If we were playing a game of word association, I’m not sure they’d be the two words most quickly, or even most likely to be put together. No one would be surprised if you heard “black” in response to “white.” Or, “sun” connected to “moon.” Or, “shirt” as what comes to mind immediately for “pants.” Or, “southern gospel” as the no-brainer for “heaven’s music.” But “forgiveness” and “fear”? Hmm . . .
If You, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared.
(Psalm 130:3-4 ESV)
Forgiven to fear. Chew on that for a bit.
Delivered for dread. Redeemed for reverence. Sin atoned so that the soul would be held in awe.
The songwriter’s assessment of the penalty of sin is accurate. If the holy God of heaven should keep a record of our wrongdoings, we’re done. None could stand before Him.
But God hasn’t logged our sins with indelible ink. Through the cross, He has made a way to redeem us from all iniquities (v.8), writing over the record of our wrongs “Paid in Full” with the blood of His own Son. And thus, we do stand. Declared holy, robed in the righteousness of Christ, because the God of “plentiful redemption” (v.7) has removed our transgressions from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Ps. 103:12), we stand before Him in the splendor of His holiness.
And in that place, face to face with God by faith through the fullness of His forgiveness, there should be a fear. A divine dread. A holy reverence. Awestruck wonder. Jaw-dropping astonishment. Face to the ground worship.
Through His forgiveness we have been reconciled. Once separated we are now brought near. And as we draw near to the I AM in all His glory and majesty, like Isaiah, we find ourselves crying out, “I am undone!” (Isa. 6:5 KJV). Like John on Patmos, who encountered the One who walks among the churches, “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead” (Rev. 1:17).
Forgiveness and fear. Shouldn’t they go together like “baseball” and “bat”?
I’m thinkin . . .
Because of grace. For His glory.