Psalm 76: Fear God
April 5, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
What is the least mentioned characteristic of God in the contemporary church? I suppose different answers could be given to that question, but to my mind the answer is given in this psalm: fear. We are quick to exult in God’s love (as we should), but without a balancing proposition of the fear of God, we create a Santa Claus character that has little to do with the God of the Bible—and ironically not much to do with love either. Love, to be real, and certainly to be the love of God, is expressed in the sheer wonder of “love to the loveless shown.” It is love that is so great precisely because it is so undeserved. And not only undeserved, a love that takes wrath that we might go free. Thus, the fear of God is necessary to any real appreciation of the love of God. Ironically, again, the one who bends the knee before fearless love will in time to come have neither love nor fear.
This psalm is a strange one for the contemporary Christian to read. Who is this God? “He broke the flashing arrows” (76:3). “At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both rider and horse lay stunned” (76:6). “You are to be feared! Who can stand before you when your anger is roused?” (76:7). “Let all around him bring gifts to him who is to be feared, who cuts off the spirit of princes, who is to be feared by the kings of the earth” (76:12).
The fear of God is a protector against many evils. What is it that can keep in check the oppressive ambitions of the most powerful of humans in this world? Who can make a billionaire tremble? Who is that that kings fear? When we have the fear of God before us, then there is a power great enough to cause even the most powerful to quake.
If you wish to free yourself from the fear of man, then school yourself in the fear of God. Think on how great he is, how powerful he is, how glorious he is, how fearful he is. And before long you will find that, armed with the fear of God, you have a defender against the most powerful.
“From the heavens you uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth” (76:7).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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