|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
99:1-5 God governs the world by his providence, governs the church by his grace, and both by his Son. The inhabitants of the earth have cause to tremble, but the Redeemer still waits to be gracious. Let all who hear, take warning, and seek his mercy. The more we humble ourselves before God, the more we exalt him; and let us be thus reverent, for he is holy.
Verse 1. - The Lord reigneth (see the comment on Psalm 93:1). Let the people tremble; literally, the peoples; i.e. all the nations upon earth. He sitteth between the cherubim; rather, he hath his seat upon the cherubim (comp. Psalm 80:2). The imagery is taken from the internal economy of the Jewish temple, where the Shechinah was enthroned above the cherubic forms that overshadowed and guarded the ark. Let the earth be moved; or, quake (comp. Psalm 114:7).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The Lord reigneth,.... The King Messiah, he is made and declared Lord and Christ; he has reigned, does reign, and ever will; see Psalm 93:1,
let the people tremble: with awe of his majesty, and reverence of his word and ordinances; rejoicing before him with trembling, as his own people and subjects do, Psalm 2:11, and so it agrees with Psalm 97:1, or it may be understood of the people that are enemies to Christ, who would not have him to reign, though he shall whether they will or not; and who will sooner or later tremble for fear of him, and his righteous judgment. Jarchi refers this to the war of Gog and Magog. The Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions, render it, "let the people be angry"; or it may be rendered, "they are angry"; or "therefore they are angry"; because he reigns; so the people, both Jews and Gentiles, were angry and raged, when his kingdom was first visibly set up among them, Psalm 2:1, and so the nations will when he takes to himself his great power, and reigns, Revelation 11:18,
he sitteth between the cherubim; "upon" or "above", as the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions; alluding to the seat of the Shechinah, or divine Majesty, in the holy of holies; and respects either the exalted glory of Christ among the angels, and above them at the right hand of God, where they are subject to him, stand about him, ready to do his will; or rather his presence with his ministers of the word, who are the instruments of spreading his Gospel, and enlarging his kingdom and interest in the world; See Gill on Psalm 80:1.
let the earth be moved: not that itself out of its place, but the inhabitants of it; and these either with a sense of sin and duty, and become subject to Christ their King; or with wrath and indignation at him, or through fear of him, as before; Kimchi says, at the fall of Gog and Magog; it may be particularly understood of the land of Judea, and of the commotion in it, especially in Jerusalem, when the tidings were brought of the birth of the King Messiah, Matthew 2:1, or of the shaking and moving both of the civil and ecclesiastical state of the nation, and of the ruin of it; see Hebrews 12:26.
The Treasury of David
1 The Lord reigneth; let the people tremble; he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.
2 The Lord is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people.
3 Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.
"The Lord reigneth." One of the most joyous utterances which ever leaped from mortal lip. The overthrow of the reign of evil and the setting up of Jehovah's kingdom of goodness, justice, and truth, is worthy to be hymned again and again, as we have it here for the third time in the Psalms. "Let the people tremble." Let the chosen people feel a solemn yet joyful awe, which shall thrill their whole manhood. Saints quiver with devout emotion, and sinners quiver with terror when the rule of Jehovah is fully perceived and felt. It is not a light or trifling matter, it is a truth which, above all others, should stir the depths of our nature. "He sitteth between the cherubims." In grandeur of sublime glory, yet in nearness of mediatorial condescension, Jehovah revealed himself above the mercy-seat, whereon stood the likeness of those flaming ones who gaze upon his glory, and for ever cry, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts." The Lord reigning on that throne of grace which is sprinkled with atoning blood, and veiled with the covering wings of mediatorial love, is above all other revelations wonderful, and fitted to excite emotion among all mankind, hence it is added, "Let the earth be moved." Not merely "the people," but the whole earth should feel a movement of adoring awe when it is known that on the mercy seat God sits as universal monarch. The pomp of heaven surrounds him, and is symbolised by the outstretched wings of waiting cherubs; let not the earth be less moved to adoration, rather let all her tribes bow before his infinite majesty, yea, let the solid earth itself with reverent tremor acknowledge his presence.
"The Lord is great in Zion." Of old the temple's sacred hill was the centre of the worship of the great King, and the place where his grandeur was most clearly beheld: his church is now his favoured palace, where his greatness is displayed, acknowledged, and adored. He there unveils his attributes and commands the lowliest homage; the ignorant forget him, the wicked despise him, the atheistical oppose him, but among his own chosen he is great beyond comparison. He is great in the esteem of the gracious, great in his acts of mercy, and really great in himself: great in mercy, power, wisdom, justice, and glory. "And he is high above all the people;" towering above their highest thoughts and loftiest conceptions. The highest are not high to him, yet, blessed be his name, the lowliest are not despised by him. In such a God we rejoice, his greatness and loftiness are exceedingly delightful in our esteem; the more he is honoured and exalted in the hearts of men, the more exultant are his people. If Israel delighted in Saul because he was head and shoulders above the people, how much more should we exult in our God and King, who is as high above us as the heavens are above the earth.
"Let them praise thy great and terrible name:" let all the dwellers in Zion and all the nations upon the earth praise the Lord, or "acknowledge thankfully" the goodness of his divine nature, albeit that there is so much in it which must inspire their awe. Under the most terrible aspect the Lord is still to be praised. Many profess to admire the milder beams of the sun of righteousness, but burn with rebellion against its more flaming radiance: so it ought not to be: we are bound to praise a terrible God and worship him who casts the wicked down to hell. Did not Israel praise him "who overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea, lot his mercy endureth for ever." The terrible Avenger is to be praised, as well as the loving Redeemer. Against this the sympathy of man's evil heart with sin rebels; it cries out for an effeminate God in whom pity has strangled justice. The well-instructed servants of Jehovah praise him in all the aspects of his character, whether terrible or tender. Grace streaming from the mercy-seat can alone work in us this admirable frame of mind. "For it is holy," or "He is holy." In him is no flaw or fault, excess or deficiency, error or iniquity. He is wholly excellent, and is therefore called holy. In his words, thoughts, acts, and revelations as well as in himself, he is perfection itself. O come let us worship and bow down before him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 99:1-9. God's government is especially exercised in and for His Church, which should praise Him for His gracious dealings.
1. sitteth … cherubim—(compare 1Sa 4:4; Ps 80:1).
tremble … be moved—inspired with fear by His judgments on the wicked.
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