Because this psalm was authored by Moses, it is the oldest of all the psalms.
99:4-5 Because the Lord reigns with justice and righteousness, all humanity ought to bow in worship at his footstool, submitting to his kingdom authority (see Isa 66:1; Matt 5:35). This posture of humility and acknowledgement of his regal authority should be matched by an inward bowing of the heart.
99:6-9 The psalmist recalls God’s deeds among Israel’s forefathers: Moses . . . Aaron, and Samuel, ordinary men with an extraordinary God. They called to the Lord, and he answered their prayers (99:6). When God communicated to them, they kept his decrees (99:7). When God’s people sinned, these men prayed, and God forgave them (99:8). Thus, God is to be praised for raising up these men to mediate for his people. And he is to be praised for not giving his people what their sins deserved. Though he is holy and an avenger of sin (98:8-9), he shows mercy.
For believers today, God has provided the perfect mediator (see 1 Tim 2:5) and the ultimate means to forgive sins. Through Jesus Christ and his atoning death on the cross, God exalts both his holiness and his mercy. The only appropriate response is to exalt and worship him (99:9).
100:1 Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to God! In the Bible, worship is not some sedate event. People are to engage in it with a sense of excitement. You can’t worship the Lord without your emotions. It is no mere intellectual exercise. Moreover, worship is for “the whole earth.” All peoples are invited to join the celebration. No one is left out. Worship is all that we are responding to all that he is. It is the recognition of God for who he is, what he has done, and what we are trusting him to do.
100:2 The emphasis on emotions continues: Serve the Lord with gladness. The sovereign God of the universe has invited you into his presence to serve him. How could anyone receive such a remarkable invitation with disinterest? Come before him with joyful songs is a reminder that no one would approach a human king, president, or other ruler with an attitude of indifference. When we come before God, then, we shouldn’t slouch, but sing with gusto.
100:3 The Lord is God is a translation of the Hebrew phrase, “Yahweh is Elohim.” Yahweh is the name of God revealed in his covenant relationship with his people. Elohim speaks of power; he is the one who created the heavens and the earth. Thus, the powerful God wants a relationship with you and should be given recognition. He made us, after all, and we are his sheep. He is our Creator and Sustainer. He is the source of everything we need.
100:4 The people in the psalmist’s day were commanded to enter his gates and courts. Though we do not go to a temple today, we are similarly commanded to enter into his presence. What is the password for entrance? Thanksgiving and praise. No matter what your circumstances, give thanks to him and bless his name because there’s always a reason to thank God. And doing so will transform you.
100:5 God is good and faithful. But, to experience his goodness and faithfulness, you must “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). So, worship him, trust him, and obey him. You won’t be disappointed.
101:1-5 In light of God’s faithful love and his demonstrated justice (101:1), King David devotes himself to the Lord through the use of his repeated vow I will. He pledges to worship God (101:1), to live with integrity (101:2), to avoid sin and evil (101:3-4), and to enforce justice under his rule (101:5).
David understood that the quality of his character and leadership had a direct influence on the nation. He took his role as king seriously. He wanted to honor God and bless the people under his reign with justice and righteousness. Whether in the church or in society, leadership based on such principles is a crucial factor in the well-being of those being governed and led.
101:6-8 King David would only have people serving in his administration who displayed faithful character and a commitment to God (101:6). Those known for deceit and lies would be shown the door (101:7). The destruction of the wicked would be a daily priority for him (101:8). In these ways, he would invite God’s blessings on himself and on his people.
102:1-7 In a great ordeal of affliction, this psalmist cries to God for help, begging him to listen and answer (102:1-2). He chronicles the depth of his despair as he experiences the full range of physical, emotional, and spiritual grief (102:3-5). He is overwhelmed by his loneliness and isolation (102:6-7).
When you are suffering and desperate for God’s intervention, let these biblical laments guide you in your prayers. When you don’t know what to say, use the inspired words of this psalm.
102:8-11 He was enduring the taunts of his enemies and existing in a constant state of mourning (102:8-9). Ashes were his food and tears were his drink (102:9). Yet, all of this was because he was experiencing the wrath of God, by whom he felt abandoned (102:10). His life was wasting away (102:11). Jerusalem had fallen to the Babylonians and lay in ruins. The psalmist and all of God’s people were dealing with the consequences of idolatry.
