“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.

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.

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.

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

Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.” (Psalm 99, NIV)

The LORD reigns. He has always, from eternity past to eternity to come reigned. God reigned through love of His creation, seeing everything as good; until His human image bearers defied the one rule their Creator made; “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Adam ate and he and Eve were expelled from the loving reign of God. Human governments quickly sprung up; from families, to tribes, to city-states to nations. The LORD yet reigns, let the nations tremble. The LORD called a man to leave his family, tribe, city-state and nation, Ur of the Chaldees. Abram answered the call and God promised to make his descendants into a mighty nation and through Abraham’s seed all the nations would be blessed. The LORD reigns, “…he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.”

Broken image bearers of God became a family and then tribes and finally a nation, through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Once they were delivered from bondage to the very human government of Pharaoh in Egypt, God established His own government over Israel in the wilderness. The LORD reigned, through the administration of the Law given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and through the ceremonial laws administered through Aaron and his descendants.

God’s sovereign government of Israel is called a theocracy. It was administered through human agents: Moses and Aaron, Joshua and the Judges, but it was created and directed by the LORD. This was unique among all the other nations and it lasted until the time of Samuel when the children of Israel once again rejected God’s reign. “So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’

…And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.’” [I Samuel 8:4-5, 7]

The LORD still reigns, let the nations tremble. The LORD reigns in might, justice, equity and righteousness, for; “The King is mighty, he loves justice—you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.” [Verse 4]

Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty. “Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations. Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy.” [Verse 2-3] “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.” [Verse 5] “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.” [Verse 9]

Psalm 99 declares these wonderful truths to us, and we should tremble and shake at the impact of these words. As individuals we are not capable of governing our hearts and lives. As states and nations, we are not capable of establishing real justice, equity and righteousness. We are not holy, yet we are all accountable to God.

The LORD reigns, but lest we tremble and shake too much remember; “he sits enthroned between the cherubim.” This is a reference to the covering on the Ark of the Covenant known as “the mercy seat.” The Psalmist remembers and prays, “LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.” [Verse 8]

The LORD does reign, but His reign is characterized by mercy and His mercy is realized in Christ. Jesus Christ is our mercy seat. The writer of Hebrews reminds us; “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.’ The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’ [Mt. Sinai]

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” [Heb. 12:18-24]

Abel’s blood cried to God and brought a curse on Cain. Jesus’s blood cries out to God and brings grace, mercy and peace to all who believe in what Jesus did through His death for sinners. Thus, we cry unto the LORD with the psalmist’s prayers;

  1. For the nations including our own; “Let them praise your great and awesome name—he is holy.”
  2. In praise to our Lord and Savior; “The King is mighty, he loves justice—you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.”
  3. In intercession for forgiveness; “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. LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.”

All our misdeeds have been fully and finally punished in Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. By faith we find the LORD to be a forgiving God to us. As we break bread and drink the cup of the New Covenant remember;

“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.”

Christ Jesus: being in very nature God, made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [From Philippians 2:5-10]

The King is mighty, he loves justice— In Christ God has established equity; in Jacob he has done what is just and right. Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.”

“Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.”  In Christ we are made holy. The LORD reigns, He is a forgiving God.