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Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Psalm 2:11 is the first appearance of joy/rejoicing in the Psalms. For some reason I skipped over this verse early on, but now that we’re in the midst of teaching confirmation again I really want to address it.

This one can be tough verse, because who thinks of service and rejoicing being a fearful thing? I like to think of it more in terms of Luther’s Small Catechism.

Martin Luther (not King Jr.) was a German who essentially started the Reformation way back almost 500 years ago tomorrow. He was adamant that the faith be back in the hands of the people, so he translated the scriptures into the language of the people, and he put together a catechism, or faith primer, for parents to use in teaching the basics of the faith to their children.

Anyway, this is the primary teaching tool we use for our confirmation class in Lutheran circles, and we have recently finished with teaching the Ten Commandments. After each commandment, Luther asks, “What does this mean?” and then gives a response. For the first commandment (You shall have no other gods), the response is, “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” Each of the other nine commandments’ responses begins with, “We should fear and love God so that…”

When we teach these commandments, we look at that word fear. It’s not fear in the Halloween sense of the word, but in the sense of awe and respect. We aren’t scared of God, although we do know that if He wanted to, He could crush us like a bug. But we fear Him, knowing that He is so far above all that we are or can imagine. We revere Him as one worthy of that respect. We stand in awe of His might, His majesty, His all-encompassing power and glory.

So we serve Him with fear, in response to the amazing things He has done for us. We rejoice in His love, and tremble in our gratitude.