Psalm 99 (NRSV)
Praise to God for His Holiness
1The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
3Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!
Psalm 138:2 (ESV)
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
4Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
5Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!
The fundamental idea behind the Hebrew word qadosh which occurs three times in this psalm (verses 3,5,9) is apart or separate. A place where the Lord once appeared may be called “holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). Or a place where God is especially present may be described as a “holy temple” (Psalm 11:4; Habakkuk 2:20). In modern Israel to this day, a place of special significance is called a maqom qadosh or “holy place.”
Thus to say that God is holy is to stress the otherness or separateness of God. Isaiah saw the Lord and heard the angels singing “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). The twentieth-century theologian Karl Barth liked to speak of God as “wholly other.”
Yet, according to the Bible, the Lord has not cut off contact with humans but is active among them. Hosea put it this way, “I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst” (Hosea 11:9). The fourth Gospel speaks the same way, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14).
–James Limburg (Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota)
6Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the Lord, and he answered them.
7He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them.
8O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.
“This psalm rather remarkably draws together the key elements of Israel’s faith tradition. God’s enthronement makes holy presence accessible and makes righteous will more urgent. Neither emphasis can be minimized without distorting who this ruling one is.”
HERE is “Holy, Holy” by Tim Hughes.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.