# 237 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 76. Standing in awe of God.

In 1986 Mark Altrogge wrote the following words concerning the awesomeness of God. It has now been sung many times since then in churches all over the world:

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvellous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty, enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God, to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You

Last time, when we considered Psalm 76, I wrote that Wilcock suggests that in this Psalm, God is seen as “the Self-revealing One” (vv. 1-3) and “the Shining One” (vv. 4-6) and as we read on, the “Awe-inspiring One” (vv. 7-12).   (# 5)  Having considered the first two, today we will think about the last one, the fact that our God is the “Awe-inspiring One.” From verse 8 the psalmist writes:

 As the earth itself holds its breath in awe before you,
judgment is decreed from heaven.
You arise to punish evil and defend the gentle upon the earth.
Pause in his presence
10 You have power to transform man’s futile anger into praise.
The fury of your enemies only causes your fame to increase.
11 So you’d better keep every promise you’ve ever made
to the Awesome One, Jehovah-God!
Let all people bring their extravagant gifts to him alone.
12 He is famous for breaking the spirit of the powers that be.
And the kings of the earth will know him as the Fearsome One!  (TPT)

So, what does this word “awe” or “awesome” really mean. There was a time when it was one of those words used by the younger generation to describe something they appreciated or were impressed by. For example, the words of a surfer might be, “Wow, that wave was awesome!” It could cover an event, clothes, cars, food, etc. In fact, almost anything which somehow captured a young person’s imagination as being praiseworthy.

The dictionary definition is inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear. Now this takes it a lot further than the popular use of the word. Last time we talked about cyclones and I think that is an example of something that could inspire in us a feeling of reverence, admiration and most probably healthy fear. It is truly awesome due to its incredible power to overwhelm (and even destroy) everything in its path.

But even this pales into insignificance when compared to the Almighty Creator God. In the Bible it is often used to describe God as the examples following show.

Having delivered the Israelites from the power of the Egyptian Pharaoh after the crossing of the Red Sea, Miriam sings a song in praise of God and his power to save. She sings: 

11 Who among the gods
    is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
    majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
    working wonders?  
(Exodus 15:11)

Later Moses spoke of the challenges they would face in entering into the “promised land” and says :

Do not be terrified by them [the Canaanites], for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God.   (Deuteronomy 7:21)

Not only is God awesome as in Psalm 47:2 where it proclaims:

 For the Lord Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth.

But, so is all that he does:

You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Saviour, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas.  (Psalm 65:5)

Certainly, our God is awesome in the true sense of the word.

But the Bible then describes what is most awesome of all and that is what we discover concerning God’s awesome love in relation to Jesus in the New Testament. This can be summarized in the following words from John’s Gospel:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.      (John 3:16-17)

Mark Altrogge put it like this concerning the sacrifice of Jesus:

You are beautiful beyond description
Yet God crushed You for my sin
In agony and deep affliction
Cut off that I might enter in

Who can grasp such tender compassion?
Who can fathom this mercy so free?
You are beautiful beyond description
Lamb of God who died for me

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God, to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You.                                     Amen

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