others genuine engaged in the worship of God.