102:12-17 In the midst of his despair, this man expresses his confidence in the reign of God (you . . . are enthroned forever), hope in the covenant faithfulness of God (you will . . . have compassion on Zion), and trust in the future victory of God (the nations will fear the name) (102:12-13, 15). Therefore, the psalmist continues to pray, knowing that the Lord would pay attention to the prayer of the destitute (102:17).
102:18-22 The psalmist knows that he wasn’t writing these words merely for himself—or even for his contemporaries. He was writing for a later generation, for a people not yet born who would praise the Lord (102:18). Though in the psalmist’s day there was sorrow, in the future there would be rejoicing. Not only would the Lord set free those condemned to die among his people, but also peoples and kingdoms would assemble to serve him (102:20-22).
Such worldwide acknowledgement of God’s kingdom will be completely fulfilled during the Messiah’s millennial kingdom rule. At that time, Jerusalem will be fully restored, and the entire world will recognize the greatness and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
102:23-28 In his day, however, the psalmist feels weak and pleads with God for mercy (102:23-24). Though he knew that his own days were transitory, he acknowledged that God is eternal (102:24). Indeed, the Lord existed before creation, and he will outlast it (102:25-26). God will never end (102:26-27).
The author of Hebrews quotes 102:25-27 and applies the verses to Jesus Christ (see Heb 1:10-12). Sharing in the divine nature of God the Father, God the Son is likewise everlasting: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). And, because God is everlasting, the psalmist knows that he will preserve his children.
Thus, believers have a model prayer of suffering and hope, of despair and confidence. Come to God with your complaint, your repentance, your grief, and your hope. He is big enough to deal with them all.
103:1-2 With all that is within [him], David exhorts his soul to bless the Lord (103:1). And then he does so again (103:2). He wants to express praise and thanksgiving to God for all he had done—both for David personally and for his people corporately. Such benefits from God must not be forgotten or taken for granted (103:2).
103:3-5 The benefits God provides that David highlights include spiritual and physical blessings such as forgiving iniquity, healing diseases, and demonstrations of his faithful love and compassion (103:3-4). For those who are weary, he provides renewed vitality (103:5). There are countless reasons to praise God and express our gratitude to him. But, because sinful humans are prone to forget to do so, we must bring the benefits of God continually to our minds.
103:6-10 David praises God’s acts of righteousness and justice on behalf of the oppressed (103:6). He recalls how he’d acted through Moses among the people of Israel when he rescued them from bondage in Egypt (103:7). David even describes God’s character just as God himself had revealed it to Moses: He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love (103:8; see Exod 34:6). Though the Lord had judged the people of Israel for their sins, he had not dealt with them as their sins deserved. They deserved nothing but his wrath, but he extended mercy in the midst of judgment (103:9-10). God yearns for his wayward children to return to him.
103:11-13 How great is God’s faithful love toward those who take him seriously? It’s as high as the heavens are above the earth (103:11)—that is, beyond our comprehension. How far does he remove his people’s transgressions from them? As far as the east is from the west (103:12)—that is, forgiven sins are never to be seen again. If this was true when Israel offered God-ordained animal sacrifices that could not, in an ultimate sense, take away sin (see Heb 10:4, 11), how much more is it true of the once-for-all atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ (see Heb 10:14-18)? David illustrates God’s kindness toward those who fear him by picturing a father having compassion on his children (103:13). Such is how the Lord feels toward those who come to him in repentance and faith.
103:14-18 David underscores the ongoing benefits of God’s loyal love for his people by highlighting the weak and temporary nature of man’s life. As children of Adam, we are made of . . . dust (103:14; see Gen 2:7). The days of our lives are like those of a flower that blooms for a moment and then vanishes (103:15-16). By contrast, the Lord’s faithful love is from eternity to eternity for those who fear him—those who remember to observe his precepts (103:17-18).
103:19-22 David concludes by acknowledging God as the sovereign King who rules over all and by inviting all creation—heaven and earth—to bless him (103:19-20). This review of God’s faithfulness toward his people causes David to erupt like a volcano with praise. May the same be true of all believers. Let us take God seriously and declare his praises.
