"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" 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,