Daily encouragement

Video by

Stuart Poteet

Discipleship Pastor

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Psalm 112:1

Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.

Behind the Scenes

Not to miss out on the beaming sunshine, the Devo Team circled up our camp chairs in my backyard last week for our monthly workshop. We sat toes in the grass and Bibles on laps, digging into this verse as we collaborated on several aspects of our craft. Psalm 112:1 is a simple verse, yet as those who love to dig into the Word with you all, we found plenty to discuss. One complexity that came up is this idea of "the fear of the Lord," which often falls on our modern minds as a confusing paradox. How does the idea of "fearing" God harmonize with his vast love that so many of our worship songs celebrate?

Several team members brought up the stark contrast this verse presents: fear and delight. How can these two ideas that seem so opposed in our minds have the parallel relationship that the psalmist indicates? Blessed are those who fear the Lord, and blessed are those who find great delight in his commands. How do we both fear and delight? But when we consider the posture of these ideas, we will see how they actually do align beautifully.

Let's start with fear: Yes, this Hebrew word, yārē, refers to respect and awe, but it also constitutes the idea of literal fear and terror. We have a hard time understanding that today, but the Israelites didn't. Your respect for something powerful and potentially dangerous grows when you literally see swift and clarified justice carried out on evil before your very eyes, as many Old Testament stories detail. It reminds me of the quote from C.S. Lewis' book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which Susan asks if the lion Aslan is safe. She's told, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he's good."

If you had this kind of healthy fear, an undeniable reverence, a distinct understanding that the LORD is THE authority over all, what would your posture be? For me, it would be a face-to-the-ground kind of humility. But what about delight? The Hebrew for delights is ḥāp̄ēṣ, which actually reveals not so much a contrast, but a surprisingly similar posture to fear. This delight comes from the literal idea of bending over or leaning into something, like a parent over their baby's crib. Have you heard other Christians say to "lean in" to something? Well, this is biblical delight, and especially in the Psalms, it's spoken of in relation to delighting in or leaning into God's commands, Law, and Word.

Delight and fear, they're not so different after all. When we fear the Lord, we're brought low before our righteous, sovereign, powerful Father God, humbled before him. And similarly, as we lean into his Word, like a student hunched over the best book ever written, we again are bent into a posture of learning and surrender to the Teacher.

Make it Real

Maybe this is how God needs us to be? Maybe this is the posture of our lives that leads to his best for us? It would make sense to me, because it's the opposite of the posture the world says to hold. While the world tells us to cling tight to our dignity, King David, who wrote many psalms himself, danced embarrassingly in praise of Yahweh, unperturbed by the stares of others, declaring, "I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes," all for the sake of praising the Lord (2 Sam. 6:22). Hm...that's how this verse starts too.

The world tells us to keep our chins up, shoulders back, hands on our hips - confident in ourselves and no one else. But I wonder, where has that gotten us? Even positive self-esteem, when understood from a biblical worldview, is actually a confidence in the Lord who made us and called his creation GOOD. It all comes back to HIM, not us.

And so perhaps, this posture of low before the Lord is the one we're meant to take: undignified in the passion of our praise, entirely humbled in our reverence before his righteousness, and bent intently as we pour our hearts and minds into weaving his Word into every aspect of our lives. Where the world calls us to stand tall in our own rights and abilities, perhaps Jesus and the upside-down Kingdom of Heaven invite us to bring ourselves low before our Mighty God, the One who is most worthy of our praise, reverence, and focus.

End in Prayer

Mighty God, All-powerful Father in Heaven, we praise you! I bow low before you because I recognize that you alone are good - that there is no good person, only your astounding, overwhelming grace. Spirit, well up in me the desire to devote myself to your Word, your commands, your way, in response to the truth of who you are. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Written by

Kimber Gilbert

ACF Devo Team Leader