Exalt the Lord our God,
And worship at His holy hill;
For the Lord our God is holy
A key barometer of how we treat God is our worship. This fact was true in Old Testament days when God's people sometimes had great respect for God and at other times followed their own ideas. At such times they might still observe the outward forms of worship, or they might forsake appearances and follow after idols. Either way, they forgot about the LORD and failed to treat Him with respect. We can do the same today when we casually bring all our sinful baggage with us on Sunday, or forget that He is holy, or perhaps do not even truly know the God we claim to worship. Such lack of respect will be evident in our relationship with Him.
1) THE LORD REIGNS
True worship reveals our respect for His HOLINESS. That is the message of Psalm 99 which begins:
"The LORD reigns; let the people tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved! The LORD is great in Zion; and He is high above all the peoples" (Psalm 99:1-2).
The reference to God's sitting "between the cherubum" may also be a reference to His divine nature. Cherubim and seraphim are angelical beings created by God to praise Him. In several passages the Bible describes the cherubim as surrounding God's heavenly throne, attesting to His HOLINESS."And one cried to another, and said, holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6:3). Truly, this is a God who can make the earth to quake at His power and presence!
God reigns, and He is "great in Zion." This is another name for Jerusalem, the city of His choosing, where His "shekinah" glory once grace the tabernacle and then the temple. To say the Lord is great in Zion may be an affirmation that God is great among His people.
After the psalmist praise the God who is mighty over the tabernacle and over the city, the progression continues. For the LORD is "high above all the people." Even kings cannot compare to His greatness! Yet even as we tremble before Him, we are comforted to know that God who dwells "above all the people" can see all things. He is in control of every detail of our lives and He cares intensely about His people. A right view of God sees Him in all of the glory that the Bible attributes to Him. Such a view compels us to treat Him with the awesome respect that is His due. When we view His glory we will bow with the psalmist in true worship and declare,
"Let the praise Your great and awesome name - He is holy" (psalm 99:3).
2) THE LORD IS RIGHTEOUS
The Scriptures affirm that this God who has the power to do anything chooses to do the right thing. Of God the psalmist sings, "The King's strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob" (Psalm 99:4).
God exercises perfect justice every time. He always establishes equitable decision, always forms righteous plans, and always does justly. Why? Because He is holy. Therefore we are to "exalt the LORD our God, and worship at His footstool - He is holy" (Psalm 99:5).
Because He is God and therefore reigns in perfect equity and justice, we must exalt Him. This exaltation presupposes that we truly;y know God's attributes - and that knowledge comes only through a vibrant personal relationship with Him. Anyone can know about God or even use words from the Bible when in worship. But an intellectual knowledge of the LORD is not enough. Even "the demons believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). Those who do not know God cannot exalt His attributes. It is for this reason that we often see worship that suggests the worshipers know a god of wealth or pleasure, or they know only of mere religion. In contrast, TRUE WORSHIP lifts up the name of God because the worshipers know Him intimately.
One necessary means of calling proper attention to God is His people's assuming their proper place before Him. The psalmist enjoins us to "worship at His footstool," giving a picture of our obeisance before His kingly throne. Psalm 93 through Psalm 99 are in fact called the "Royal Psalms," because they exalt the majestic King JEHOVAH.
Ancient thrones often sat on a platform atop several steps. Once the king had ascended the steps, he could sit on the throne and put his feet on the footstool that was attached to the throne. The footstool existed for his comfort. However, the footstool also became a picture of subservience and subjugation. Sometimes the footstool was carved with the likeness of the king's enemies. When the king put his feet on the stool, everyone was reminded that the king had brought these enemies into subjection.
God's footstool reminds us that He is the King. Many times in the Scriptures we read that God will make of His enemies a footstool. Other passages state that the LORD has His footstool in the tabernacle, and in others the LORD declares that "the earth is [His] footstool" (Isaiah 66:1, Acts 7:49). In all these references we are reminded that God is exalted as we worship in our proper place of submission.
Such submission can be joyfully given to God because of His HOLINESS "You testimonies are very sure: holiness adorns Your house, O LORD, forever" (Psalm 93:5). God's holiness permits the perfect marriage of might and right. Indeed, God's HOLINESS is the symphony of all of His attributes - attributes that the human mind cannot fully comprehend. God is angry at sin and yet is full of love. He pours out wrath against rebels and yet is altogether long suffering. His holiness is the glue that joins thses attributes together. His strength loves justice. He both establishes equity and executes righteousness. TRUE WORSHIP will exalt such a God!
(an extract from True Worship by David Whitcomb and Mark Ward, Sr.)