Friday, January 9, 2009

Scary Delights

"Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling." - Psalm 2:11

As I was reading the Scriptures recently, I came across a very interesting command tucked away in Psalm 2. We're commanded in verse 11 to "serve the LORD with fear". No surprise there. But then we're told to rejoice...with trembling. Isn't that strange? These two ideas- rejoicing and trembling- seem opposed to one another. But here we find them together. My natural tendency is to say, "Wait! I'm confused! Which one. Lord? Do you want me to rejoice? Or tremble?" And of course, the answer is simply "Yes." Both truths have implications for our worship of God.

"Rejoicing" preserves the reality that Jesus Christ, through His life, death and resurrection has purchased eternal pleasures at God's right hand for all who repent and believe in Him. He did this in order that our joy might be complete. Christ calls His redeemed children to enter into the joy of our Master. God is passionate about our everlasting, soul-satisfying happiness- in Him. Therefore He commands us to rejoice!

"..with trembling" preserves the reality of God's holiness. God dwells in unapproachable light. He is a consuming fire whom fallen man may not look upon and live. He is utterly other. His wrath and fury against sin is unfathomable. In other words, He is not to be messed with. Without the protection of propitiation (a wrath-absorbing substitute), it is simply not safe to approach God. I like how the classic hymn "Holy, Holy, Holy" put it:

Holy, Holy, Holy
Though the darkness hide Thee
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see

Only Thou art Holy
There is none beside Thee
Perfect in pow'r, in love and purity

"Rejoice...with trembling"

"Rejoice" protects us from worshipping God with dead formalism. "...with trembling" protects us from worshipping God too casually. "Rejoice" demands our love and affection. "...with trembling" demands our utmost reverence. "Rejoice" encourages vibrant passion. "...with trembling" encourages solemn reflection.

These truths beg the question: What God is like the Triune God of Scripture? "Rejoice...with trembling"? What other God talks like that? A trembling rejoicing. A scary delight. A terrified celebration. How strange! Yet, how appropriate considering who He is. In verse 12, we then receive permission to "Kiss the Son", -with a warning attached concerning the Son's wrath before we get too cuddly with Him. When we consider these things, we're forced to say with Job:

"Behold, God is great, and we know Him not; the number of His years is unsearchable." Job 36:26

May the Lord give us grace for our Sunday gatherings and our lives to be characterized by a posture of awestruck delight towards God.

grace and peace,


Da' Sciple said...

I just read this passage to my wife and children and pointed toward it's prophetic continents...

As I look back now - I'm awe struck just as you are. I dont even think I've ever seen that verse, although I frequent this text. Praise God for your insight and shared revelation.

"Who is like you O LORD among the gods???"

What a "scary delight".

Pearls of Virtue said...

Shai, thanks for sharing!

What a beautiful task it is to bask in the glory of our great God!

This past Sunday, we sang "Holy, Holy, Holy" and I was gratefully reminded of the character of the God that I bow my knee to. My roommates and I were speaking to a couple of girls a few weeks ago about the holiness of God, and I reminded them that out of God's holiness His other attributes flow. It is because God is holy, perfect, pure, righteous, set-apart, and as you so perfectly put it - OTHER - that He alone is God.

It is also His utter holiness that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, causes sinners to see the magnitude and depth of their sin in comparison to His spotlessness. This godly fear, this godly sorrow, drives sinners to the foot of the Cross and points hell-bound souls to the Messiah, His atonement, and His undeserving affection for His chosen ones. What grace is there from a merciful God to give us eyes to see our sinfulness in relation to His sinlessness!

This realization, flowing from an understanding of God's holiness, fills us with awe at the provision of God for a substitute such as Christ. Sometimes worship is so full of this "awestuck delight" ( as you put it) that I can hardly stand in His presence. I can't even begin to imagine what Heaven will be like, and I will be thankful for a glorified body that will be able to withstand His eternal beauty and glory!

What a precious Redeemer we serve!

