Matthew Poole's Commentary
The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.THE ARGUMENT
This Psalm is supposed to be David’s, and the matter of it seems to suit to his time and the state of affairs which then was; although as David was a type of Christ, so this Psalm may look beyond David unto the Messias. But it doth not speak so fully nor clearly of the Messias as the foregoing Psalms do.
The psalmist setteth forth the weighty power of God in Zion, Psalm 99:1,2. God’s holiness a reason for our praising him, Psalm 99:3, Equity and righteousness executed in Jacob, Psalm 99:4. The church exhorted by the example of their forefathers, Psalm 99:5-8, to praise and magnify him in his holy hill, Psalm 99:9.
The people, to wit such are are enemies to God and to his people. Between the cherubims; upon the ark. See 1 Samuel 4:4. He is present with his people to protect them, and to punish their enemies. The earth; the people of the earth, by comparing this clause with the former. Be moved, to wit, with fear and trembling, as in the former clause.
The LORD is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people.The Lord is great in Zion: in the Hebrew text the words lie in this order, The Lord in Zion (i.e. which dwelleth in Zion, as is said, Psalm 9:11 Isaiah 8:18 Joel 3:21) is great.
Above all people; above all the people of the earth, of whom he spake Psalm 99:1, who shall exalt themselves against him.
Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.Them, to wit, all people, last mentioned.
For it is holy; for it is not only great, but holy, and therefore most praise-worthy.
The king's strength also loveth judgment; thou dost establish equity, thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob.The King’s strength also loveth judgment; though his dominion be absolute and uncontrollable, and his power irresistible, yet he doth not abuse it to tyranny and oppression, as the princes of the world commonly do, but tempers and manageth it with righteousness; and not only doth judge justly, but, which is more, loves to do so. The King’s strength is by a known Hebraism put for the strong or powerful King.
Establish equity, to wit, in all thy proceedings. Equity is thy constant and stable course. In Jacob; amongst thine own people; who, when they do amiss, he punisheth no less than other people, as he notes below, Psalm 99:8, whereby he showeth that he is no respecter of persons, but a righteous and impartial Judge to all sorts of men.
Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.At his footstool; before the ark, which is so called,
1 Chronicles 28:2 Psalm 132:7.
For he is holy; or rather, for it, to wit, the ark, is holy; it is consecrated to be a pledge of God’s presence, and the only place of God’s public worship.
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 presseth them to perform the duty of praising and worshipping God by the examples of three eminent persons who practised this duty, and that with happy success. He reckoneth Moses among the priests not without cause, partly because before the institution of the priesthood he executed that office, Exodus 24:6 Num 7; and partly because he oft interceded to God for the people; which was a very considerable part of the priest’s work. See Numbers 6:23, &c.; Joel 2:17. That call upon his name; who used frequently and solemnly to intercede with God on the behalf of the people. So the general expression is here used synecdoehically for this particular kind of prayer; such synecdoches being very frequent in Scripture.
He answered them; Moses, Exodus 32, and elsewhere; Aaron, Numbers 16, 1 Samuel 7:9 12:19: compare Jeremiah 15:1.
He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them.Unto them, i.e. to some of them; for the expression is only indefinite, and therefore doth not necessarily reach to all of them: to Moses frequently; to Aaron, Exodus 19:24 33:9-11 Numbers 12:5; and for Samuel, he answered him, if not by words, yet really and by his actions, thundering against the Philistines, 1 Samuel 7:9, &c, which supposeth a cloud, if not a cloudy pillar.
They kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them: this is added, not only for their commendation, but for the instruction of the Israelites, to teach them that God will not hear the prayers of them who do not keep his commandments.
Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.Answeredst them; the intercessors before mentioned. Forgavest them; either,
1. Moses and Aaron, who did sin, and whose sins God did pardon, yet so that he did punish them with exclusion from the land of Canaan; of which see Numbers 20:12 Deu 32:50,51. Or rather,
2. The people for whom they prayed; which, though not expressed, may be easily understood from the following words, and from the histories to which these words relate. For this forgiving was evidently the effect of God’s answering the prayers of the persons above mentioned. And therefore as their prayers recorded in Scripture were not for the pardon of their own sins, but for the pardon of the people’s sins; so this forgiveness granted was for the sins of the people. And whereas the people are not here mentioned, it must be remembered that in Scripture the relative is frequently put without the antecedent, as it is Numbers 7:89 Psalm 114:2 Proverbs 14:26.
Though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions: this clause limits and explains the former. Thou didst forgive the sins of the people, not absolutely and universally, for thou didst punish them severely, but so far as not to inflict that total and final destruction upon them which they deserved, and thou hadst threatened. See Exodus 32:10,14,34.
Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.At his holy hill; either in Zion; or in his church typified by it, and oft called Zion.