The Special of the Day... From the Orange Moon Cafe...
"Forgiveness and Fear"
Let us imagine a young believer reading Psalm 130 for the first time. He makes it to verse 4, and begins to consider the statement, "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be… . Before he can finish, however, the phone rings. By the end of the call, our new Christian has to get ready for work. He leaves the house, still thinking about the Psalmist's affirmation of God's mercy, and wondering how the verse concluded. "What would forgiveness inspire us to think about our Lord?" the believer ponders at times throughout the day. "That thou mayest be praised… that Thou mayest be thanked… that Thou mayest be adored… that Thou mayest be glorified… that Thou mayest be loved?"
"There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4; emphasis added).
Certainly, surprise awaits the Christian we consider. Fear? Related to forgiveness? We rarely make such an association in our understanding of God's truth. I recall my own fascination when first reading Psalm 130:4. "How can forgiveness lead to the fear of God rather than love, praise, thanksgiving, adoration, and worship?" I puzzled over the matter, and still sometimes find the statement intriguing whenever Psalm 130:4 comes to mind.
I recall my first thought as I sought to find an answer to the seeming enigma: "Perhaps the Hebrew root word for "fear" means something other than what we usually consider. It must mean reverence or respect, or something along those lines. I've heard preachers say that." A visit to the Hebrew lexicon, however, revealed that the word "yare" primarily denotes the same thing we usually mean when considering fear. It means to be afraid, and to be afraid with terror and dread. This left me more puzzled than ever. Again, how can the wondrous blessedness of God's forgiveness elicit fear of Him?
First, let us acknowledge that forgiveness does lead us to love, praise, thanksgiving, worship, and adoration of our Lord. I think of the prodigal son who returned to his merciful father after rejecting him and demanding his inheritance (Luke 15:11-32). Indeed, the son left in rebellion. He returned in repentance. But even more, let us imagine what the Bible does not say, but clearly implies. How must the son have loved his father for the duration of a redeemed lifetime that could have been so different had the father's heart not been full of mercy and grace, Yes, there was forgiveness with the father, which doubtless led to devoted love in the heart of the son.
Again, however, the Psalmist declares, "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared." Why fear? How does forgiveness lead to our being properly afraid of and even dreadfully terrified by our blessed Heavenly Father? How do such sensibilities correlate with a loving relationship with Him? There is an answer, an answer sublimely reflective of who our God is, and of His glorious character, nature, and way. We will consider the answer in tomorrow's message, rejoicing together in the light of the Lord, wherein fearing Him comprises a vital component of knowing and responding to His love.
"Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy."
"God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him."
Weekly Memory Verse
In Him we live and move and have our being.