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Reading: Psalm 99
(Verses 1-5)
The LORD reigns,
let the nations tremble;
he sits enthroned between the cherubim,
let the earth shake.
Great is the L
ORD in Zion;
he is exalted over all the nations.
Let them praise your great and awesome name—
he is holy.
The King is mighty, he loves justice—
you have established equity;
in Jacob you have done
what is just and right.
Exalt the L
ORD our God
and worship at his footstool;
he is holy


Ice on the Ottawa River — photo by David Kitz

What does it mean to be holy? There are several shades of meaning for the word holy. It can mean being consecrated or dedicated for a special purpose. It also means righteous. But the definition that fits best in the light of Psalm 99 reads like this: awe-inspiring—having a character that evokes reverence (Encarta Dictionary).

The psalmist is effusive with his praise for the LORD, but three times in this short psalm, he centers back to this phrase: he is holy. Yes, the LORD reigns, He is righteous and exalted, but what has really caught the psalmist’s attention is the LORD’s holiness. That’s what sets Him apart and elevates Him above the stratosphere.

Has the LORD’s holiness caught your attention? Have you been filled with awe by the holiness of God? I fear that far too often we have diminished God. We have tried to make Him like us—powerful but a bit quirky—maybe short-tempered or set in His ways. What nonsense! Our God is holy. We need to wake up to that fact. It must be central to our understanding of God.

In the Beatitudes from his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). To clarify, I might add that the pure in heart will see the true God, not a distorted caricature. Our sinful nature has a way of distorting our view of the LORD. That’s why personal purity and holiness are so essential. The apostle Peter provides this admonition: As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

Response: LORD God, I want to see you at work in my life. Holy Spirit help me to clean up those areas that distort my view of you. You are holy. I worship you in the beauty of your holiness. Amen.

Your Turn: Are there times when you have seen God as short-tempered or set in His ways? Have you avoided God’s call to holiness?

* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

The first volume of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer by award-winning author David Kitz is now available. For a closer look at this 262-page daily devotional book click here.