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What does it mean that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3)?

God inhabits the praise of His people

Psalm 22 is a prophetic psalm of David presenting Jesus Christ as the Savior who laid down His life. The psalm begins by portraying the rejection and abandonment Christ suffered on the cross (Psalm 22:1–2; cf. Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Yet, immediately, the suffering Messiah makes a strong declaration of trust in God: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3, KJV).

As the bearer of humanity’s sins, Christ was destined to experience untold pain and anguish (Isaiah 53:4–6, 10; 2 Corinthians 5:21). In the seemingly endless silence in which God does not answer—perhaps the worst moment of torment Christ would ever know—the Son reminds Himself of God’s sovereign position: “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3, ESV). The word enthroned here describes the circumstance of sitting, remaining, or dwelling somewhere. (The phrasing God inhabits the praise of His people comes from the King James Version of Psalm 22:3.)

When the Messiah declared, “God inhabits the praise of His people” in Psalm 22:3, He expressed His absolute trust in God. No matter what was happening at that moment or how alone He felt, the Messiah knew that God was present and in control, ruling over His hour of greatest need (see 1 Peter 2:23). God the Father had not abandoned Him. God was working out His sovereign plan, and the Messiah would soon be delivered (see Psalm 22:4–5).

Many examples of God’s enthronement exist in Scripture. The psalmist urged, “Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!” (Psalm 9:11, ESV; see also Psalm 29:10; 102:12). “Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high” (Psalm 113:5). When Isaiah saw the Lord “high and exalted, seated on a throne” over all creation in heaven and earth “and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1–6), the prophet was utterly undone by God’s presence.

The idea behind God inhabiting the praise of His people could be that God’s throne—His dwelling place—was the tabernacle, the place where praise was continually offered to Him. In Psalm 22, the Messiah in His suffering remembers the place and people of praise. He is not among those congregants, but He expresses with confidence that their praises are appropriate. Even in the extremity of His distress, the Messiah trusts that God is holy and worthy of praise.

Heaven is a place where God is surrounded by praise, and it is described in the Bible as God’s temple (Psalm 11:4; Habakkuk 2:20). Yet the ultimate dwelling place for God is with His people: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3; see also Revelation 21:22). Jesus Christ revealed that He is the Lord’s temple (John 2:19–21), and God’s presence now inhabits His body—the church (1 Corinthians 3:16–17).

Scripture repeatedly affirms that individual believers are “the temple of the living God” and “temples of the Holy Spirit” where God’s presence dwells (1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16). The whole church “is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord . . . built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit,” explains the apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:21–22. The church fits together like “living stones” being built into “a spiritual house” that offers “spiritual sacrifices” of praise to God (1 Peter 2:5).

The writer of Hebrews counsels, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name” (Hebrews 13:15). The apostle Peter explains, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

God still inhabits the praises of His people. No matter what our circumstances, we know that God is holy and does all things right. We can worship the Lord even in our distress.

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What does it mean that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3)?
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This page last updated: September 11, 2023