I mention Luther’s Small Catechism in this article. Click here for information about the FREE Small Catechism app!!! Nod to Augsburg Fortress for making this available to the public!
S (Scripture): Psalm 90
8 You put our sins right in front of you, set our hidden faults in the light from your face.
11 Who can comprehend the power of your anger?
The honor that is due you corresponds to your wrath.
12 Teach us to number our days
so we can have a wise heart.
13 Come back to us, Lord!
Have some compassion for your servants!
14 Fill us full every morning with your faithful love
so we can rejoice and celebrate our whole life long.
15 Make us happy for the same amount of time that you afflicted us—
O (Observation): The psalmist recognizes that God has expectations of those who call on the Lord for hope and salvation. When God-fearers disappoint God, the psalmist recognizes a type of wrath that comes from God.
Whether this is a fear-motivation, or simply someone who doesn’t want to disappoint God…the pslamist recognizes that while God can be full of wrath, God also has the capacity for compassion and mercy.
This combination fills God-fearers with both fear and great joy.
A (Application): 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther was one of the most famous leaders within this movement.
In the early 1500’s, Luther travelled throughout the area of Saxony (in modern-day Germany). He was greatly disappointed in his findings. He was seeking to know what the common people knew of the God which they feared. They knew very little about God and almost nothing of the Scriptures. They paid their taxes to the Church, though. All they knew of God was that they were to fear God.
Luther helped to change this view of an angry God. Luther discovered – through reading the scriptures, which was something very few clergy actually did! – that God was not only wrathful at times, but was also found to be full of mercy and compassion, as well!
This psalm captures both fear and joy in being a follower of God. The fear allows us to be respectful towards God and to follow God’s ways, however, the compassion God has for us brings us joy and mercy.
As Luther saw the lack of Christian Education throughout his homeland of Saxony, he created a resource known as The Small Catechism. The Small Catechism teaches about 5 fundamental elements of the Christian faith: The 10 Commandments, The Creed, The Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, and Holy Communion.
As Luther creates explanations for the elements of The 10 Commandments, he begins each explanation of each commandment with “We are to fear and love God, so that…” In this repeated phrase, Luther captures the elements of fear and compassion of our God seen here in Psalm 90.
May you know that a healthy respect and awe of the Lord is good. And just as good is the compassion and mercy given to us by our God!
P (Prayer): Lord, we fear and love you. Help us to be okay with both…for you are mighty in power and love. Amen.