Fierce you are, and fearsome! Who can stand up to your rising anger?
From heaven you thunder judgment; earth falls to her knees and holds her breath.
God stands tall and makes things right, he saves all the wretched on earth.
Instead of smoldering rage--God praise! All that sputtering rage--now a garland for God! (Psalm 76:7-10, MSG)
I am much more comfortable with the images of God as the Shepherd, the God of Love, the Protector, the One who Hears. But reading the Psalms has challenged me to look at the fierce-and-fearsome God who gets angry at sin.
Fierce--aggressive, violent, profound
God is fierce. He's on the warpath against evil and evil doers. He knocks tyrants off their thrones and upholds the hand of the righteous. If we don't see God on the warpath very often, Peter explains the reason why: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) "Everyone" includes even those people we would judge harshly if it were left up to us: murderers, child molesters, rapists--ex-spouses and harsh bosses and rude customers.
God is fearsome. The Bible often uses the language of nature to describe the fear He invokes. Ocean saw you in action, God, saw you and trembled with fear; Deep Ocean was scared to death. (Psalm 77:16, MSG)begins verses that mention thunder, lightning, "buckets" of rain, whirlwinds (dare we add tornados?) and earthquakes.
I confess that I don't often think of God in those terms. Like many of my fellow Americans, I could use a dose of Jonathan Edwards' classic sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."
God wants to take our rage and turn it into praise and garlands for God. Instead of wasting our energy on sputtering rage, we can channel it into artistic expressions of praise through music and words and art, garlands of flowery praises to give back to God.
Today's favorite verse, another one for writers: And I'm telling the story of God Eternal, singing the praises of Jacob's God. (Psalm 75:9, MSG)
P.S. Sorry for no post last night. Computer problems!