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Jason Silver

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Thoughts and Reflections on Scripture



Friday, May 10th, 2019
Related Song

Holiness: it's not a word we use in everyday conversation. Some people might not even really understand what it means, other than an adjective for profanity! But in this Psalm, it's definitely a keyword of importance, and I think it's worth unpacking its meaning.

In English, if someone says something is holy, the common definition is pure, sacred, righteous or pious. But this isn't the correct Biblical definition at all.

The original Hebrew word, “qadosh” is more accurately defined as “set apart for a special purpose.” Israel was qadosh because they were separated from the other nations as servants of Elohiym. The furnishings in the tabernacle were also qadosh, as they were not to be used for anything except for the work in the tabernacle. While we may not think of ourselves as “holy,” we are in fact set apart from the world to be Elohiym's servants and his representatives.

I thought about how Psalm 99, and the Bible in general, state that God is Qadosh (holy), and it made me wonder how he is set apart “for a special purpose.” To say that seems like we “use” God for special purposes, which doesn't seem right. But then I found an article which said simply, that he is set apart from us! Maybe it's similar to a King being set apart from his subjects. Our Holy King must be approached with reverence and respect.

But despite being “wholly other,” he's not removed from us. He has inserted himself right into our midst, moving among us and drawing us to himself. His “Holy” Spirit is the means by which he communicates intimately with us.

Knowing this about God's holiness, let's reevaluate Psalm 99!

If you were to divide it into three sections, verses 1 to 3 seem to be about the Holy Presence of God; verses 4 and 5 are the Holy Strength of God; and verses 6 and 7, the Holy Revelation of God.

Think about what makes God's presence set apart: His presence makes people tremble; he is exalted above all people; he has a great and awesome name!

Think about what makes God's strength set apart: He is a mighty king; he loves justice, and executes it fairly among us!

Think about what makes his revelation set apart: he calls common, everyday people – people who make mistakes and need to be corrected – to be his priests, and when these individuals cry to him, he answers! How different, how set apart that is from any other God!

We can agree with the psalm-writers response of worship! Verse 8 and 9 tell us to worship our Holy God, for he is forgiving and an avenger of wrongs!

Come, let us worship at his feet!