Seth McBee said...

Hey Bro.
Just wanted to drop by to say that you have given me hope for Christian hip hop, or whatever you want to call it...

I have blogged about your crew and have really enjoyed your albums. I just downloaded Storiez today and it is sick.

Great post.

Here is a question...when are you going to start remixing the old hymns to hip hop (your aboved reference to Holy Holy Holy made me think of that)...that would be money.

Thanks again for your ministry, it isn't going unnoticed.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Can I ask you one other thing. Why is it that the best hip hop Christians are reformed? I am personally reformed and can't believe the lyrics I am is good to hear. Just want to know if you have a personal thought on that.

Keep it up.

Seth McBee
Contend Earnestly

jefflo said...

hey shai,

your music has been a blessing in my life - remembering Biblical truth has been hammered in. especially love the "catechism" from the atonement.

true words in this post. so often we default to one end or the other, but having a fully orbed view of God's immanence and transcendence, love and justice, wrath and mercy helps us to rightly worship Him.

i don't know if you know about google reader, but i think it'd be great if you could enable full posts in your RSS feeds. it'd make it much more convenient for those who read your blog with a feed reader.


matt.brown said...

Amen. A concept that foreign to most American churches.

Laura said...

Ok, brother, THIS is awesome stuff. What a great corrective to the tendencies of the modern church.


Blessings on you.

daryl k said...

Great post goes along with these scripts
Psalm 115:3 Our God is in the heavens;he does all that he pleases. and Psalm 135:6 Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.

claude said...

Wow, good word, shai!

Anonymous said...


I sang Holy Holy Holy at church today as well. After reading "The Holiness of God" by Spurgeon it really made me re-evaluate how I worship. If I were to stand before the God that Isaiah stood before in Isaiah 6, I would have fallen flat on my face, nothing in my mind but the overwhelming knowledge of my sin before a holy God...

but wait... we stand before that God every day! why do not respond with rejoice and trembling?

thanks for the post

shai said...


I think I took care of it. I'm not the most computer-savvy guy though, so let me know if nothing changed.

Thank you all for your comments! The paradoxes and tensions of Christianity help to confirm its Divine origin. No merely human mind could even begin to come up with the precious truths that the Lord has graciously opened our eyes to behold and treasure!

grace and peace,

Quote Quote No Name said...

Excellent article. Dualism in Scripture is always an interesting topic. It always highlights how vast and wonderful God really is and at the same time, allowing us to seem Him in the right perspective.

Cheryl S. said...

Hi Shai,

Wonderful post!

I have to tell you I'm older Christain woman who has nver been a big fan of rap. However, I have recently been introduced to your music and I'm enjoying it.

I wanted to add a thought to your post. Many Christains have a hard time understanding "Rejoice...with trembling" because they do not KNOW Him. I'm not talking about salvation. I'm talking about having knowledge about Him. Knowing His Word. Consider these verses from John 4 on true worship: 21Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

The bases of true worship is knowledge NOT emotions. We need have to a great knowledge of who He in order to worship with trembling.

God Bless and stay in the Word!

samurai said...

Amen - something to "chew" on through the day...

Jay Miklovic said...

Glory to God, great word Shai.

Never thought I would ever enjoy rap, or hear theology that God would use to floor me through rap. I am happily wrong, and very wrong as I am seeing that there is an entire community of you guys preaching so faithfully.

It's good to know that my thoughts are not His thoughts, and my ways are not His ways.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bro... Your reflections of scripture are always inspiring! Causing me to open my own bible and hear from the Master!

Michael Chen said...

Amen. Thanks for sharing that insight with me. I praise God for men like you who preach the Word unceasingly. I discovered your music about a year or two ago and am blown away by the lyrical talent that God has given you. May He continue to lead you into a growing knowledge and wonder of who He is. Soli Deo Gloria!

David Ower said...

