As we saw in yesterday's study, holiness is the characteristic of God that sets him apart from his creation. It has at least four contributing elements:

"His awful holiness!" That is a good phrase of J.J. Stewart Perowne's, because it is exactly what the first stanza is intended to impress on the worshiper. It begins by picturing the Lord sitting upon his throne in heaven, much like an earthly monarch might receive visitors to his court while sitting on an earthly throne.

Psalm 99 is about the holiness of God. It is about his kingly reign, too, since it begins with the words "the LORD reigns” (it is the third psalm to do so; the others are Psalms 93 and 97) and it is the next to last in the series of eight royal psalms, beginning with Psalm 92 and ending with Psalm 100. But chiefly Psalm 99 is about God's holiness, which is important for us to understand if we are to appreciate the character of this supreme and reigning Monarch.

The final stanza is poetic and in some ways the most unexpected. For in it, in beautiful language, the psalmist calls upon the entire creation to praise God. In the first stanza the appeal is to Israel. In the second stanza the appeal is to the nations of the earth. In this last stanza the call is to creation or, as we would say, the cosmos. The reason for it is that God is coming to "judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity” (v. 9).

The second stanza of Psalm 98 praises God as King, which is why it is included in the block of royal psalms (Psalms 93-100). The first stanza praised God as Savior and called on the people of Israel to sing a new song to him. This stanza views him as king not only of Israel but of the whole earth.