Last week, we looked at the acrostic Psalm 37. When I finally looked back before writing this post, I noticed an acrostic on September 1 for Psalm 112. Today’s Psalm 111 is also an acrostic. In some respects, it would be good to consider 111 & 112 together, but the theme of each is very different. They are both short, just ten verses, and contain two letters per verse except for nine and ten containing three verses.
Psalm 111 praises God, while 112 praises the righteous individual. As we look at each of the first seven lines, we see they describe the greatness of God. The next 12 lines describe God’s gifts to us. The last three lines begin with, The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. JSB
That single statement is the key message of the Bible.
We must understand the Hebrew meaning that most English translations turn into fear. The word is yir’ah. That is the feminine form of yare. Yare means fearing or reverent while yir’ah means reverence or fear.
Instead of using the word that stresses fear, the author used the form that stresses reverence. For ancient Hebrews, when they were talking about God, they meant both fear and reverence. There was no option to approach God without both.
Today, we in America especially have removed fear from the equation. Many now have the notion that in Christ, we can say to God, “Yo, Man, how’s it hanging?” If we look at Jesus, he never got more personal than to call God Abba, which means Daddy.
In other words, Jesus never assumed he was on equal footing with Yahwah. Yes, he could call on God as a father, and we can as well, but we should always call on God with that sense of fear we find in the Hebrew word.
There is a famous photo of Eisenhower talking with some soldiers of the 101st Airborne the day before they dropped into France. He was talking to Lt. Strobel from Michigan about fly fishing. Right behind him was a sergeant who answered when Ike asked if there was anyone from Kansas. Then the four-star general asked the sergeant his name and the man was so awed by Ike that he forgot his own name. That is something like how we should approach God.
Yahweh is a God who heals people through His son Jesus. He is a God who turns fish and bread into a feast for thousands. He is a God who brings the dead back to life. How can we ever not have a little fear of Him? But it should always be a combination of fear, respect, and reverence.
Everyone who works on the long-distance electric power lines approaches them with that kind of fear. They tend to run around 345,000 volts, over 8,000 amps. There is simply no second chance, no do-overs, no choice but to concentrate and do it by the book every time.
As Christians, we too often forget about the book and just do it our own way. At least with God, there are do-overs. But there still is no easy button.
Or is there? Yeshua the Messiah; Jesus the Christ?
Be righteous and do good.