104:1-9 The psalmist exhorts himself to bless God for his majesty and splendor (104:1). Here, the elements of nature are described as the Lord’s clothing, his palace, and his chariot (104:2-3). He is the all-powerful Creator, and the whole universe exists to serve his purposes. Whatever he builds cannot topple; the earth that he established cannot be shaken (104:5). Though his flood water once covered the earth, he restored the mountains and valleys to their rightful prominence (104:6-8). The water will never cover the earth again (104:9).
104:10-18 God is the one who filled the earth with everything necessary to sustain life. He provides food and drink for animals and humans alike (104:10-15). The earth is suitable for all kinds of life because God made it so.
104:19-23 Yet, his sovereignty is not limited to the earth but extends to the heavens. He created the moon and the sun (104:19) so that they would establish day and night, seasons and years, providing times and rhythms for man (104:23) and beast to function within.
104:24-30 The psalmist praises God for the greatness of his creation, which reveals his unsurpassed wisdom (104:24). He designed fabulous creatures—both large and small—that depend on his provision (104:25). He is sovereign over their lives and deaths (104:29-30).
104:31-35 Having considered all God’s marvelous works, the psalmist breaks forth in exaltation of God’s glory (104:31). He sings God’s praises and prays that this meditation would be pleasing to him (104:34). He concludes with a wish that sinners would vanish from the earth (104:35). Whether through the judgment of God or through faith in Jesus Christ, one day this will be so.
105:1-11 The psalmist calls on God’s people to praise and give thanks to him for his wondrous works (105:1-2, 5). In light of what he has done, his people should seek his face always (105:4). The psalmist recalls the faithfulness of God through his covenant with Abraham . . . Isaac, and Jacob to deliver them the land of Canaan as an inheritance (105:8-11).
105:12-41 He traces the history of Israel from the days of Joseph (105:17) through the exodus out of Egypt (105:37-38). The Lord had made them a great nation by his providential and powerful delivering hand. Israel’s story is one that involved the constant supernatural provision and protection of God.
105:42-45 The Lord was faithful to his holy promise to Abraham (105:42). And, although Israel was hindered by enemies and by their own sinful rebellion, God gave them the land he had promised—the lands of the nations (105:44). What was the reason for all of the Lord’s remarkable deeds? That his people might keep his statutes and obey his instructions (105:45).
Similarly, God saves us so that we will love and obey him. We are not delivered from sin and death so that we can go our own way. We are rescued for reverence; we are saved to serve.
106:1-5 The psalmist exhorts God’s people to thank God because his faithful love is everlasting (106:1). Thus, it’s impossible to praise him enough and truly give him his due (106:1-2). Because of God’s character, those who (like him) practice justice and righteousness are happy or blessed (106:3). The psalmist asks God to remember and show favor to him so that he could benefit from the kindness he shows to the nation (106:4-5).
106:6-12 The psalmist acknowledges that Israel had sinned in his day as the nation’s ancestors had (106:6). Their forefathers rebelled against the Lord (106:7). Yet he saved them for his name’s sake (106:8). In spite of their lack of faith, he delivered them through the Red Sea from their adversary (106:9-10). As a result, they believed his promises and sang his praise (106:12).
106:13-33 But, their belief only lasted a little while. They soon forgot his works (106:13). They tested God on numerous occasions, and he punished them severely (106:14-20). He gave them what they wanted, but their selfish cravings ended in sickness (106:15). If not for the intercessory prayer of Moses, God would have destroyed them for their idolatry (106:23; see Exod 32). Yet, their rebellion continued. Eventually, they refused to enter the promised land that he had prepared for them (106:24-25). So, he sentenced them to die in the desert (106:26). In spite of all this, they did not repent but turned to idols and even caused Moses to sin (106:28-33).
106:34-46 When their descendants entered the promised land, they did not destroy all of their enemies as God had commanded (106:34). Instead, they served the idols of the nations, committing horrific acts, including child sacrifice (106:36-38). Therefore, the Lord let their enemies oppress them (106:41-42). Even though he rescued them many times, they refused to learn but continued to rebel (106:43). The only thing that prevented Israel from being completely wiped out was the abundance of [God’s] faithful love (106:45).
106:47-48 The psalmist concludes by praying that God would again save his people. Though they had disobeyed like their ancestors, he pleads with God to rescue them so that they might rejoice in [his] praise (106:47). Book IV of the Psalms thus concludes.