In the 22nd Psalm, which graphically depicts the suffering and death of the Messiah, we find this brief statement about God, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psa. 22:3, ESV). Contextually, the psalmist is seeking an explanation for God’s absence and seeming lack of care at the plight of the suffering Savior. He is suggesting that the holiness of God requires this distance (cf. Hab. 1:13). Volumes could be written on the implications of the first few verses of this psalm and its clear fulfillment in Jesus (Matt. 27:46), but that will be for a later time.
I want to focus, ever so briefly, on what verse 3 teaches us about our worship. While it is true that God is holy by nature (Isa. 6:3), this verse is addressing God’s holiness in a different sense. When we offer praise to God, we are setting Him apart from all others. No one deserves the praise that our triune God deserves (Matt. 4:10; Exo. 15:11; Psa. 35:10; 113:5). In the poetic language of the psalm, the people of God are said to provide the throne on which our God takes His place. Our praises are pictured as lifting God out of the realm of the ordinary and up to a place of holiness that He alone is worthy to occupy. What an amazing picture, one worth recalling when we gather for worship and blend our voices in songs of praise!
But there is one more matter to contemplate. Derek Kidner puts it this way, “But the metaphor also puts the question to the church,whether its hymnody is a throne for God or a platform for man” (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, “Psalms 1-72”, p. 123). Worship is not about us. It is about God. When our praise to God becomes more about entertaining us than elevating God, we have truly lost our way.
Let us think soberly on these things.