Douglas Wilson, expounding the amazing Psalm 97 in his new book, Basic Christian Living: A Survey Course on Practical Christianity (Canon Press), pages 10–11:
Holiness is wild. Holiness is three tornadoes in a row. Holiness is a series of black thunderheads coming in off the bay. Holiness is impolite. Holiness is darkness to make a sinful man tremble. Holiness beckons us to that darkness, where we do not meet ghouls and ghosts, but rather the righteousness of God. Holiness is a consuming fire. Holiness melts the world. And when we fear and worship a God like this, what is the result? Gladness of heart.
Worship a god who does nothing but kittens and pussy willows and you will end in despair. Worship the God of the jagged edge, the God whose holiness cannot be made palatable for the middle-class American consumer, and the result is deep gladness.
Do you hear that? Gladness, not pomposity. And, thank God, such gladness does not make us parade about with cheeks puffed slighted out, or speak with lots of rotund vowels, or strut with a sanctimonious air. Gladness, laughter, joy — set these before you. This is deep Christian faith, and not what so many are marketing today in the name of Jesus. The tragedy is that in the name of relevance the current expression of the faith today is superficial all the way down.
Those who love and worship the Lord are called to hate evil. So this is why an ethical application of the vision of the holy is most necessary. If we bypass this vision of who God actually is, the necessary result will be a prissy moralism, and not the robust morality of the Christian faith. The distance between moralism and true morality is vast, and the thing that creates this distance is knowledge of the holy.
Now go re-read Psalm 97.