Last week I assisted with the funeral of a Marine Veteran. For sure, it was sad in many respects, but there were also things that made it a rich experience. Family love and connections were strong—their fierce loyalty and affection were evident throughout the day.
And then there were Marines…everywhere. I actually met several Marines who said things like, “I didn’t really know him, but I served in the Marines and I just wanted to be here for the family.” They hugged each other and stuck together like fresh-cut grass on our shoes on a wet day. Camaraderie like that puts followers of Christ to shame when we criticize each other.
Perhaps unique to small town America, there was an unforgettable procession. Seventy-five cars by one estimate, we traveled for nearly fifty miles to the National Cemetery with cars stopping alongside the road and many men standing outside their vehicles in respect (some saluting). Four police cars led the way with blue lights flashing, stopping cars at intersections. On the way out of Dayton there was a fire engine salute with a huge American flag hanging over the highway. Did I mention a veteran-based motorcycle formation with American flags rode just before the hearse? I’m feeling pretty blessed and patriotic right now. Aren’t you?
Similarly, Psalm 36 expresses the extraordinary richness of our experience with God’s steadfast love. David writes for the choir words we can sing and pray to the Father, too. “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgements are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love!...For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light (vss. 5-7, 9).” Of the fountain John Calvin wrote, “There is not one drop of life to be found without Him.” This is the heart song of God’s children in personal and gathered worship.
The Psalm is framed in reality—wickedness and wicked people abound and can assault our joy. They “have no fear of God” (v. 2). The word here is one for dread, and that’s the future for those who do not turn from themselves and turn to Christ alone. The other word for fear used in Scripture for “the fear of the Lord” is ours—“to be so filled with joyful awe before the magnificence of God that we tremble at the privilege of knowing, serving, and pleasing Him.” Father, stir up that desire in me and never let it die. Grant, too, that all who read this will be captivated—in awe—of You and You alone.
David ends with a petition and a promise: to wait humbly and to stay focused in the midst of evil and evil doers. Our hope is certain: God will have the last word; their doom is assured. Our future is secure.
Aren’t you glad David speaks our heart?!