This verse needs to find a home among us. The first half of this verse is something we might hear a lot. "But with [the LORD] there is forgiveness." It's a lovely statement. It's glorious news for sinners and is possible only because of Jesus' atoning sacrifice on the cross.
But this second statement might as well be written in a strange tongue. There is forgiveness with the LORD "that you may be feared." What? I thought the word on the street was that there is forgiveness so you can get out of jail free. Or, there is forgiveness so you can live any way you want. After all, isn't it God's job to forgive? What is up with God forgiving us so that we might fear the LORD?
If you realize how rotten a sinner you are and that God has been good to you and forgiven you the natural response is fear. It's a grateful fear to be sure. A fear that is also filled with love. A fear that desires to serve and worship. But there is fear there.
Maybe it's like the feeling you get when you make some bonehead mistake like losing control of your car because you are texting at 65 mph. Your life is on the line and you know this isn't going to turn out well and it's all your fault. But then, you come to a stop, in one piece, with no one injured, five feet from a cliff. Not only that but you are able to drive back onto the road and continue on your way. You are okay but your heart is in your stomach. You feel weak and yet a smile breaks out and you want to laugh. You are scared to death but grateful. You hate texting and driving and don't want to do that again. You tremble but are joyous.
Maybe it's like that...or maybe not. But a sinner (and I am talking about the chap who knows he is a sinner and nothing but a sinner) who finds forgiveness from the hand of the Lord fears the Lord. he fears the hell he narrowly missed out on; fears the consequences of his sin; fears God who rescued him although he didn't deserve it. He fears. He finds it hard to understand how God could be good to a person like him.
Fear flows from forgiveness. Fear flows from God's goodness toward sinners. Fear flows from God's grace.
They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it. (Jeremiah 33:9)
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. (Psalm 130:4)
As I said, this verse needs to find a home among us because where there is no fear there is no forgiveness and where there is no forgiveness there is no fear.