Saturday, June 27, 2009

Lectionary Devotion - Psalm 130 - Fearing God

Lectionary verse: Psalm 130:3,4 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.

Some Christians have a lot of trouble with the Old Testament ideal of 'fearing' God. They believe that if God is so compassionate and caring, forgiving and merciful, why on earth would anyone need to be frightened of Him? It's a good point and one that deserves more exploring.

The word 'to fear' in Hebrew, 'yaray' actually means to revere, which means that we show a lot of respect, humility and courtesy to the person we revere. You'll remember that ministers are given the title "reverend," which means we are supposed to accord to them respect and courtesy, too.

But there's also a more serious aspect to 'fearing God.' The word that's used for 'forgiveness' in this psalm doesn't mean to acquit or show mercy, it actually means to spare a life, to spare someone from a terrible punishment. I guess that the nearest we have in meaning to it would be a Governor's last minute pardon for a Death Row inmate. In other words, God has the power over eternal life and everlasting punishment. He holds our immortal salvation in His hands.

Hhmmm....perhaps we should fear God after all?

Prayer: Lord God Almighty, You hold our salvation in Your hands, so we should never take it for granted. Help us to truly worship and adore You. To fully acknowledge Your Sovereignty over the Universe and Your everlasting authority over our lives, our spirits, our souls. May we sincerely revere You today and respect You forever. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He writes the devotional blog "Heaven's Highway."

Today's image is from John's Psalms drawing project. It is based on a verse from Psalm 82.

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