Psalm 99:1
The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.
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(1) The Lord reigneth.—See Note, Psalm 93:1.

Tremble.—LXX. and Vulg., “be angry.” The optative in this and the following clause is after the LXX.; but the Hebrew is in the ordinary present, the peoples tremble, the earth staggers.

He sitteth.—In original a participle.

Between the cherubims . . .—See Notes on Psalm 80:1.

Psalm 99:1-3. The Lord reigneth, let the people tremble — Namely, such of them as are enemies to God and his truth. He sitteth between the cherubims — Upon the ark; that is, he is present with his people, to protect them and punish their enemies. Let the earth — Namely, the people of the earth; be moved — With fear and trembling. The Lord is great in Zion — Hebrew, The Lord in Zion (that is, who dwelleth in Zion) is great. He is high above all people — Above all the people of the earth who exalt themselves against him. Let them — Namely, all people last mentioned; praise thy great and terrible name — And give thee the glory due unto it; for it is holy — As well as great, and therefore worthy to be praised. The holiness of God’s name makes it truly great to his friends and terrible to his enemies.

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.The Lord reigneth - The Lord, Yahweh, is king. See Psalm 93:1.

Let the people tremble - The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate render this, "Let the people rage" - or, be angry: as if the idea were that God reigned, although the people were enraged, and were opposed to him. The true meaning of the word used here, however, is "tremble," properly signifying to be moved, disturbed, disquieted, thrown into commotion; and then it may mean to be moved with anger, Proverbs 29:9; Isaiah 28:21; or with grief, 2 Samuel 18:33 : or with fear, Psalm 4:4; or with joy, Jeremiah 33:9. Hence, it means to be agitated or moved with fear or reverence; and it refers here to the reverence or awe which one has in the conscious presence of God.

He sitteth between the cherubims - See the notes at Psalm 80:1.

Let the earth be moved - Margin, "stagger." The word means to move or quake. It occurs nowhere else. Compare the notes at Psalm 18:7. See also Habakkuk 3:6, Habakkuk 3:10.


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.

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.

Psalm 99:1

"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.

Psalm 99:2

"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.

Psalm 99:3

"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. 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 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 LORD reigneth; let the {a} people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.

(a) When God delivers his Church all the enemies will have reason to tremble.

1. Jehovah hath proclaimed himself King; the peoples tremble:

Even he that sitteth enthroned upon the cherubim; the earth shaketh.

When Jehovah manifests His sovereignty the nations must needs tremble with awe (Isaiah 64:2), and all the earth must confess His majesty (Psalm 77:18). The title he that sitteth enthroned upon the cherubim (Psalm 80:1) suggests the thought that He Who is supremely exalted in heaven has yet in time past condescended to dwell among His people on earth (1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15).

1–3. Jehovah has proclaimed Himself King in Zion: let all the earth worship this Holy God.

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). Psalm 99:1The three futures express facts of the time to come, which are the inevitable result of Jahve's kingly dominion bearing sway from heaven, and here below from Zion, over the world; they therefore declare what must and will happen. The participle insidens cherubis (Psalm 80:2, cf. Psalm 18:11) is a definition of the manner (Olshausen): He reigns, sitting enthroned above the cherubim. נוּט, like Arab. nwd, is a further formation of the root na, nu, to bend, nod. What is meant is not a trembling that is the absolute opposite of joy, but a trembling that leads on to salvation. The Breviarium in Psalterium, which bears the name of Jerome, observes: Terra quamdiu immota fuerit, sanari non potest; quando vero mota fuerit et intremuerit, tunc recipiet sanitatem. In Psalm 99:3 declaration passes over into invocation. One can feel how the hope that the "great and fearful Name" (Deuteronomy 10:17) will be universally acknowledged, and therefore that the religion of Israel will become the religion of the world, moves and elates the poet. The fact that the expression notwithstanding is not קדושׁ אתּה, but קדושׁ הוּא, is explained from the close connection with the seraphic trisagion in Isaiah 6:3. הוּא refers to Jahve; He and His Name are notions that easily glide over into one another.
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