Having grown up near the Atlantic ocean I learned to respect water. There are certain rules you learn to obey, not because they are forced on you but simply for survival. There are things you can do to enjoy the water but there are definitely other things you shouldn't do if you want to live. One thing you learn is that you always keep your wits about you when you are around water. You learn to respect the character of the Atlantic ocean.
In our age of hyper-grace I think we are forgetting the respect that is due our Creator. It is kind of like the line we get from Mr. Beaver in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. When Lucy asks if the lion, Aslan, is safe Mr. Beaver replies, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good." A wonderful description of Yahweh, one to which we should pay attention. If we understood his character we would understand why David writes of respecting him in the same way I learned to respect the powerful Atlantic ocean:
Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling. (Psalm 2:10-11)
Even king Solomon understood respecting the character of Yahweh, or at least he did before his hundreds of foreign wives interfered with his relationship:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
The character of Yahweh is nothing to be trifled with; he is not tame. The Atlantic ocean is not tame and never will be tamed. It is beyond the capability of man. Yahweh is beyond the concept of man and we can never reduce his character so that we can make him dance to our tune. To try to do so is to play in the water without respect. It will end in our demise.
We cannot play with Yahweh's words to make it say what we want. We cannot change the words or actions of Jesus to suit our thinking. We cannot dismiss the Spirit into non-existence. We cannot create our own god and then attach Yahweh's name, claiming that we are Christian. Our God cannot be mocked and those who try will discover the true nature of his character.
Our God, his testimony concerning himself, his instructions, his Spirit are to be respected and obeyed. This Hebrew word has been translated to "fear" and most people miss the point because we no longer live in an age where respect has much value. I hear ignorant people stating, "I will never obey God if he requires me to fear him". The ocean doesn't demand me to fear it, but it is a wise thing for me to develop a healthy fear of it if I wish to live. Fear is not as we use it today but it does imply a great respect of something so powerful it is out of your control to tame and get it to behave as we want.
Yahweh is love, but his character demands respect. We can't do whatever we want because his character has defined right from wrong, good from bad. We are a fallen creation because of our disobedience and he has done everything he can, paying the highest price, so that we might escape the consequences of our behaviour. Even this should never be trivialized but should provoke in us a response of love, so that we would desire to walk in his righteousness and respect him. I pray that Yahweh's people can re-discover this before it is too late.