11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
When we make ourselves available to serve God sincerely, feelings of joy mingled with fear 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 co-exist in the hearts of those who serve the LORD. Both are necessary feelings of those who come into 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 must also possess great fear of His wrath against disobedient conduct in the midst of divine service. The LORD should be served with awe; 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, which are essential to the LORD’s work. It will drive away reluctance, slothfulness and sinful habits from the hearts of His servant and will fill them 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 of joy in the LORD’s service. Those who serve God in godly fear will find themselves filled with joy unspeakable in the presence of God. Their reverential fear of the greatness of God dispels hesitancy and gloom to serve Him. Cheerful, happy service then freely flows out of their hearts, which are filled with the glory of the sovereign LORD. The service of God begets the highest joy that a man has ever known. When the hearts of His servants are overwhelmed with such earnest and sombre emotions, they would even be overcome with “trembling”! Unlike the carnal and worldly rejoicing that produces a puffed-up attitude, the spiritual joy of service evokes solemn inner impulses of humility and devotion, which are referred to here as “trembling”. The LORD’s servant is girded with humility and submission as he reverentially and joyfully renders his service.