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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 99

Verse 1

Psalms 99:0.

The prophets setting forth the kingdom of God in Zion, exhorteth all, by the example of their forefathers, to worship God at his holy hill.

This psalm also is attributed to David by the LXX, and most other ancient versions. It seems to relate to his quiet establishment on his throne. The Syriac title tells us, that it treats primarily of the slaughter of the Midianites, and that in its secondary sense it is a prediction of the glory of Christ's kingdom.

Psalms 99:1. Let the people tremble The literal sense seems to be, "God hath now established David on the throne, and settled the kingdom upon him, notwithstanding all the seditions or tumults of rebels, or other adversaries." The other expression is to the same sense: Let the earth be moved; i.e. this hath been accomplished, notwithstanding all the commotions and uproars of the people of the earth. Mudge renders both the clauses in the future: The people shall tremble;—the earth shall be moved.

Verses 3-4

Psalms 99:3-4. Let them, &c.— They shall praise, they shall do homage to thy great and terrible name, because it is holy: Green adds, and powerful, from the next verse, which he renders thus: The king loveth judgment: But Mudge renders it, Though the king be strong he loveth judgment: And he observes, that the latter part of the verse refers to the body of laws which God had given at Sinai. Dr. Delaney supposes, that as this psalm was composed when David was settled in his kingdom, so this verse particularly refers to his executing judgment and justice unto all his people. Whoever peruses the psalm will find, that David here, as every where else, considers God as the king of Israel, and himself only as his deputy. To this purpose are these expressions in the beginning of it: The Lord reigneth:—the Lord is great in Zion. It is true, David delighted to exert all the power which God had given him to its true purposes: The king's strength loveth judgment; but it was in reality God who executed them all. Thou dost establish, &c. Then follows the one inference always drawn from every position of David's, that God is ever to be worshipped and glorified: Psalms 99:5. Exalt ye the Lord, &c. Life of David, b. 3: Psalms 100:4.

Verse 5

Psalms 99:5. Worship at his footstool Towards his footstool [the ark] Nold. 1008. See 1 Chronicles 28:2.Psalms 132:7; Psalms 132:7. The Israelites when they worshipped turned their faces towards the ark.

Verse 6

Psalms 99:6. Moses and Aaron among his priests With his princes,—his chiefs. Nold. 879. That is, his principal and most famous ministers. The meaning is, "Thus did Moses and Aaron, who were among his priests, and thus did Samuel also, one of the greatest of those prophets who were wont to intercede for you." We have had occasion heretofore to observe, that the word translated priests, is a common title of civil and ecclesiastical officers.

Verse 7

Psalms 99:7. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar This passage is very clear as to Moses and Aaron. But it is not any where expressly said that God spake unto Samuel out of a cloudy pillar; however, Dr. Hammond has observed, that it is probable enough from his history, that he did so: for when Samuel was so signally heard by God at Mizpeh, 1 Samuel 7:9. The Lord heard him; and 1 Samuel 7:10. The Lord thundered with a great thunder; where God's voice and thunder were, questionless, like that in Exo 19:16 where the clouds are mentioned as well as the thunder; and indeed where thunder is, a cloud must be supposed to be; and so this answering of Samuel with thunder, must be God's speaking to him at this time out of the cloud also.

Verse 8

Psalms 99:8. Thou answeredst them, &c.— Fenwick renders this verse thus:

Them, Lord our God, thou didst accept; Through them thou didst forbear, and mercy grant, Though thy just vengeance had the people seiz'd.
The Hebrew להם lahem, signifies, for them, or their intercession. Thou wast a forbearing God, though punishing; or, when thou hadst begun to punish the people by sending plagues among them. Agreeably hereto the Chaldee renders it, Thou sparedst thy people, because of them, or for their sakes. That God did so, see Exodus 11:10. Numbers 16:47-48. 1 Samuel 7:9. Bishop Hare and Houbigant render the latter clause, and didst not punish their deeds. See their notes.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The exaltation of Jesus is the joy of his people and the terror of his enemies.

1. It speaks terror to his enemies. The Lord reigneth, whom men by wicked hands had crucified and slain; but by Divine power arisen from the dead, is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; let the people tremble; all the enemies of his kingdom, who will not have him to reign over them, shall feel ere long with terror the rod of his judgment: he sitteth between the cherubims, on his exalted throne, attended by ministering spirits, ready to fulfil his pleasure: let the earth be moved, as when the Jewish civil and ecclesiastical state was dissolved by his righteous vengeance, and as the whole world will be in the day of perdition of the ungodly. Note; Many mock at the terrors of God's judgments, who will, to their cost, shortly find them awful realities.

2. It is the joy of his people. The Lord is great in Zion, where many of his miracles were wrought, and from whence his gospel went forth, or rather in the spiritual Zion his church, who behold the glory of his person and offices, and enjoy his protection and blessing; and he is high above all people, not only as head of his church, but as God over all, blessed for ever, and therefore are they bound to rejoice in him. Let them praise thy great and terrible name; terrible to his foes, but most lovely to his people: for it is holy, and this it is which renders it a terror to sinners, and so glorious in the eyes of his saints. The king's strength also loveth judgment; Almighty as he is, his power is never abused to injustice, but righteousness is his delight, and the constant guide of his administration; thou dost establish equity; his laws are all most holy and just; thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob, protecting his believing people by his providence, correcting them when they offend, and governing his mediatorial kingdom in the most righteous manner; and for this his subjects are called upon to adore him. Exalt ye the Lord our God with heart and voice, in all the glorious offices he bears, and worship at his footstool with lowly reverence, praising him for all his greatness and glory, and looking up to him for the continual supplies of his power and grace: for he is holy: worthy our highest adoration, and faithful to all his promises, as they will ever find who worship him in spirit and in truth.

2nd, The Lord has been the object of adoration to all his saints of old, and their experience proves him to be the God who heareth and answereth the prayers of his believing people. We have,
1. The names and characters of these most eminent men of God; Moses and Aaron among his priests, Moses having exercised the sacerdotal office till Aaron was appointed thereunto with his brethren, and Samuel among them that call upon his name: these eminent worthies stand distinguished not so much for their station and dignity, to which God advanced them, as for their piety: they called upon the Lord, in every emergence they placed their dependance on God, and found him a never-failing refuge: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them, conscientiously observant of the precepts of his law, and the ceremonies of his worship: and they who thus walk in God's ways, may expect that in those ways he will meet them, and answer all their petitions.

2. The notice and regard God shewed them. He answered them; granted their requests, and communed with them as a man with his friends. He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar; to Moses and Aaron often, and probably to Samuel also in the frequent visions vouchsafed to him. Thou answeredst them, O Lord, our God, when, as advocates for rebellious Israel, they lifted up their prayer for mercy: thou wast a God that forgavest them, at the intercession of these holy men, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions; making them smart for their sins by their sufferings, though prevailed upon by the prayers of these saints from utterly destroying them. Note; We can never sufficiently value the prayers of good men; they are indeed often branded as the troublers, but are in fact the preservers of the nation.

3. The praise due to God for these mercies. Exalt the Lord our God: as our God, he deserves our love and praise, and our fathers' mercies are our own, and demand our grateful acknowledgments: and worship at his holy hill; in the church of Christ: for the Lord our God is holy in his nature, in all his works and ways, and to be exalted by all his people according to his adorable perfections.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 99". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.