I know we are suppose to be strong and trust in the Lord. Could you elaborate on Psalm 2:11 “Serve the Lord with fear, and Rejoice with trembling.”
Psalms 2:11 (NASB)
Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling.
If you will notice, I put down this scripture in a different version from the one you’re reading. I did that on purpose to show variations in translations and I will explain that.
This question is one that many have. If God is loving, if God wants me to have faith, then why all these “fear Him” scriptures? This is a wonderful question and also is an example of why many people get confused without proper teaching. Teaching? I thought that the scripture says that we will be taught of the Lord (Hebrews 8:11) that we don’t need any man to teach us (1 John 2:27). Well, that’s not exactly what those scriptures mean (that’s another Faith Fix should one care to ask 😉).
Sometimes the wording in scripture can be confusing. The reason for this is called translation. Recently my wife and I started learning Spanish. One of the things we learned quickly is that because of different cultures and usages of language, things don’t always translate perfectly. What we then need is someone who understands both languages to make connections. As far as bibles are concerned, there are many types. Some are direct word for word translations and some are transliterations. A transliteration will translate the idea of the intent, not just the exact word used. They do so in order to make sense of the text. The heart behind this is that because things don’t always translate well, we sometimes need better understanding. The Bible primarily was originally written in Hebrew and in Greek. Just like in the United States we primarily speak English, but there are different dialects or usages of the language depending on where you are at. In these two languages there is the general meanings but also the meaning of the way they were spoken in that time that they were written. In fact, some words in those languages have no equivalent in the English language at all. All of this comes into play as we learn God’s Word. Do we need teachers? We sure do.
One key thing to remember when we are looking at scripture is not always to take just a single text and think we can understand everything about it. We need context which could include everything from history of what’s going on, to the understanding of who and why something was written. For example, I have been studying the book of Hebrews and have found much deeper meaning in the text as I delve into its history and purpose. With things pertaining to God’s character, we have to take ALL of what we learn about Him in order to understand single scriptures about Him. Does all this sound confusing? I assure you, it’s really not, but it does take time to learn just like with anything else.
So let’s look at our scripture. Both versions above are slightly different and both are accurate. Serving God is worshipping Him and worshipping Him is serving Him. I want you to take note of the next part though and pay attention. In the first version it says to do so with fear and in the one version I gave it says with reverence. Your version I am guessing is the NKJV which is the King James version made modern. The KJV was translated in 1611 in England where though it was English, it was a different dialect. Words change over time and so do their understandings. An example of this is that the KJV references unicorns several times. Now we know that unicorns don’t exist and some critics of the Bible have tried to point to this to disprove our faith. Hears the issue. If you get an very old dictionary, like from the 1800s, and look up the word unicorn you will see that it is what they used to call a rhinoceros. Now we know they exist! Phew! Fear, likewise, doesn’t exactly equate with what we understand it as today.
Godly fear is reverence. Reverence is a healthy fear of something or we could say even respect. I have a motorcycle of which I have a healthy fear. Now if I was just afraid of it I wouldn’t ride it. I am not afraid of it but when I ride it I do so with great respect. I don’t ride carelessly, I pay extra attention and take heed to follow the rules of the road even more closely. Why? Because I respect it and I fully understand what can happen if I don’t. It’s also like a little kid who respects their parent. They love and enjoy them but they have a fear of stepping out of line, knowing there will be consequences.
To rejoice with trembling is to be fully joyful but keeping in remembrance from where you’ve come and what God has done for you. Deuteronomy 8:11-17 gives us an example of this. For some reason with humans it is easy for us, once God has saved us and blessed us and we start living a good life, to forget that He saved you and blessed you. Humans have a tendency to get puffed up in their thinking when things are good and forget that God did so much for them. They will get “rich” but forget God wants them to be a blessing to others and to serve Him with it. This is the purpose of rejoicing with trembling. Fully enjoy what good God has done, just don’t forget Him in that process.
God’s heart is to bring His people into greater and better things. So often when He does, as soon as they are out of trouble, they turn away from Him. I have seen this so much. People come to God broken, hoping for help. He does amazing things in their lives, and they turn their backs on Him. You will see this too. People come to church hurting or suffering, only to forget about it once things get better. It’s a shame that people so often have no respect for God! They forget Him as soon as it’s convenient to do so.
The heart of this scripture you ask about is to keep a heart for God. It isn’t to live afraid of Him which sadly so many do. It’s to give Him proper honor and respect, using what He does for you to bring glory to Him. We are the hands and feet of Jesus. We shouldn’t allow that fact to take us from Him or injure His cause. Love the Lord with all your heart with the kind of reverence that He deserves! That is true Godly fear.