Psalm 103:13 (NIV)
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
Our verse today speaks to the love of our Heavenly Father for His children … and so I wanted to go ahead and past it along today as well. The Psalmist observes how human fathers are compassionate to their children … realizing that they make mistakes … forgiving them when they fall short of expectations … and conveying to them that love is not based upon performance. Love. Compassion. Grace. Forgiveness. These are all things that fathers impart to their children. And so the Psalmist affirms that God deals with us, His children, in a similar manner. But I would venture to say, though, that it was God who modeled and taught us the true meaning of love and compassion in the first place…. Look at the surrounding text:
Psalm 103:7-14 (NIV)
7 He made known His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever;
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
14 for He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust.
Just a quick observation here – note the phrase “those who fear Him.” The Father’s love is great to those who fear Him. He has compassion on those who fear Him. You will find this expression used throughout Scripture. Often it contrasts how God deals with those who love Him versus those in rebellion and disobedient to Him. So if you are not “feeling the love” or “feeling the compassion” of God … then check your “fear”. Examine the sincerity of your reverence for God. How do you honor Him? How do you express your love or gratitude to Him? Do you spend time with Him? Is God in your thoughts throughout the day? In Verse 10, the Psalmist asserts, “God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” What do you think? Should He? Does God’s mercy affect how you view Him? How you worship Him?
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…. (Cf. Romans 8:1) How does knowing you have been set free from the wrath of God through Christ Jesus impact your reverence for God? Verse 12 above states, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” It reminds me of another Scripture: “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.” (Cf. Colossians 2:13-14) Oh, I think we really need to take a deeper look at “those who fear Him”. We need to stir ourselves up in this present generation and culture to revisit what it means to truly “fear” God … to have reverence for Him … to devote ourselves to His Word … to ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us so that holiness and righteousness come to the forefront of our minds each morning as a new day begins!
To fear God is to have the proper reverence and awe for Him so that we do whatever is required of us in order to serve Him. (Cf. Psalm 89:7; Hebrews 12:28) It means being cognizant of His presence – understanding that His eyes are upon us and His ears are attentive to our prayers. (Cf. Psalm 34:15) It means we are more concerned about what we might do to offend Him rather than how He might respond if we do. It means we are more concerned with not dishonoring Him; displeasing Him; or disgracing Him through our words or conduct. In short, it means that our deepest desire is to avoid sin at all cost. Likewise, it means that we wholly endeavor to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – and to keep His commandments. (Cf. Deuteronomy 10:12-13) The fear of the Lord is what captures our hearts to take sin seriously enough to die daily. After all, it was the sin of the world that compelled God to send His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (Cf. 1 John 2:2) Yes, sin in any form is that offensive to God!
In Psalm 130:3-4 (NIV) we read, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” Is it not the compassion of the Lord that leads us to “fear” Him? Is it not His kindness that leads us to repentance? (Cf. Romans 2:4) We need to meditate on this Word for us because the blessings of God … His great love … His compassion … are for those who fear Him! So what is the conclusion? “Now that all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Cf. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) Yes, at the end of the day, there is no doubt as to what the Father desires of His children. He wants us to love Him as demonstrated by our reverence and obedience to His commandments. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Cf. John 14:15) And John concluded, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (Cf. 1 John 5:3)
I pray that each of us will examine ourselves and think more deeply about all it means to “fear God.” I have probably only scratched the surface here, so I encourage us to look further into the Word of God for more wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Now that I think about it … that does sound ironic because “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Cf. Proverbs 9:10) But maybe that’s right! Maybe the fear of the Lord actually does begin with His Word….