Shai, I've been listening to your music for the last few years and have been blessed to have access to your lyrics on here. Just thought I'd share with you that the Lord has been speaking to me of His holiness and the lyrics of a few of your tracks rang in my mind as I was blogging just now. As I clicked over to your blog, I saw that you had written on the same subject that was on my mind.

Sometimes my understanding of the Holy Spirit's indwelling all believers seems limited to proximity or conversational connections, but I wanted to let you know that the Lord is faithfully revealing Himself through the blogosphere. He is truly unlimited. Up until now, I think my understanding of you as a brother in Christ has been somehow detached since you are "just the guy whose rhymes are a blessing." Anyway, I am blessed now to realize in a greater way (not that I didn't know it already) that His HOLY Spirit indwells you and I, and the connection in His name is undeniable, though I've never met you.

Thanks for taking the time to tap out this great encouragement to "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness."

Robby Christmas said...

Hey bro ... I was lookin for a way to get you a message and this seemed the most efficient. I just got turned on to your music a few hours ago ... we haven't even finished listening to the album and my wife and I are big fans already. I have so much I want to say, but I want to respect your time ... basically, thank you. What a blessing to have the beauty of God's character as it is revealed in Scripture put into a form that is typically rebellious and repulsive. Thank you for your part in redeeming the form of hip-hop ... and what better to do that with than theology! I've been doing Bible study with some young men in the hip-hop culture and I can't wait to have them listen to this stuff. Peace bro. Praise God for you and your ministry. See ya round the throne one day, Robby (PS - I'm a seminary student at Southeastern in North Carolina ... taking a class this semester on the theology of Jonathan Edwards ... Charity is one of our textbooks!)

Wretched said...

Ps 2 is one of the Psalms I've memorized. It struck me as odd too when I was reading it. I recently finished RC Sprouls book "Holiness of G-d" and wow...what a great book.
And just today I was listening to Paul Washer talk about this very thing. He said he was grateful G-d did not call him to be a worship leader because he's just not worthy of that.
That really struck me. My church has us take a moment at the beginning of service, before worship, to quiet our hearts and prepare. I never totally understood but after PW and now this post I do.
I also love when Paul Washer talks about the angels being fearful and unable to look at G-d, but we play in the folds of His robe. I really need to work on grasping the holiness of G-d.
Time to listen to one of my favorite H3 songs....

Thank you brother.


Prodigal said...

My brother in Christ,

Your music has had a profound effect on me. I have never set my ears upon such theologically rich music. I look forward to that day when we might shake hands, and I can thank you for your work done in building the body of our Lord. By the way, check out the book "Facedown," you might enjoy it.

yoyo said...

Your a refreshing artist who proclaims the truth! Thanks, keep doing it!

timothy brindle said...

WOW, and, AYYMEN!. This reality is AWEsome.
This concept is very foreign to my fallen-ness. In our culture either everything is trivialized, or--we're bound up by unhealthy fears (usually of man). And our idolatrous delights are fleeting. But What a glorious thing that Jesus has purchased both-(and He did this when we had "no fear of God before our eyes" , and while we were still rejoicing in dung.-and the Spirit is working them in us! Bangin. To the Glory of God the Father!!!

thanks for this meditation bro. shai.

(aren't you impressed that I'm actually "Blogging"--and not only that POSTING! Never thought you'd see the day, huh. Jesus does transform! It took me a minute to actually figure out how to manuever this nuclear device. I guess even the gulliest and grimiest of the underground kids have to crawl out of rugedness into modernity sometime. lol) This blog is a blessing.
love you

Sammie said...

Wow! what an astounding thought. But oh how right it is. God is so holy and righteous but yet has lavished his grace upon us so greatly how else should we worship than with trembling and rejoicing. what an astounding thought. oh how we too often are either too formal and mundane in our worship or too casual with our worship. His ways are not ours nor his thoughts like our thoughts. He is beyond our comprehension so it only makes sense that the way in which we are to worship is to be mindblowingly complex and different than what we're used to. Thanks be to God for using you to speak to us.