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Sunday, May 16, 2021

“The LORD Our God Is Holy” Psalm 99 [Matt's Messages]

“The LORD Our God Is Holy”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
May 16, 2021 :: Psalm 99

This is going to be a very simple message today.

But I also hope that it is profound.

Psalm 99 has one major point of application, and that is to exalt and worship the LORD because He is holy.

That’s it.

If you get that, you’ve got it.

If you get that, you’ve got the whole thing.

Psalm 99 calls upon us to exalt and worship the LORD because He is holy.

Listen to the last verse of the whole song. Verse 9.

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.”

You see how that is incredibly simple and also incredibly profound?

What does it mean that the LORD (Yahweh) is holy?

That’s important to understand because it’s the beating heart of this psalm. You see the refrain at the end of verse 3 (“he is holy”) and verse 5 (“he is holy), and then the very end, verse 9 “for the LORD our God is holy.”

Holy, holy, holy. 

Psalm 99 is the like the Psalmic version of Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4.

It declares the utter holiness of God.

So what does that mean?

If something is holy that means that it is “set apart” or “special.”

Did anybody grow up with a home that had a “parlor” in it? You had a living room maybe where you lived but then there was another room that was the “parlor” or the “sitting room?” A special room to entertain guests? It had all of the nice stuff in it? It was set apart for special use.

Or some of you have your Sunday best outfits that you only use for church.
Or a set of plates that are only for holidays or something like that.
Or a set of knives that you only use for processing your deer?
Or a set of tools you only use on your favorite vehicle?

That is not really what holy is, but it starts to get at the idea.

Something special. Something different. Something set off from the others.

Something in a class by itself.

That is what holiness is. It is being set off, set apart, into a special category.

It is “other.”

It’s not like the others, holy is “other.”

And Yahweh, the God of the Bible is other, other, other.

He is in class of His own.

There is none like Him.

Sometimes we think of holiness as moral purity, and that’s right.

Because God is pure, pure, pure.

Pure like nothing else is pure.

Burning pure.

More pure than fire!

But holiness is more than just burning moral purity.

The theologian D.A. Carson says that holy in this context is basically referring to the “sheer ‘Godness’ of God.” “The sheer ‘Godness’ of God.” (For the Love of God, vol 2, reading for October 12)

There is nothing like God and nothing close. He is completely Other.

“He is holy.”
“He is holy.”
“The LORD our God is holy.”

Psalm 99 is one of the royal songs of the Psalter. There is a string of them from Psalm 93 which we looked at back in September to Psalm 100 which is our current memory verse. [See also our Christmas Eve meditation for 2020 on Psalm 98.]

These psalms emphasize the kingship of Yahweh. His reign and rule both now and when His kingdom comes in all of its fullness.

And this psalm emphasizes not just that Yahweh is king but that the LORD is a king like no other. Yahweh is a special king. He the king above all kings. He is the king in a class all by Himself.

This king is utterly holy.

The unnamed songwriter is very skillful. He actually weaves in the name of the LORD seven times which is a number that emphasize completeness. 

And we’ve already noted the repeated refrain, “He is holy.” Three times, once at the end of each section.

But for all of its artistry, this psalm has just one single point of application. Exalt and worship the LORD.


Look with me at verse 1. Psalm 99, verses 1 through 3.

“The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name–he is holy.”

Three things today that I see this psalm teaching us about God’s holiness. Here’s the first one:

#1. THE LORD IS MAJESTIC LIKE NO OTHER.

“He is holy.”

Listen again to verse 1.

“The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.

We could talk all day about the first three words. “The LORD reigns.” Yahweh is sovereign. Yahweh is the king. 

“He sits enthroned between the cherubim.” What does that mean?


And this is from the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holiness.

The Ark symbolized the presence of God and was basically the footstool of the LORD’s throne.

And do you remember the cherubim? They were not little pudgy baby angels, they were these majestic golden winged statues that faced each other over the cover of the Ark of the Covenant and the idea is that the LORD is symbolically sitting in heaven with his feet on the Ark between the cherubim.

How crazy is that?! Mind-blowing.

The LORD is on His throne. The LORD reigns.

And what is the only proper response to that? Worship!

“Let the nations tremble.” “Let the earth shake.”

Why? Verse 2.

“Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.”

He is not just an Israeli god. He is God above all the nations.

He is God above all of the nations of the Earth.

And if you cross Him and rebel, you will lose.

Remember Psalm 2? The nations wanted to rebel, and the LORD just laughed.

All of the nations should tremble in reverent worship! V.3

“Let them praise your great and awesome name–he is holy.”

Sometimes we get too buddy-buddy with God.

