Friday, October 20, 2006

I have begun something new each morning. As I begin my personal prayer time, I will open the Scriptures - usually to a Psalm - and read through a verse or two (or even the Psalm) and meditate on the person and character of God. This morning I was reading through Psalm 96. I recognized something in the Hebrew that I have not recognized before in this Psalm. It struck me.

Psalm 96:4 says, "For Great is Yahweh and Greatly to be Praised. Awesome (norah) is He over all gods." Upon reading this verse that is ever so clear in teaching the incomparable characteristics of Yahweh God over all other (pagan and mythological) gods of the Ancient Near East at that time, I was awed by the awesomeness of the God of the Bible.

The fact that the Psalmist says that He (Yahweh) is norah (what we translate "awesome") is from the Hebrew root yareh meaning "to fear; to tremble; to be afraid." I am not suggesting that we - as New Testament believers - ought to be afraid of God. But what I am saying is that, so often, we too quickly forget that Yahweh God ought to be feared. He has the power to crush anyone who does not submit to His sovereign will and authority.

I was contemplating and praying over this and thought, "God doesn't need to take a life away from anyone, if God were to stop giving life to a person, that would be their death. Upon pondering this thought, I remembered that it is this High, Lofty and Sovereign King whom I serve. He is worthy of my awe and reverence. It would deem me well to tremble before Him and remember who I am when compared to who He is.

So when we speak of our Yahweh God (of both the OT and NT) being "awesome," let us never forget what that word really means in the original. He is the one worthy of all fear, adoration, awe and reverence. To Him be the Glory forever and ever. Amen.


Aubrey Laughlin said...

Good observation, Geoff. In Modern Hebrew, "norah" literally means terrible. If you say "lo norah" (which you hear a lot here), it means "it is not terrible" ...kind of like "don't worry." However, if you want to say that something is "bad" is just "rah"....but if you want to amplify that sense of "badness" to a much greater is "norah" (terrible)...much different than our English modern day use of "awesome."

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your observation. I know there are some semantic differences from Biblical and Modern Hebrew. Oftentimes, there can be connections made, but I was aware of the fact that "norah" in Modern Heb. means "terrible" and "rah" means "incredibly bad." Thanks for the kind words!
Blessings to you and Mark in the Holy Land.

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