REJOICE AND TREMBLE
Psa. 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
To the non-spiritual, rejoicing and trembling aren’t even on the same playing field. Rejoicing is associated with things like a last minute victory for your team, an unexpected check in the mail, or an an extended vacation with all expenses paid. Trembling is something totally disconnected with joy and is more closely related to the anticipation of the dropping of the proverbial second shoe. It could be the anticipation of a report from the doctor, the delivery of the pink slip, or the fear produced by a threatening enemy who is much stronger and better equipped than you.
In today’s verse we see a different kind of joy and a different kind of trembling. Of all people David was familiar with the joy of The Lord. David would often sing, play his stringed instrument, and dance with all his might in the presence of The Lord. He described extreme, extravagant joy in God’s presence. At the same time, David knew the fear of The Lord. When you experience the mighty glory of His presence, fear is the result. Suddenly you find yourself in that joy unspeakable state and trembling before the mighty presence of God. Martin Luther spoke of rejoicing and trembling, check out his thoughts.
“So we should fear God in a way that doesn’t entirely exclude joy. It should be a genuine joy—a joy that can’t be kept bottled up in our hearts. When we truly believe that we have been reconciled to God because of Christ, we will have a smile on our face, a twinkle in our eyes, and a song of praise on our lips. The Holy Spirit tells us to serve our heavenly King with inward and outward joy, combined with reverence. If we don’t, we’ll become overconfident. We’ll start acting like animals and sink into lustful human pleasures. If we make sure we don’t become overconfident, then God won’t be offended by our happiness. In fact, he’s offended by sadness and demands joy. That’s why people who were in mourning were not allowed to bring God sacrifices, and why the offerings in Malachi were unacceptable to God (Malachi 2:13). We have to mix joy with fear and mix fear with hope.”
How can you describe that strange, almost conflicting experience of rejoicing with trembling? No words can describe it to someone who has not been born again. For the saved, rejoicing and trembling is at the heart of our relationship with God. We sing, dance, and break into laughter when we hear of the great work God has done for us in Christ. We are reminded of His matchless grace and our hearts can’t stop singing, we hear of our redemption from sin’s power and tears of joy pour down our face, we find ourselves in his glorious presence and we are on our faces, trembling in the presence of this Mighty God.
“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”