I hate the double-minded, but I love Your instruction. You are my shelter and my shield; I hope in Your word. Depart from me, you evil ones, so that I may obey my God’s commands. Sustain me as You promised, and I will live; do not let me be ashamed of my hope. Sustain me so that I can be safe and be concerned with Your statutes continually. You reject all who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is a lie. You remove all the wicked on earth as if they were dross; therefore, I love Your decrees. I shudder in awe of You; I fear Your judgments (Psalm 119 vv. 113—120).
Awesome! If I’ve heard that word once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. I’ve become convinced that this word is the cornerstone for the vocabulary of young America, They handle greatness with undue familiarity!
Still, awesome is a perfectly good word. It’s in the dictionary as well as in the Bible itself. The dictionary defines the word as “characterized by awe—an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, and fear produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like.” I could use this word to describe Brahm’s Fourth Symphony. And the psalmist certainly feels this kind of reverence for God’s laws.
This psalmist isn’t gullible enough to believe that he is immune to the seductive wiles of the wicked and prays earnestly for strength to stay true to God’s awesome decrees. He actually trembles in God’s presence!
I’m wondering if believers in this modern world don’t often try to be too cozy, too familiar with God. We sing superficial songs and engage in cliche- ridden, repetitive prayers. Many of us know the traditions but have never been moved by the truth.We’ve never felt our flesh quiver in awe—holy respect—as we behold the majesty of God’s eternal Word!
O Lord, when I open your Word, I’m standing on holy ground. Teach me to tremble in your presence!