Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
In a Christian's course fear and love must go together. In heaven, love will absorb fear. No one now can love God aright without fearing Him. Self-confident men, who do not know their own hearts, or the reasons they have for being dissatisfied with themselves, do not fear God, and they think this bold freedom is to love Him. Deliberate sinners fear, but cannot love Him. But devotion to Him consists in love and fear, as we may understand from our ordinary attachment to each other. No one really loves another who does not feel a certain reverence towards him. It is mutual respect which makes friendship lasting. So again in the feelings of inferiors towards superiors. Fear must go before love. Till he who has authority shows he has it and can use it, his forbearance will not be valued truly: his kindness will look like weakness. We learn to contemn what we do not fear, and we cannot love what we contemn. So in religion also, We cannot understand Christ's mercies till we understand His power, His glory, His unspeakable holiness, and our demerits; that is, until we first fear Him. Not that fear comes first, and then love; for the most part they will proceed together. Fear is allayed by the love of Him, and our love sobered by our fear of Him. Thus He draws us on with encouraging voice amid the terrors of His threatenings. Are we in danger of speaking or thinking of Christ irreverently? We may not be in danger of deliberate profaneness, but we are in danger of this, namely, of allowing ourselves to appear profane, and of gradually becoming irreverent while we are pretending to be so. Careless language cannot be continued without its affecting the heart at last. Men become the cold, indifferent, profane characters they professed themselves to be.
(J. H. Newman, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.