Now, God is loving and sweet. He is also a shepherd. He is also near. Those things are gloriously true, as well. We have tasted and seen them in the Psalm this year.

But we should never forget that the LORD is also holy, holy, holy.

He is majestic in a category by Himself.

He is infinitely other and worthy of our worship.

When you are singing worship songs in church, don’t try to work up some kind of an emotional high for yourself. Instead, focus on the sheer "Godness" of God, and you will also find that your emotions are affected!

I’m so thankful that the LORD is sovereign like no other, aren’t you?

I could not have gotten through the last year or even the last week or the last 24 hours[!] without believing and knowing that the LORD is on the throne. And that throne does not budge.

“He is holy.”

The LORD is majestic like no other.

But catch this. He is not just sovereign. He is just! Look at verse 4.

“The King is mighty, he loves justice–you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right. Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.”

There it is again. “He is holy.”

And here the point His holiness is this:

#2. THE LORD IS RIGHTEOUS LIKE NO OTHER.

“He loves justice.” He has “established equity.” He has “done what is just and right.”

Notice that those are prayers directed right to God. This psalmist tells God that He is righteous and just.

That’s an important theme in Psalms, isn’t it? We have seen it again and again this year that the Lord is righteous. He judges justly. He always knows what is right.

I love how this verse brings together the words “might” and “right.”

He is not just mighty. He is righteous.

And His righteousness is mighty and His mightiness is righteous.

Holiness for God means that all of His might always works for what is right.

Did you ever say, “Well, that’s not right?”

All the time, right?!

And there are many wrong things in the world we live in right now.

Our world is broken and crooked and that includes the people in it. Broken and crooked.

But the LORD is unbroken and uncrooked.

“He is holy.”

I think this raises the question are we at all like our Lord? Do we love justice? Because so often we don’t. We, even His children, are often broken and crooked and love brokenness and crookedness when it suits us.

This psalm asks us to examine ourselves and see if we love justice and whether we do what is just and right like our Lord does.

But the main thing this psalm is doing is just declaring to us that God is holy.

He is righteous in a category by Himself.

The sheer "Godness" of God is the sheer justice of God.

And what is the proper response to that? Worship! Verse 5 again.

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.”

But catch this. It gets even better. He is not just sovereign and majestic and exalted like no other. And He is not just righteous and uncrooked and pure and just like no other. He also is gracious and forgiving like no other.

#3. THE LORD IS GRACIOUS LIKE NO OTHER.

And He talks to us. He reveals Himself. He is a communicating God. Look at verse 6.

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the LORD and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.”

This is another feature of the psalms. We haven’t seen as much of it in the ones that we’ve studied in this series, but a number of the psalms tell stories and recount Israel’s history.

Here we’ve got some big names from the history of Israel. Heavy hitters: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. They were all either priests or prophets.

They acted as intermediaries between the people and God and God and the people.

Do you see the great privilege of prayer there in verse 6?

“...they called on the LORD and he answered them!”

This holy God loves to listen to and answer prayers!

And He spoke to Israel from “the pillar of cloud” remember that? It went ahead of them when they traveled in the wilderness and where was it when they stopped?

It was in the middle. In the tabernacle. And so probably Samuel saw it later, too!

And they all heard from God. He gave them His law.


And verse 7 says that they kept it! “They kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.” At least sometimes!

But when they were at their best they loved the law just like we saw last week in Psalm 119.

But what about those times when they did not love the law?

What about those times when they disobeyed? When they went astray? 

Now look at verse 8 and see the holiness of God.

“O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.”

You might think that a holy God cannot forgive sin.

I’m mean, He’s “holy, holy, holy.” 

He is righteous like no other.

Remember what He said about Himself in Exodus 34 verse 7? When He passed in front of Moses?

“He does not leave the guilty unpunished...”

But what did he said in the verse right before that? Exodus 34 verse 6?

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

Now that’s a holy God!

A God so holy that He somehow finds a way to forgive wickedness, rebellion, and sin.

And we know the way!

The way was the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Where God’s holy wrath and God’s holy love met and poured out forgiveness on sinners like you and me!

What is the only proper response to a God like that?

It’s worship! Before the Throne of God Above. Verse 9.

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.”

That’s the one major point of application of this whole psalm!

And notice the tiny little word that is so important that gets added to the refrain. It’s so important.

Verse 3. “He is holy.”

Verse 5. “He is holy.”

Verse 9. “The LORD our God is holy.”

Make sure that He is your God.

Put your faith and trust and hope in the Lord.

And then, exalt Him.

Praise Him!

Worship Him.

We don’t have to go to Jerusalem, to Zion, to that holy mountain.

We can worship in the splendor of His holiness right here, right now.

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.”


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 / Spring 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71

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