The psalmist prayed, "Rulers persecute me without cause, but my heart trembles at your Word." (Ps 119:161, NIV). This verse in the NET Bible reads: "Rulers pursue me for no reason, yet I am more afraid of disobeying your instructions." The literal Hebrew translation of the second half of this verse in the NET Bible notes says, “'And because of your instructions my heart trembles.' The psalmist’s healthy 'fear' of the consequences of violating God’s instructions motivates him to obey them."
It seems the psalmist was more afraid of God's Word than he was of the powerful rulers who persecuted him without cause. This is just as the Lord Jesus taught us when He said, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Mt 10:28, NIV).
This psalmist practiced this when he said to God earlier in Psalm 119, "My flesh trembles in fear of you; I stand in awe of your laws." (Ps 119:120, NIV)
You know, there's another verse that speaks about trembling at His Word, and that's in the last book of the prophet Isaiah. He prophesied, "These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at My Word." (Is 66:2, NIV).
The Hebrew word for tremble in Isaiah 66:2 is wə•ḥā•rêḏ, which is derived from the word chârêd meaning "fearful; afraid, trembling." The Greek word in Isaiah 66:2 for tremble in the Septuagint is tremonta, which is a form of the word tremo, meaning "tremble (with dread), i.e. shake and quiver from fear." (J. Thayer). This is not just a general reverence for the Scriptures, but an actual trembling in fear of it in a healthy, loving way. In verse 2, the Lord says that He esteems the one who is humble and contrite, and who trembles at His Word.
Applying it to Our Lives
Do I tremble at His Word? That's a good question for each of us to ask ourselves. If you want to be esteemed by the Lord, then according to Isaiah 66:2, you definitely should tremble at His Word.
Perhaps another good reason we should do so is that we will be judged according to what is written in His Word. Our Lord Jesus said, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day." (Jn 12:47-48, NIV). If anyone rejects Jesus and does not accept His Words, then the very Word of God will condemn that person on the last day. But someone may say, "I don't reject Jesus. I have accepted Him and I accept His Word." Well enough then, but do you actually keep His Word? I'm not talking about owning a Bible or carrying one, but reading it and being a doer of the Word, because the Lord said if anyone hears His words but does not keep them, the very words He has spoken that are written in the Bible will condemn that person in the end. He said what He meant, and He meant what He said. Since that is true, we have good reason to tremble at His Word with a humble and contrite heart, since our very souls depend on it.
I didn't say that, Jesus did. He is the one who said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Mt 7:21, NIV). That narrows it down to very few who will enter the kingdom, since only those who do the will of the Father in heaven will enter that place. That eliminates those who merely call Him Lord, but do not do what He says. He said, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Lk 6:46, NIV). So what becomes of those who do not do what He says in His Word? This is what will happen to them. Jesus said, "I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" (Mt 7:23, NIV). This is the gospel according to Jesus. Therefore, as James said, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (Jam 1:22, NIV). Our eternal destination depends on this, so let's not forget that. It's my hope that this has given us all a deeper appreciation for the Word of God, and that we would always tremble at His Word.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible New International Version (NIV), copyright Zondervan, used by permission.
Author's note: If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to read my other articles called Should you fear the Lord?, Salvation with Fear and Trembling, The Obedience of Faith, Is Obedience Optional?, Obedient to the Heavenly Vision, Following in His Steps, Living on Earth as They Do in Heaven, Doing What is Right, Faith Works!, If -- A Picture Paints a Thousand Words, Aim for Perfection, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Called to Be Blameless, Election and Predestination, and my daughter's poem, Overflowing Blessings. There are more articles on the Home page of this blog, too. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.