Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
There are folks who think that the whole “Son of God” doctrine is a New Testament thing; a new doctrine. But it really isn’t. This psalm actually speaks of God begetting the Son (v7). So the whole “only begotten Son of God” doctrine can be traced at least as far back as this. That, however, isn’t really the thing that struck me about this verse.
What struck me about the verse is that it gives an instruction then gives two potential outcomes — one for following the instruction and the other for not. The word translated as Do homage here essentially (according to the concordance) means to put together. I think I am best served by thinking of the verse as telling me to relate rightly to the Son, to put myself together with Him in the correct way. Everyone will meet (be “put together”) with the Son at some point. The question is not if we will meet Him; will be put together with Him, but what the nature of that meeting will be.
Outcome number one is the outcome of wrong relation to the Son. We are warned that we should be careful that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, / For His wrath may soon be kindled. The imagery of the language only came out when I looked up the words. To become angry is a decent rendering, but the meanings given include to breathe hard, giving the impression of someone trying to hold back their anger. The image of His wrath being soon kindled could also be rendered His face will soon burn. The picture, when I use the alternate translations, is one of a person who is being enraged — their breath coming shorter, their face turning red as they try to endure the provocation being perpetrated. The psalmists knew a great deal more about the Son; about Jesus than we sometimes give them credit for. The psalmists knew how he was going to die and that He is God (and God’s Son) and a great deal more. There is so much prophecy about Jesus woven into the psalms that it’s a wonder we’re not reading them all the time. But the point here is that wrong relation to the Son angers Him. He came; He lived; He died; He rose again in order that we might be saved from the damnation waiting for us. I feel that He shows remarkable restraint with us in not just nuking the place and starting over. He shows admirable forbearance in not doling out damnation in buckets. He did ALL that was needful to get any person into Heaven — anyone who trusts Christ can be saved. Is it any wonder, then, that John sees Jesus as glowing like bronze that just came out of a fire and like the sun in its glory? Jesus has been holding back for so long, it’s a wonder John could look at Him at all.
Outcome number two is the outcome of right relation to the Son. The psalmist says that those who are rightly related to the Son are blessed. The word used here basically means happy. Those who are rightly related to the Son often have reason to be happy about that relationship. More than once, being rightly related to the Son (i.e. trusting Him to do all that pertains to righteousness in my life and doing my level best not to get in His way while He works) has been the source of happiness as other circumstances fell to pieces and that right relationship held firm; unshakable. More than a mere present happiness which is fleeting at best, right relation to the Son means entry to Heaven where I will see God face-to-face and do so with no reason to be ashamed. Often, I find myself having difficulty praying because I am acutely conscious of the things of which I feel ashamed. But the Son’s promise is a day when I will never again feel shame and when I will be able to run to God with all the undiluted fervor that He deserves. I will be able to come to Him as my daughter has come to me: smiling and full of gladness and eager to lavish Him with affection. For now, I bask in the moments of happiness that come unexpectedly and the ones that I can see coming for miles.
How to apply this? In short, I need to maintain a right relationship with the Son, Jesus Christ. When I sin, I confess. When I do well, I give Him glory. When He blesses, I thank Him. When He disciplines, I endure and seek to learn. In every circumstance (even the tough ones), I give Him thanks for being God and good and merciful and loving and so on. That is what I need to be doing every day. I need to be in right relation to the Son.