PSALM 99#A hymn to God as the king whose grandeur is most clearly seen on Mount Zion (Ps 99:2) and in the laws given to Israel (Ps 99:4). Israel is special because of God’s word of justice, which was mediated by the revered speakers, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel (Ps 99:6–8). The poem is structured by the threefold statement that God is holy (Ps 99:3, 5, 9) and by the twice-repeated command to praise (Ps 99:5, 9).
The Holy King
1The Lord is king, the peoples tremble;
he is enthroned on the cherubim,#Enthroned on the cherubim: cherubim were composite beings with animal and human features, common in ancient Near Eastern art. Two cherubim were placed on the ark (or box) of the covenant in the holy of holies. Upon them God was believed to dwell invisibly, cf. Ex 25:20–22; 1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2; Ps 80:2. the earth quakes.#a. [99:1] Ps 18:8–11; 80:2; 93:1; Ex 25:22; 1 Sm 4:4; 2 Sm 6:2.
2Great is the Lord in Zion,
exalted above all the peoples.
3Let them praise your great and awesome name:
Holy is he!#b. [99:3] Is 6:3.
4O mighty king, lover of justice,
you have established fairness;
you have created just rule in Jacob.#c. [99:4] Ps 72:1; Jer 23:5.
5Exalt the Lord, our God;
bow down before his footstool;#Footstool: a reference to the ark, cf. 1 Chr 28:2; Ps 132:7.#d. [99:5] Ps 132:7.
holy is he!
6Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel among those who called on his name;
they called on the Lord, and he answered them.#e. [99:6] Jer 15:1.
7From the pillar of cloud he spoke to them;
they kept his decrees, the law he had given them.#f. [99:7] Ex 33:9; Nm 12:5.
8O Lord, our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
though you punished their offenses.#g. [99:8] Ex 32:11; Nm 20:12.
9Exalt the Lord, our God;
bow down before his holy mountain;
holy is the Lord, our God.