6” Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them. 7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them. 8 O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings. 9 Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!” (Psalm 99:6-9)
Psalm 99:1-5 speaks of the transcendent holiness of God. The adjective “transcendent” means superior, excellent, supreme and divine. Transcendent is a term teaching that God is separated from man and above man. God is transcendent in that He is holy and man is sinful. The LORD is transcendent because He is infinite and man is finite. God is “wholly other” than man. Psalm 99:1-4 reveals the truth of the LORD’s transcendent holiness, while vs. 5 is the believer’s response to this truth.
Psalm 99:6-9 also speaks of the intimate holiness of God. The adjective intimate suggests the concept of the closeness of God, the nearness of God, the warmness and friendliness of God. Intimacy is the opposite of distant.
Therefore, Psalm 99 strikes a wonderful balance between the transcendent holiness of God which is superior, supreme and divine and the intimate holiness of God which is personal, private and innermost within the soul of the believer. Both perspectives of God’s holiness are necessary for they both are biblically presented in this psalm.
Psalm 99:6-8 is an account of God’s intimate revelation of Himself to Israel and her leaders. Psalm 99:9 is the believer’s response to such revelation.
“Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them.” Moses and Aaron were among His priests. Moses, the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver. Aaron, elder brother of Moses (Exodus 7:7) and a priest (Exodus 31:10). Both Moses and Aaron offered sacrifices to God on behalf of Israel. Samuel, was a judge, a priest and a prophet immediately prior to the united kingdom under Saul, David and Solomon (I Samuel 1:20-28:20).
All three proclaimed the person and work of the LORD God Almighty. All three shouted and proclaimed HIs name. They directed the people to the LORD. They wanted the peoples focus to be upon the LORD and Him alone. The result was that Yahweh responded to them.
“In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them; they kept his testimonies and the statute that he gave them.” The pillar refers to a vertical column of water particles. In other words, a cloud which according to Exodus 13:21 represents the Shekinah Glory of God. It was through this visible manifestation that the LORD literally spoke to Israel. Although they did not do so perfectly, Israel kept His testimonies. God’s chosen people guarded the LORD’s written testimony and His law along with His regulations and thoughts. By placing law in Israel’s possession, the LORD was giving an indication its inherent value and worth.
“O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.” Yahweh, our Elohim, answered Israel with gracious forgiveness when they sinned against Him. He carried their sins away (Leviticus 16). At the same time, because of His holiness, He was also an avenger. Who paid back harm with harm justice and punishment because of Israel’s depraved and immoral deeds.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “The psalmist spoke of the Lord’s merciful dealings with his ancestors in spite of Israel’s iniquities. Moses … Aaron, and Samuel prayed and were answered. God spoke to them (i.e., Israel) from the pillar of cloud (cf. Ex. 13:21) and they obeyed. Even after Israel sinned and was punished, the Lord … answered their prayers and forgave them. So praise is due this Monarch not only because of His holiness (Ps. 99:3, 5) but also because of His merciful dealings with His people. God’s mercy prevents His own from being consumed by His righteous judgment.”
“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!” What is to be the believer’s response to such graciousness and holiness? Praise and exultation of course. Believers are commanded to worship Yahweh our Elohim: the LORD our God. Within the Old Testament context, worship was to be done at God’s holy mountain: Jerusalem. See Psalm 43:1-3; 48:1; 87:1.
Why does God command the believer to worship? It is because Yahweh, our Elohim is holy. He is infinitely holy in His person, nature and behavior. He never does His creation wrong for He is sacred and set apart from sin.
The believer’s worship of the LORD is not optional but optimal. It is to be the priority of our lives. Nothing should interfere with our daily, and weekly, worship of the LORD. Why? It is because He is holy.
Soli deo Gloria!