The Cause of Trembling

The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
Ps 99:1-2 

Hebrew poetry contains parallel clauses, and we see that technique here in Psalm 99:2. God is great in the first clause, and the parallel, God is exalted (Hebrew רָם, lit. high) in the second. This is to be expected. But the story for me here is in the prepositions. God is great/exalted in both clauses, but God is in Zion and over all people.

There really is a difference here, for God in Zion is God in the midst of God's people. At times, such as in Psalm 98, the people rejoice at God's presence. We also see this in Isaiah 12:6, which might serve as a bridge between these two consecutive psalms: Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. The God that is in the midst of the church is the same God who is above all peoples. The God that is a source of joy at one point is also the same God who is the cause of trembling at another.

God is always God, but my perception of God changes according to where I am in life. I might have rejoiced in God yesterday when I celebrated a victory in life, and I might tremble at the thought of God's greatness this morning as I remember the pain I caused a neighbor. Tomorrow as I watch the sun rise, the sense I have might be a peace that surpasses my understanding.

But these varying feelings are possible because I have a relationship with God. God dwells in the church, but over the peoples. Outside that relationship, God will be but a concept, a point of debate, a Supreme Being whose existence I might try to prove or disprove. But for royal Zion, God is a reality in our midst. God's people not only interact with God, but it is through God that we interact with each other, even as God is the filter through whom we interact with the world.

Thank you for your presence, O Holy One. Keep me conscious of your greatness, whether that greatness brings me joy, causes me to tremble, or is a source of peace. But more than reaction, give me a relationship—a relationship that defines all other relationships, for I know this is possible through my crucified and risen Lord, who taught me to pray...