Devotion for Thursday, June 11, 2020
Psalm 130:4, “But with You there is forgiveness…”
Yesterday, I discussed how a right understanding of God’s wrath against sin stands as a major component of godly fear.
Today, I would like to elaborate upon that and illustrate how God’s forgiveness complements His wrath to elicit great fear and reverence in His people.
A few years ago, I was reading through the Bible using a “read-the-Bible-in-a-year” reading plan. This reading plan had a psalm reading every day. One particular day had Psalm 130 as the reading. As I was reading, I was struck at what the Psalm, a Song of Ascents, declared. In verse 3-4a the Psalmist says, “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness.”
As I read that great promise of God’s forgiveness, the next line caught me off-guard. I expected it to say, “But with you there is forgiveness, that you might be PRAISED or LOVED.” But that is not what it says. Verse 4 actually declares, “But with You there is forgiveness, that you may be FEARED.”
This verse floored me and gave me an insight into true godly fear. Yes, just as the Lord Jesus Christ told us, we must fear the One whose wrath against sin rightly casts the sinner (both body and soul) into Hell. Yet, the Psalmist shows us the great power of connecting God’s Wrath with His Forgiveness.
When we realize the full scope of God’s Righteous Wrath, that we are “dead in our trespasses and sins” and by “nature children of wrath,” (Eph. 2:1,3) “alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,” (Col. 1:21) yet “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8) it blows us away.
The full, proper expression of godly fear is found in the Gospel itself. For the Gospel is, first, the news of God’s wrath, and then, second, the answer to that wrath, which is forgiveness in Jesus Christ our Lord. Understanding our Jehovah as the God of wrath AND forgiveness in grace and love drives the believer to an overwhelming sense of reverence, devotion, awe, and desire to please Him.
It is this duality of reverence – consciousness of His wrath and forgiveness – that ultimately fuels our LOVE for the LORD and His Son. It is this wholistic, overwhelming experience of reverence that captivates the soul, allowing the glamour, worries, stresses, and “fears” of this world to grow strangely dim.
When we are overcome and enriched by this fullness of godly fear, we will not dread the one who can only kill the body. We will be as Polycarp, who was arrested as Pastor of Smyrna when he was 86 years old around 160 A.D. and given the ultimatum of recanting his allegiance to Christ or being burned at the stake. He said, “86 years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?!” Oh, that we might have the godly fear by which Polycarp lived and died!
Pastor, Sharon First Baptist Church