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Psalms: Chapter 99

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1 a‐ Clauses transposed for clarity. The LORD, enthroned on cherubim, is king, peoples tremble, the earth quakes. ‐a Clauses transposed for clarity. 2The LORD is great in Zion, and exalted above all peoples. 3They praise Your name as great and awesome; He is holy! 4 b‐ Meaning of Heb. uncertain. Mighty king ‐b Meaning of Heb. uncertain. who loves justice, it was You who established equity, You who worked righteous judgment in Jacob. 5Exalt the LORD our God and bow down to His footstool; He is holy! 6Moses and Aaron among His priests, Samuel, among those who call on His name— when they called to the LORD, He answered them. 7He spoke to them in a pillar of cloud; they obeyed His decrees, the law He gave them. 8O LORD our God, You answered them; You were a forgiving God for them, but You exacted retribution for their misdeeds. 9Exalt the LORD our God, and bow toward His holy hill, for the LORD our God is holy.

Notes:

a‐a Clauses transposed for clarity.

b‐b Meaning of Heb. uncertain.

Text Commentary view alone

Ps. 99 :

The final kingship psalm. Much of vv. 1–4 is similar to the previous kingship psalms, while vv. 5–9 , framed by a refrain and focused on prophetic intercession and divine response, are unique.

1 :

Quaking of people and nature accompanies theophanies (Exod. 19.16, 18 ). Enthroned on cherubim refers to God's presence in the Temple, where the Ark serves as His throne (see 1 Sam. 4.4 n. ). This kingship psalm, more than the others, focuses on God's presence in the Jerusalem Temple (vv. 5, 9 ) in Zion (v. 2 ).

2 :

God is exalted over all peoples, rather than greater than other gods, as in 95.3; 96.4; 97.9 , though some LXX manuscripts here read “gods, divine beings” rather than peoples.

3 :

Great and awesome are also paired in the kingship psalms 47.3 and 96.4 . He is holy! may be the actual words of praise; see Isa. 6.3 , where the seraphs declare: “Holy, holy, holy! The LORD of Hosts! His presence fills all the earth!”

4 :

Similar themes and vocabulary are used in 97.2 and 98.9 .

5 :

The typical call to worship. Several LXX manuscripts suggest that “ki,” “for” has been lost before He is holy (see the parallel in v. 9 ); this would fit the typical pattern (see introduction to Ps. 95). The footstool is the Ark (see 1 Chron. 28.2 ); the phrase is only known in exilic and later literature (Isa. 66.1; Lam. 2.1 ).

6 :

In contrast to the Priestly tradition, Moses is viewed as a priest. The singling out of Samuel as an intercessor is somewhat surprising, though he sometimes has that role in Samuel (e.g., 1 Sam. 19.5, 9 ). Priests and prophets, but no king is mentioned; perhaps this highlights the incomparable nature of God's kingship.

8 :

This v. is puzzling; it seems to telescope, with some changes, the traditions preserved elsewhere in the Bible. Moses and Samuel also appear together as intercessors in Jer. 15.1 . God does not appear in a pillar of cloud to Samuel. Decrees in reference to Samuel may mean laws pertaining to the monarchy (1 Sam. 8.9, 11; 10.25 ). This v. seems to be an oblique request for a divine answer for the psalmist. It is one of many biblical reuses of the divine attributes of Exod. 34.6–7 ; specifically You were a forgiving God for them reflects “forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin,” while but You exacted retribution for their misdeeds reworks “yet He does not remit all punishment.”

9 :

Although the phrase holy hill is found in Psalms (e.g., 15.1), it predominates in Deutero‐Isaiah (e.g., 56.7), offering a final connection between that prophet and the kingship psalms.

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