Some Introductory Thoughts on Psalm 99

Though some divide this psalm by the threefold “holy” refrain, this structure makes the stanzas of dramatically different lengths while ignoring the content of the psalm. It seems best to divide the psalm into two portions with the division being determined by the content.

This psalm is the last in a series of psalms, beginning with Psalm 93, that praise the Lord for his reign over Israel and the nations (e.g., Psalm 93:1; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1). These “enthronement” psalms occur toward the beginning of book four of the psalms and share several themes, most notably

  • Emphasis on the Lord’s reign over all nations (not just Israel though Israel is included) and its ramifications (Psalm 93:1; 94:2, 10; 95:3; 96:4-6, 7-9, 10; 97:1, 98:2, 7-8),
  • The Lord’s holiness (Psalm 93:5; 96:9; 97:10, 12; 99:3, 5, 9),
  • The Lord’s creative power (Psalm 93:1; 94:9; 95:4-5, 6b; 96:5b)
  • The Lord’s superiority to other gods (Psalm 95:3; 96:4-5; 97:7, 9),
  • The Lord’s judgment on the wicked and vindication of the righteous (Psalm 94:1-3, 13, 15, 21-23; 96:10, 12; 97:10-11; 98:8; 99:4),
  • Calls to worship (or descriptions of worship) made to Israel and the nations (Psalm 95:1-2, 6; 96:1-3, 7-10; 98:4-6; 99:3, 5, 9), and
  • Calls to worship to all of creation (Psalm 93:3; 96:1, 11-12a; 97:1, 6; 98:7-8).
Psalm 99 highlights the reign of God (vv. 1, 4) in holiness (vv. 3, 5, 9) which brings justice and equity to the nations on behalf of Israel (v. 4) while striking terror into the nations (vv. 1, 3) who have oppressed him and encourages Israel to remember the faithfulness of the Lord to past leaders of Israel (vv. 6-7a) who obeyed him (v. 7b) though he punished Israel’s disobedience (v. 8). The concluding verse (v. 9) calls upon Israel, specifically, to worship the Lord because of his holiness.
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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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2 Responses to Some Introductory Thoughts on Psalm 99

  1. I LIKE HOW THE TRANSCENDENCE OF 1-5 IS CONTRASTED WITH THE IMMANENCE OF 6-7. VS. 8 APPEARS TO BRING BOTH TOGETHER, AND VS. 9 WORSHIPS THE LORD BECAUSE OF HIS HOLINESS. COULD HOLINESS RELATE TO BOTH CONCEPTS?

  2. Beyond noticing immanence and transcendence I hadn't thought of how holiness could be connected to both.Something for further study before I finalize the paper.

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