My flesh trembles for fear of You, And I am afraid of Your judgments.
I'm skipping around a lot as I write about this Psalm, just taking whatever verse strikes me particularly as the next theme. This week, I was influenced by the sermon I heard on Sunday, all about the fear of the Lord. As I listened, I wondered what Psalm 119 had to say about fearing the Lord, and sure enough, here is a whole verse devoted to the subject!
This fear is no casual thing: "my flesh trembles", says the Psalmist. A similar expression is used in Job 4:14-15: "Fear came upon me, and trembling, Which made all my bones shake. Then a spirit passed before my face; The hair on my body stood up." Similar idioms we use today are "it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up" or "my skin crawl". The phrase I like to express this idea is "a shiver of awe", because this is not a "scared" fear, but a deep awe and reverence.
Fear not with a slavish fear, but an awful fear, composed of reverence and love.
—Thomas MantonThe direction of this fear is crucial. It is directed towards God, the only proper object of such a profound emotion. We are not to fear man, the Bible tells us in Matthew 10:28: "And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Fear of men brings a snare, as Proverbs 29:25 states, but the fear of the Lord will drive out the fear of men.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.