Psalm 76 celebrates the justice of God and declares that He is awesome and fearsome. We can either stand in awe of God's justice or fear His wrath.
Psalm 76 continues the theme of judgement found in Psalm 75 but with an emphasis on God's awesome and fearsome nature.
The psalm divides into four sections:
- His Name is Great
- You Are Glorious
- You Are Awesome
- He is Fearsome
The meaningful center (Psalm 76:7a) is especially noteworthy. The ESV translates it as "But you, you are to be feared!" In the original Hebrew it is only three words:
You! Awesome You!
These three words are preceded and followed by 41 words in Hebrew. 41 is the Hebrew numerical value of the central word, "yaré", which means "awesome". Such a poetically powerful way to capture the essence of this psalm! (The numerical value of a letter is its position in the Hebrew alphabet. The numerical value of a word is the sum of each letter's numerical value.)
The Hebrew word "yaré" can be translated as "awesome" or "feared". The truth is that God is both awesome and fearsome. It all depends on which side of His justice you stand. If you desire to see evil vanquished than God's justice is awe inspiring. But if you are on the receiving side of His justice than it is fearsome.
We can all find protection from God's justice by faith in Christ, but if you decide to ignore His offer of forgiveness than God is truly someone to fear.
His Name Is Great
The psalmist declares that God's glorious name is known to those in Judah. Why? Because His temple resides there and He has destroyed the weapons that have been brought against them.
Is God's name glorious in your life? Does He reside there? Are you resting in His saving act on the cross? Through Jesus' death and resurrection
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:15
You Are Glorious
The psalmist recounts God's victory over the enemy. Both horse and rider are stunned and fall into the sleep of death.
God's defeat of the horse and rider are a consistent theme in scripture pointing back to His defeat of Egypt at the Red Sea. As Exodus 15:1 and 21 say,
the horse and the rider he has thrown into the sea.
The power of the enemy is nothing compared to the power and protection we have in God!
You Are Awesome
You! Awesome You!
Wow! God is awesome! God is fearsome!
Who can stand before you when once your anger is roused? Psalm 75:7b
Why is God rising up to establish justice? To save the humble of the earth.
Sometimes we doubt the goodness of God when we read of his acts of judgement. But it is so important to keep in mind that justice is an act of love for those who are being oppressed. If God did not act in judgment, evil would flourish.
He Is Fearsome
God's justice is both praiseworthy and fearful. And so, as Isaiah 55:6 says,
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
The psalmist reminds us to "make your vows to the Lord your God and perform them" (Psalm 76:11). As believers we have claimed Jesus as our Lord. Is this simply words that we have said or are we willing to back those words up with faithful service?
How awesome it is to see God work justice on this earth. We all long for a time when evil is completely removed and we no longer have to hear about horrible crimes committed against helpless people.
How fearsome, though, is God's wrath. If we chose to ignore God's offer of salvation and continue to reject His ways then we should fear. God's justice is sure and fearsome.