Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalm 85:9, ESV)

A lot rests on the meaning of the word “fear” here because the Lord’s salvation is near “to those who fear him.”  The word does mean fear, but not in the sense of being frightened as if by a ghost in the night.  It is a fear that is expressed in reverence and awe and worship; it is stronger than reverence (thus the use of the word “fear”), but it is a devotional fear.  This kind of fear is produced by the mightiness of the object feared, much like the four siblings in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe fear Aslan, but are strangely attracted to the great lion also.

The salvation of the Lord is near to those who fear him, and the result is that glory dwells in our land.  The word “glory” means “honor, divine presence.”  Here we think it means that God’s divine presence dwells in our land when we show deep, profound respect and awe for our Lord.  This is not a function of doing equals receiving, but out of a changed life comes new behavior.  The changed heart comes first, and then comes devotion to our Lord.

There is an interesting description of what this looks like in practice in Ernest Gordon‘s book To End All Wars, an account of a revival that took place in the POW camp at Changkai, Thailand during WWII.  The entire camp was radically changed as men came to faith.

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