I don’t remember much from the Iliad and the Odyssey when I read them in high school. In fact, I remember almost nothing. My entire knowledge of the plot line, characters, et al, comes from the made-for-TV movie starring Armand Assante, Bernadette Peters, and Vanessa Williams, among others, which we watched in mythology class after “reading” the actual books/poems/stories/whatever.
Anyway, at the end of the story, Odysseus, who has journeyed far and wide in an effort to return home after experiencing adventure after adventure, reveals his true identity among a group of surly and unsavory suitors for his wife Penelope’s love, possessions, and title. At that point, a gruesome battle ensues and Odysseus wipes out all these characters who had been proclaiming to Penelope that he was dead and had beenn trying to steal his kingdom.
Our attitudes and behavior towards a person change when their true identity is revealed. This can happen with God as well. As humans, we are prone to keep God in a box, limited by our own ideas, misconceptions, and fears. But when we, for whatever reason, are presented with God’s true nature and character, our eyes will be opened.
Insights from the Septuagint
6Arise, Lord, in your wrath;
be exalted in the end of my enemies;
be awakened, O Lord my God, in the command which you give.
7And the assembly of the peoples will surround you;
and because of this you will return on high.
There are a couple of notable differences here to point out. The second line of verse six in the ESV reads, “lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies.” In this case, it’s an appeal for God to act. In the LXX, we have “be exalted in the end of my enemies.” This is a statement of faith. No enemy can stand against God. As people of God, our enemies are his enemies. And as the people of God, our enemies have been vanquished because God is in control.
The last line of verse six in the ESV says, “awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.” In the LXX we have, “be awakened, O Lord my God, in the command which you give.” In the first case, we have another appeal, this time for God to act according to his promises. In the second time, we have an appeal for God to act according to the commands he has given (which most likely are being disobeyed by David’s enemies). It is an appeal for justice.
Law & Gospel
These verses present an appeal for God to reveal himself to the world for who he is: God. The verbs, “arise”, “lift yourself”, and “awake” all seem to indicate that David feels as if God has been “laying low” for a while. It’s time that he flexed some “divine muscle”, so to speak.
As God reveals himself, there are two potential responses, and they are not mutually exclusive. First, there is terror as one finds he has been in opposition to God and God has suddenly revealed himself to be much, much more powerful than that person initially believed.
I believe that we often struggle with contrition and repentance for our sins because at the heart of the matter, we don’t actually believe that God is in control, or even that he exists at all. In “The Truth Project”, R.C. Sproul makes this statement: “There is a deep-rooted psychology of atheism in the heart that creates bias in the mind.” It’s easy for us humans to go down that path, especially when we can’t see, hear, or touch God.
But then something brings us to a point where we realize that God is in control. We realize that there is a God, and he’s much more than we ever could have imagined. And we realize that we have been living in rebellion against him with our lives, actions, words, and thoughts. We experience his anger. He has every right to snuff us out of existence.
But he doesn’t.
And now we see that the second response we have to God as he reveals himself is worship. Look at what verse seven says. “Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.” God has arisen. He has lifted himself up. He has awakened. The peoples see him for who he is, and they gather around him. He’s clothed in splendor and majesty. He’s amazing, marvelous, pure, holy, righteous – the list goes on and on. And we are all drawn to him, because he is so much of what we are not.
Thankfully, we have Jesus Christ to bridge the gap between our terror and fear of God in his anger and our awe and worship of him in his majesty. “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them,” (2 Cor. 5:19). “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Rom. 5:8). “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4:9-10).
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that in John’s vision of heaven in the book of Revelation we have song after song praising God for who he is. We should be echoing those words daily.
Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy,
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
 It’s not that great, if you haven’t seen it, don’t bother.
 He had been posing as an old hermit
 Mostly for the possessions and title
 More like a massacre