VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2001 ( The "fascination" that God exerts on man is a duel between his tremendous force and serene tenderness, with the latter prevailing, says John Paul II.

At today´s general audience attended by thousands of people in St. Peter´s Square, the Pope spoke of the powerful images of Psalm 28, "the Psalm of the seven thunders." It was part of his ongoing series of reflections on the Psalms and biblical canticles used in the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Holy Father focused on the passage that presents thunder "as a symbol of the divine voice, with its transcendent and unattainable mystery, which invades created reality to disturb and frighten it, but which in its profound meaning is a word of peace and harmony."

The images used by the author of the Psalm to show the power of God are overwhelming, the Pope said. The tall cedars of Mount Lebanon are twisted victims of the lightening and seem to leap under the thunder like frightened animals, he noted.

When fear seems to take hold of the believer, the biblical passage offers him "the harmony of the liturgical singing" and, in this way, "terror is replaced by the certainty of divine protection," the Holy Father said.

This is the profound experience of God, felt by every man who approaches him, something that the Pope said was illustrated by German philosopher Rudolph Otto (1869-1937), one of the thinkers who most analyzed the religious experience.

Otto observed, on the one hand, that one perceives the "tremendum" of God, namely, "his ineffable transcendence and presence as just judge in the history of humanity," the Pope said. On the other hand, God´s "fascinosum" is presented, "the fascination that emanates from his grace, the mystery of love that is poured out on the faithful, the serene security of the blessing reserved for the just one," the Holy Father added.

"Even before the chaos of evil, the storms of history, and the very anger of divine justice," this experience makes "the man of prayer feel at peace, enveloped in the mantle of protection that Providence offers the one who praises God and follows his ways," the Pope explained.

Therefore, John Paul II concluded, "following the storm, similar to the destructive deluge of human malice, now arches the rainbow of divine blessing, which recalls the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature."