GETTING THE MESSAGE/Fear of the Lord
The second half of Psalm 76 is a lesson on the fear of the Lord. The people of Judah had been trembling with fear at the threat from the Assyrian army, but when the Lord destroyed the Assyrians in a sudden, shocking manner, the object of Judah’s fear became the Lord.
Verse 7 reads, “But you, you are to be feared! Who can stand before you once your anger is roused?” The repetition of the pronoun “you” makes it highly emphatic and exclusive. The Lord and the Lord alone is to be highly feared.
The Scriptures teach us that the Lord is a consuming fire. The burning bush was on fire but not consumed because God was in it. If God is not in us, we will be consumed by His wrath. This is foundational in Scriptural truth. The corruption of our nature and God’s righteous wrath against it is emphasized in this psalm and everywhere in God’s word.
Verse 8 says, “From the heavens you uttered judgment.” Once the sentence is passed in the court of the Lord, judgment comes. In the days of Noah, people were eating and drinking, getting married, carrying on their lives with no fear of the Lord, though iniquity abounded. While they were thinking there was peace, sudden destruction came.
There is no more vital time to fear the Lord than when there is little or no fear of the Lord among people. And that is the day we live in. As the shadow follows the body, so does the pattern of the Lord’s judgment inevitably unfold among men and countries.
The second half of verse 8 says, “The earth feared and was still.” This relates to the nature of final judgment. Paul says every mouth will be stopped. Judgment is sudden and unexpected, but righteous and irreversible. Men may mock God today, but there will be no excuse in God’s judgment.
A fear of the Lord will prompt us to seek reconciliation with the Lord. There is hope in the Lord’s mercy. Psalm 130 says, “If you were to number sin O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness that you may be feared.” A portion of that fear understands the alternative to being forgiven. The salvation that there is in Christ is greater than we can imagine.
In verse 9 we see, “God arose to establish judgment, to save all the humble of the earth.” The humble are those who have known their sin and sought mercy and forgiveness from the Lord. The judgment of the wicked is redemptive in that it delivers God’s people from all opposition and threats.
The word for humble appears in other psalms, sometimes translated “the meek.” If we translate it meek in every instance, we gain a good understanding of what Jesus meant when He said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Here are a few examples. In Psalm 22, “The meek shall eat and be satisfied. Those who seek the Lord shall praise the Lord.” Psalm 25, “He leads the meek in what is right and teaches the meek his way.” Psalm 34, “My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the meek hear and be glad.” Psalm 37, “The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. The wicked shall be cut off and lose his place. Though you look carefully, he will not be there.”
We see that the meek seek after the Lord and love His glory. The fear of the Lord doesn’t drive them away from the Lord. Rather, it draws them nearer and gives deep longings and affection for the Lord. Above all, we need this meekness.
James says to us, “If any lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” The allurements of the world had affected the Christians he was writing to. The value of grace and meekness was diminishing, whereas the world was growing in their hearts. A fear of the Lord was needed to give a spiritual tune up and perspective. When was the last time you asked the Lord for wisdom for you soul?
The people of Judah witnessed a great miracle that saved them from a terrible enemy. They were in awe and praise of God. Christians have been given a greater salvation in Christ. It is entirely of grace. It was wrought by a great Savior, worthy of all reverence and love from you. If an awe of Christ goes up in your soul, an awe of other things will go down.