Last week I sat in the living room listening to a two-year old and his grandfather as they were playing. Using magnetic pieces of plastic and a lot of imagination, they were building things. A structure was built and then the two-year old would yell, “Layne runned over it!” and suddenly the structure they had put together was demolished. Then the process would start over again. With Godzilla-like power, buildings fell under his tiny but mighty foot, and the grandfather laughed and laughed.
Our Psalm today talks about the power of God in similar terms. God is strong. The Lord is great. The nations shake and the earth quakes in his presence:
Psalm 99 (Common English Bible)
The Lord rules—
the nations shake!
He sits enthroned on the winged heavenly creatures—
the earth quakes!
2 The Lord is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them thank your great and awesome name.
He is holy!
4 Strong king who loves justice,
you are the one who established what is fair.
You worked justice and righteousness in Jacob.
We see a different aspect of God’s power now, as the psalmist extols God’s love for justice and righteousness. These are qualities of strength that we need in our leaders. God is our strong king, and no human power can compare.
5 Magnify the Lord, our God!
Bow low at his footstool!
He is holy!
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel too among those who called on his name.
They cried out to the Lord, and he himself answered them—
7 he spoke to them from a pillar of cloud.
They kept the laws and the rules God gave to them.
In recalling the leaders of the past, the psalmist points to the covenant relationship of a God who rules through designated people. The laws and rules of God allow the covenant relationship to flourish when both sides adhere to God’s will and God’s rule. You can see the admiration the psalmist has for a God who speaks to his people from a pillar of cloud and answers them when the cry out to him.
8 Lord our God, you answered them.
To them you were a God who forgives
but also the one who avenged their wrong deeds.
Are you crying out to God today? Do you need the benefit of his power, the gentleness of his forgiveness, the satisfaction of his vengeance, and the swift relief of his answer? Our psalm today reminds us to cry out to him, and he will answer. When we submit our situation to our mighty God, he comes to our aid. It is time to bow low before him.
9 Magnify the Lord our God!
Bow low at his holy mountain
because the Lord our God is holy!