Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 99b

Worship at his Holy Hill

Having been introduced in the first half of this psalm to Christ as King, and having seen the expected regality and rule, we now turn to something a little unexpected, for the second half of this psalm presents Christ as Priest.

I say ‘a little unexpected’, for while we as Christians are very familiar with our Lord being a King-Priest – ‘after the order of Melchisedec’ (Hebs 7:11), a subject we will develop more fully when we get to Psalm 110 – we must remind ourselves that to be a King-Priest is a very rare position.

Aside from Melchisedec, only a few others could be said to operate in some measure as a King-Priest, and I’m thinking of Moses and Samuel. Both were great leaders of Israel, but neither was truly their King (Deut 17:14, 1 Sam 8:7); and while both were of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, and stood before God interceding for Israel, neither was High Priest. 

That honour went to Aaron and his descendents, and now at this pivotal point of the psalm, we find these three great characters of Israel’s past brought together, before One who is greater than them all. For Christ is not only the King of Kings, but now we see Him as the Great High Priest.

Christ’s Priestly Ministry on Earth

‘Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them. Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions. Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.’ (v6-9)

As we said yesterday, this psalm looks forward to days of millennial glory. So while there is overlap between our appreciation of Christ as our Great High Priest in the heavens, in this psalm we find Him on earth.

I want to simply bring out four points that will be physically true in this millennial day, but can also be spiritually enjoyed by us today.

He answers our prayer

How precious that the One who is majestic and mighty, is One that we can call upon. He is not so high that He cannot hear the feeble whimper of a suffering saints. 

We can number ourselves with Moses, Aaron and Samuel, as those who call upon His name, and we have the confidence, that just as He answered them, so He will answer us.

‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ (Hebs 4:16)

He guides our path

When we think of the cloudy pillar, we think of guidance, both physical and spiritual. 

Physically, ‘the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.’ (Exo 13:21)

Spiritually, ‘the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.’ (Exo 33:9)

Both these thought are brought together beautifully in Psalm 119:105, ‘Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’.

He is our propitiation

Yesterday, we hinted at Isaiah’s response to seeing the holiness of the LORD, but you’ll remember that he was brought to realise his utter sinfulness: ‘Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips’ (Isa 6:5)

Our response would be the same were it not for the fact that we know the One who sits upon the throne, our Great a High Priest is our propitiation.

He has acted judicially in regard to our sin, taking it upon Himself, and satisfying God’s righteous demands. Now, He forgives, fully and freely.

John would remind us: ‘these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world’. (1 John 2:1,2)

He accepts our praise

We conclude this psalm with a call to worship. Not now in humility ‘at His footstool’ (v5), but in joyous holiness, we are called to ‘worship at His holy hill’.

Therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.’ (Hebs 13:15)

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