Psalm 99

The Word Made Fresh

1The LORD rules! Let the nations recoil!
The LORD is enthroned between the cherubim! Let the earth shiver!
2In Zion the LORD is the Almighty
and is exalted above all the nations.
3All of them should praise your great and terrible name:
God is holy!
4God is the Mighty King, who loves justice
and establishes fairness, justice, and righteousness in Jacob.
5Praise the LORD our God!
Bow down at the LORD’s feet, for the LORD is holy!
6Moses and Aaron were priests,
as was Samuel. They called on the name of the LORD.
7God spoke to them from the cloud.
They obeyed all the laws and statues God had given them.
8LORD God, you answered them.
You were a forgiving God to them, but you punished their crimes.
9Praise the LORD our God!
Worship at God’s sacred mountain,
for the LORD our God is holy!


1-5: This is an “enthronement hymn” extolling God as the Mighty King whose throne is “upon the cherubim,” a reference to the “mercy seat” on the ark of the covenant that was located in the most holy place in the tabernacle in the wilderness, and later in the temple in Jerusalem. The psalm alternates between speaking about God and speaking directly to God. It appears that the psalm is designed to be used as a responsive reading between the priests and the people. The priests’ lines might be those that speak to God (“…praise your great and terrible name”), and the lines that are about God are perhaps for the people to respond (“for the LORD our God is holy!”).

6-7: Tradition is always behind the scenes in the psalms. The priests remember how God spoke to their predecessors – Moses, Aaron, and Samuel – from the “pillar of cloud,” which in this case (since Samuel wasn’t present with the people during the exodus) likely refers to the cloud of smoke from the burning of incense in the sanctuary, and not the cloudbank that led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness.

8-9: The psalm ends with the assurance that God does indeed answer prayers.


Use a notebook, a journal, or your computer to list ways in which you think God acted in your favor in the past. Perhaps a healing has occurred, for you or for a loved one. Or you landed the job you wanted. Or you weren’t hired and wound up in a better employment than that interview would have given you if you had been hired. Be creative. All of us should be able to come up with a long list!