It is impossible to read Psalm 99 without realizing the LORD is holy, holy, holy. In verses three, five, and nine, the author explicitly declares the LORD is holy. The threefold declaration of God's holiness reminds me of Isaiah 6:1-4 and Revelation 4:6-9. In these passages angels, seraphim and cherubim, around the throne of God declare "Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD."
In Psalm 99:1-3, because the Holy LORD reigns and rules, the people tremble and the earth quakes. He is enthroned between cherubim. These are the angels that guard the tree of life in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) with flaming swords. They overshadow the mercy seat in the Most Holy Place (Exodus 25:20, 26:34). Cherubim are the four living creatures (Ezekiel 10:9-14) around the throne, who day and night never cease to say, "Holy holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" (Revelation 4:6-9) He is the great and awesome One.
Throughout Scripture, we are provided with other descriptions to help us understand His holiness, which refers to the uniqueness and purity of God. In Exodus 3:5, Moses was told to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. The LORD's presence made even the dirt on which Moses stood pure and holy. Joshua 5:15, says the same thing. Paul, describing the presence of God in 1 Timothy 6:15-16 says, "He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see." He describes the Lord's purity as "unapproachable light," the One who no one can see. Habakkuk 1:13 describes His purity as "You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong."
In Psalm 99:4-5, The LORD is declared to be the holy King, who loves justice, established justice and executes justice. He is the holy and righteous Judge, who "cannot look at wrong." Exodus 24:17 says, "The appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire." Both the OT and NT (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29), says our God "is a consuming fire." Both of these passages are describing God's role as Judge. This Sovereign, King, and Lord who loves, established and carries out justice is pure and perfect in His judgments.
Thankfully, the Holy Judge also answers those who call upon His name. Psalm 99:6-9 describes the Lord as One who hears, speaks, answers and forgives. In Genesis 35:3, Jacob describes God as the One who answers me in the day of my distress. The author of Psalm 99 uses Moses, Aaron, and Samuel as examples of those the LORD heard and answered. He is the God, who in His love of justice, both forgives and punishes the wrong of those who call upon His name. He is worthy of our exaltation.
Throughout Scripture, those who call upon His name are instructed to be holy as He is holy. Leviticus 11:44 says, "I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy." In Matthew 5:48, Jesus while describing citizens of the Kingdom says, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." In 2 Corinthians 7:1 Paul tells us, "Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God." In 1 Thessalonians 4:7 he says, "God has not called us for impurity but in holiness."
All these verses make it evident that God's desire for those He forgives, is a response of thankfulness expressed by living holy lives. The passage which has the most significant impact on me concerning my holiness is Hebrews 12:14, "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
Holy Lord God, You alone are perfect in all Your ways. Not only are You perfect, but You are also gracious. Thank You for being gracious to me. Thank You for forgiving me. Lord Jesus, I know it is Your perfection and holiness that covers me. I am righteous because the Father has placed me in You. That being true, I want to strive for holiness that reflects my gratitude for all You did and do for me.