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God’s Word for You

Psalm 22:3 Holiness

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, March 27, 2023

3 Yet you are the Holy One.
  You are seated, and praised by Israel.

What trouble is so near as the threat of death? What pain is so sharp as the loss of someone we love? Who is it we look to at times such as these? Did David, our poet, think of these things as he wrote this verse?

The great confession of faith in this Psalm is simply this: “You are the Holy One.” In Hebrew, this takes just two words to say. Another, anonymous poet, takes up the subject of God’s holiness in Psalm 99: “He sits between the cherubim… He is holy. He is holy. Our God is holy” (Psalm 99:1, 3, 5, 9). There, each of the three “holies” stamps an Amen after successive truths are proclaimed: God is exalted over Zion… He loves justice… He forgives us after our misdeeds. The word “holy” expresses God’s alien “otherly”-ness. He is utterly other, he is apart, he is unapproachable by the sinful.

Being holy, God loves what is morally good, and he hates what is morally evil. As Paul explained: “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:17). And again: “God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1 Thessalonians 4:7). One of our theologians said: “God’s holiness is the highest purity in God, entirely free of any fault or blemish; it requires the cleanness and purity owed by creatures; or, (it is) that by which God is extremely pure, clean, and holy, and the author of all purity and holiness in creatures” (Quenstedt).

The holiness of God and the completeness of his holy Scriptures leads us to two conclusions or certainties:

1, We must regard what is commanded in the law of God to be good, and what is forbidden to be evil, because God has so commanded and forbidden.

2, We cannot regard something different than what is commanded in the law to be either good or obeyed, nor can we regard something different from what is forbidden in the law to be either good or obeyed, nor can we regard something different from what is forbidden in the law to be evil and avoided. (See also 1 Corinthians 8:12-13 and many other places in that letter).

So, the sacred writings of other religions are to be avoided, for they are not what God has commanded at all. What they forbid, he has not forbidden at all. For why should I bend my knee to anything that Buddha has been quoted as saying, or any other religious figure, when we have the mind of Christ? (1 Corinthians 2:16). And Christian leaders must not forbid those things that God clearly permits, such as marriage and the marriage of ministers (1 Corinthians 9:5).

But let us lift up our eyes with David and set aside all our desires, all our needs, all our sinful impulses and flaws, and be awed by what is there. God is seated. God is holy. God is praised by his children, made holy by faith in the coming of his Son.

Let us contemplate what is holy.

Let us contemplate what is good.

Let us contemplate that God will cover us in his holiness when we are brought before his heavenly throne, carried aloft by angels (Luke 16:22) and joined by them in the Song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages… for you alone are holy” (Revelation 15:3-4).

What will it be like to be made holy? To have sin, guilt, shame and fear stripped from my mind and heart, so that only the will of God fills my life? David lays his harp aside for a moment, perhaps, to smile. This is what he meant us to consider all along. Through Christ, we will be granted the holiness and perfection of God, entirely through faith by God’s grace. What a glorious God we have!

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


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