Psalm 2:11 Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling.
Few people celebrate God’s rule with trembling, but that is the response called for by this Psalm. In the ancient world, people trembled before kings, since they held the power of life and death. How much more should we tremble before the king of heaven and earth?
[T]remble before him, all the earth (Psalm 96:9). My flesh trembles in fear of you; (Psalm 119:20), wrote the Psalmists. Do not be arrogant, but tremble (Romans 11:20). And work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), wrote Paul. Likewise, Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell (Luke 12:5), said Jesus. The Bible gives us enough assurance to be secure (John 10:28-29), but never enough to be careless.
Psalm 4:8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
David had powerful enemies, and had to run for his life sometimes. He needed God’s protection while he was awake, but even more while he slept. Instead of sleeping lightly, he committed himself to God’s care, knowing that God alone could make him dwell in safety.
For those who live in fear, nothing is more precious than feeling safe. And none are safer than those who trust in God. Being a Christian does not mean you won’t be murdered at midnight, but that you won’t be murdered by chance. God will preserve your life until he calls you home.
Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
The extraordinary size of the universe can make us feel insignificant by comparison. Even planet earth is tiny compared to many others. But this tiny planet on which we live is God’s center stage. It is where he sent his Son to live and die for us, and where we will live with him in the future. The vastness of the universe should not make us feel insignificant, but compel us to worship the God who made it.
Psalm 10:1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
The felt presence of God, and the felt absence of God, are both expressed in the Psalms. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8). But as for me, it is good to be near God (Psalm 73:28). And, The Lord is near to all who call on him (Psalm 145:18).
But we also read, Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me (Psalm 38:21). Why do you hide your face and forget our misery? (Psalm 44:24). And, Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me? (Psalm 88:14).
There are times when God seems near, and times when he seems far away. But even when God seems far away, he is really very near. I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20), said Jesus. God wants us to live by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), more than by our feelings.
Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, There is no God.
God is self-evident from the world he created (Romans 1:20), and whoever disagrees is a fool. Whatever begins to exist has a cause, and the world began to exist. Likewise, beautiful art requires an artist, and the beauty of creation reveals the ultimate artist. Not believing in God goes against our intuition, and is difficult to maintain.
A young atheist was going through a difficult time, and found himself angry at God. He had to remind himself that it did not make sense to be angry at God, because he did not believe in God. But pain makes us think about God whether we believe in him or not. So why doesn’t everyone simply admit that they believe in God?
The answer is that God is inconvenient. Saying Yes to him means saying No to ourselves. The good news of atheism is that there is no Judgment Day, so we can live as we please. This is very appealing, even if it is not true.
Nevertheless, those who come to God through faith in Jesus Christ are often happier than atheists for several reasons. First, they have resolved their guilt through faith, repentance and forgiveness. Second, they are not afraid of death because they have eternal life. Third, they are more optimistic because they believe that God is good. Fourth, they have better relationships because they have learned to love and forgive. And fifth, they are less worried about this life because they are looking forward to the next.
Those who argue against God argue against the very one who gives them the ability to argue at all. They are like a little girl who is able to slap her father’s face only because he holds her up. Apart from sin, everyone would believe in God immediately and without argument.
Psalm 16:11 [Y]ou will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
King David knew about pleasure, and saw it as a gift from God. This helped him look forward to the age to come, when he would enjoy eternal pleasures at God’s right hand. The greatest pleasures on earth are only a foretaste of what the righteous will enjoy forever.
The devil wants us think that God is against pleasure, but this is contrary to Scripture and reason. When God created Adam and Eve, he put them in the Garden of Eden: a place of sensual bliss. He also gave them physical senses to enjoy all that he had made: the beauty of nature, the taste of food, the sound of birds, the sense of touch, and the smell of lilacs in bloom. To this he added the joy of his presence to make us glad (Psalm 21:6). We were designed to enjoy our Maker, and all that he has created.
But pleasure is so powerful it can destroy us if we are not careful. Many who were once rich have died penniless due to the love of pleasure. Others have lost their health or reputations. The proper use of pleasure is to enjoy it within the limits God has prescribed. God should be our highest pleasure, and his commandments our first concern. Then we’ll enjoy pleasure as he intends, and look forward to eternal pleasures at his right hand.
Psalm 19:7 The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
David found God’s word to be his most reliable guide. It was more trustworthy than his own ideas, or advice from his friends. Even today, the Bible should be trusted above all else.
A military aircraft was returning from a mission, but due to a tailwind, it arrived home sooner than expected. Their instruments showed the airbase was nearby, but their instincts told them something else. They relied on their instincts more than on their instruments, and never made it home. Our most reliable guide to heaven is not our instincts, but what God has said in his word.
Reflection and Review
Why should everyone tremble before God?
Why doesn’t everyone believe in God?
What is the danger of too much pleasure?