11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
When we avail ourselves to serve God sincerely, mingled feelings of fear and joy would fill our hearts. Divine service often engenders many emotions and virtues in the hearts of His servants. Here the psalmist speaks of fear, joy and trembling as the expected and most suitable feelings and experiences of the LORD’s servants.
Fear and joy may appear to be two contrasting feelings, yet they coexist in the heart of those who serve the LORD. Both are necessary feelings of those who come before the awesome presence of God to serve Him.
Scripture reminds us in Psalm 89:7, “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” We must not only have great reverence for the LORD’s majesty, but also must possess great fear of His wrath against disobedient conduct in divine service. The LORD should be served with awe; and all the teachings of God’s Word confirm this. His majesty, power, holiness, justice, are to be greatly feared.
Such fear of the LORD makes His servant exceedingly cautious and diligent as he renders himself to the LORD’s work. The fear of the LORD makes him wise unto holiness, faithfulness and fervency that are essential to the LORD’s work. It will drive away reluctance, slothfulness and sinful habits from the hearts of His servant and fill it with readiness, zeal, and obedience for solemn service before Him.
The fear of God is never detrimental to one’s spiritual joy. It is rather a forerunner to joy in the LORD’s service. Those who serve God in godly fear would find themselves to be filled with joy unspeakable in the presence of God. Their reverential fear for the greatness of God dispels hesitancy and gloom to serve Him. Then, cheerful, happy service freely flows out of their hearts that are filled with glory of the sovereign LORD. The service of God begets the highest joy that a man have ever known. When the hearts of His servants are overwhelmed with such earnest and sombre emotions, he would even be overcome with “trembling”. Unlike the carnal and worldly rejoicing that produces puffed-up attitude, the spiritual joy of service evokes solemn inner impulses of humility and devotion, which is referred to here as “trembling”. The LORD’s servant is girded with humility and submission as he renders divine services reverentially and joyfully.