The Lord is my King.
Psalm 99 (A Psalm of David):
1The LORD is king! Let the nations tremble! He sits on His throne between the cherubim. Let the whole earth quake! 2The LORD sits in majesty in Jerusalem, exalted above all the nations. 3Let them praise Your great and awesome name. Your name is holy!
6Moses and Aaron were among His priests; Samuel also called on His name. They cried to the LORD for help, and He answered them. 7He spoke to Israel from the pillar of cloud, and they followed the laws and decrees He gave them. 8O LORD our God, You answered them. You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong. 9Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His holy mountain in Jerusalem, for the LORD our God is holy!
Psalm 99 begins with a rousing declaration in verse 1: The LORD is king. This is not an optional statement. Because God is God, He MUST be on the throne. One of the hardest concepts for Christ-followers to grasp is the notion that God is God and we are not.
Even though God “sits” firmly (verses 1b & 2) on the throne we are busy rushing, panicking, and fretting about everything and anything. If God exists (and He does) then He MUST be the completely sovereign king of the universe He created. Thus, God alone is sufficient to quiet and still our souls.
Rest assured, not only has God created everything He sustains everything He created. If God ceased to sustain, creation could not and would not exist. ‘This’ wouldn’t even be happening right now.
While we’re busy worrying God is sitting. God never rushes. As a result, neither should we. Because God is God, His Name is defined as great and awesome (verse 3). He is by very definition ‘great’ and ‘awesome,’ which is summed up by His holiness.
God’s holiness indicates that He is completely unique. He is wholly different from anything in His creation. Our Creator sits enthroned above everything (and I don’t mean in terms of altitude). God is so far above us that He is unfathomable to understand with our finite minds. Still, God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in some capacity (which we are not owed).
As a result, verse 3 calls for His Name to be praised. What else can we do?! Our mouths are but silenced and wowed by this majestic, mighty, awesome, holy God. It’s only because God made us ‘in His image’ we can even speak. Luke 19:46 says that even the stones will cry out at the Name of Jesus even if we as His created beings remain quiet. All creation declares His glory.
The psalmist switches gears in verse 4 outlining that as Lord of all creation, God is the only one who can establish fairness and justice. I don’t know about you but I am sometimes very quick to judge, make assumptions, and “poke holes” in others. This is the evidence of my sinfulness in trying to “play” judge. There’s only ONE Judge of the universe and it isn’t you or me. This reality leads the psalmist to declare in verse 5, Exalt the LORD our God! Bow low before His feet, for He is holy!
In verse 6 the psalmist uses the examples of Moses, Aaron, and Samuel as those servants who called on the Name of the Lord. They cried to Him for help and acknowledged their need for their Creator. Because HE is God we don’t always know what He’s doing. Therefore, we were made to rest in our Heavenly Father. He is the answer to all our ‘why’s,’ ‘how’s,’ and ‘what-if’s.’
Verse 7 shows God speaking to Israel from the “pillar of a cloud.” Would I ever think to listen for God’s voice from the pillar of a cloud? I often think (incorrectly) that God only speaks in the things I deem ‘good.’ When everything is going well I listen for God’s voice there. When everything is not going well I think God can’t be in it. Do I ever ask God how He’s coming to me through the things I don’t think are ‘good’?
Perhaps my shortness of breath and fretting is a “check engine” light. God is telling me in my body to slow down, relax, take a breath, and listen to Him. However most times that I feel anxiety in my body I take it as an invitation to press down harder, keep going stronger, and grasp tighter. I end up exhausted. And I still wonder why that’s the case.
It’s with this in mind that something like verse 8 often causes me to shrink back in anger. “O LORD our God, You answered them. You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished them when they went wrong.” When we choose to turn away from God there are consequences. I don’t know about you but when I decide to take life into my own hands I make a hot mess of things. Then, I blame God.
As we see via the history of Israel in the Old Testament I’m not alone in this and neither are you. Yes, God is a forgiving God but He is also just (as we’ve touched on already). This should create a sense of awe and reverence deep inside of us leading us to repentance.
The conclusion of the psalm is another call to exalt and worship the Lord, for He is holy (verse 9). God is worthy of our praise not because I or anyone else thinks (or doesn’t think) so. He IS worthy because He MUST be worthy because that’s what it means to be God.
As King of the universe, we can remove the keys from the ignition and get on our knees. We can embrace our limits and take our humble place at the table. A.W. Tozer said this, “God never hurries. There are no deadlines against which He must work. Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.”
We would be wise to heed these words in the midst of a world that seeks to grasp and strive without God. Because God made us as responsible moral beings we’re free to either say ‘Thy will be done,’ or ‘my will be done.’
Keep Looking Up,
Rev. Jon Barrett | Executive Director of CVCCS