God’s Greater Tabernacle: Psalm 99

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Today’s Sunday Psalms entry is written by Timothy Tennent.

Psalm 99 (NIV)

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.

Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

In this psalm, the psalmist recalls the great figures of Israel’s past. He enshrines in song how Moses, Aaron, and Samuel had faithfully served the Lord (v. 6). They had faithfully called upon the Lord in the earthly tabernacle, which was the place God had ordained for humanity to meet with him. The psalmist also recalls the glory of Mount Sinai when God spoke to his people and gave the law, including the Ten Commandments. And then three times, the phrase “[God] he is holy” appears, almost as an encompassing refrain throughout the psalm (vv. 3, 5, 9). Echoing the great threefold “holy, holy, holy” of Isaiah 6:3 and anticipating the same declaration of the four living creatures in Revelation 4:8, the psalmist reminds us that the holiness of the tabernacle and the mountain were both derived from the presence of God the Lord—who alone is holy.

As Christians, we know that in Jesus Christ a greater tabernacle has come into our midst! It is through Jesus Christ that we have now been brought near to God; not by an earthly tabernacle made by hands, but by the eternal Christ who is the one true Mediator between God and man. When the psalmist calls us to “exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain” (Ps. 99:9) we recall that we “have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm . . . But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem . . . to the church of the firstborn . . . to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 12:18, 22–24). This is the great transaction that the incarnation accomplishes on our behalf. Mercy and redemption are not found at a place, whether a holy mountain or an earthly temple, but in a person, the Lord Jesus Christ!

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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