Category Archives: Fear of the Lord

The Kind of Fear We Need

The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7 

Fear

What does it mean to “fear the Lord?” Does it mean we should run and hide every time we hear His name? Should we quake in our boots at the thought of Him? Well, I guess that all depends on whether or not you consider Him a friend or foe.

Sure, don’t be mistaken, there is plenty of room to fear God in the sense that we should “be afraid…be very afraid.” After all, we are nothing more than little specks in the universe, and the One of which we are talking was the one who existed before it all, made it all out of nothing, and holds it all together with the power of His will. If I get nervous standing next to a train track when a diesel locomotive chugs by causing the ground to rumble and my bones to shake, shouldn’t I be a little nervous of the God who breathed out the stars?

“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! – Luke 12:4-5 NKJV

It used to be common to hear someone say, “I’ll put the fear of God in them.” Unfortunately, aside from those who no longer believe God even exists, the Lord’s own followers often live in complete denial; they can’t imagine the same God who “dances over them” will condemn anyone to eternal damnation.

The Beginning

But in reality, a healthy fear – a massive, bone-chilling respect – of God should be the very beginning of all knowledge. It is the foundation on which godly wisdom is built.

Of course, I can hear what some of you are saying: “I can become wise without fearing an imaginary creation of bronze-age man.” Sure, go right ahead and see how that works. If, by chance, you make it through this life without being eaten alive with a gnawing emptiness that at every turn begs you to reevaluate the meaning for your existence, how will your self-based knowledge prepare you for the afterlife?

The way Solomon puts it, the ones who despise wisdom and instruction are fools – that’s pretty much a given. But even more, it’s the one who seeks knowledge while avoiding the Source that’s the greatest fool of all.

The ones who actually know something fear God. 

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Multiple Choice Living

Proverbs 28:14

“Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.” (KJV).
“Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.” (NIV). 

The Best Tests:

When I was in school, I always liked multiple choice tests the best. The way most of them were written, you could almost always rule out one or two of the right away, and if you even had a basic knowledge of the material, you would be able to do okay on the exam. In the Book of Proverbs, many times Solomon kind of makes life out to be like a multiple choice test. Only instead of four answers marked A, B, C or D, there are only two choices, and one of them is obviously the smarter choice.

Only Two Choices:

For example, in the above Scripture, Solomon says you have two choices: You can either fear always (that is, fear the Lord), or you can harden your heart. If you fear the Lord, you will be happy and blessed. If you harden your heart, you will fall into trouble or experience mischief. Who wants trouble? Not me! I don’t think any smart person does. So, we’ll choose answer “A!”

Fear the Lord:

What does it mean to fear the Lord? I don’t think it means that we have to cower terrified like someone in a horror movie running from zombies or vampires. Rather, I believe it means that we are to respect God. If we respect God as our Sovereign Lord, then we are going to honour His Word. If He says that we are to be loving, forgiving, accepting people, then that’s what we’re going to do. And we will realize that God doesn’t give us commandments to keep us from having fun. Rather, His commandments are for our own good! When we obey the Bible, we are happy and blessed.

Don’t Harden Your Heart:

What does it mean to harden your heart? I believe this happens when we choose to sin and disobey God. When that happens, we lose the tender sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in our heart, and day by day, it becomes more hardened. We become desensitized to sin, and stop feeling guilty about doing wrong things. Eventually, we are running away from God, and we end up in trouble and mischief. So don’t harden your heart!

Lord, we are so thankful that you are a good God, and that your commandments are for our own good, to give us a future and a hope. Help us to reverentially fear you, and trust that you are good, and that your commandments are so that we can experience the blessed life. In Jesus’ precious name, amen!


The Eyes Have It

Proverbs 27:20

“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
“Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” – NIV

I, I

I enjoy video games. I have done for a long long time. I have worked in a video game shop. When a new big game comes out I find it hard to resist: I want to play it, to experience it. I knew the latest Grand Theft Auto would be a well deserved 18: but I am a sensible deserving adult, right? However upon playing a portion of the game I just simply decided that I didn’t want this kind of thing in my life. I can appreciate that it is a good game: the mechanics work well but for me the mechanics are implemented in a dark fashion. So I got rid of it. To be honest it was a sacrifice. I enjoyed most elements of the game but when it forces me in a direction that I don’t want to go in and have no chance to skip, I have to make a choice.

Why? Because what I fill my life with dominates it. What I let my eyes see affects my actions. Or as Jesus put it: what I fill my heart with will eventually come to the surface. Let me be clear – I’m not suggesting that playing dark or violent video games will turn a person into a killer: just that at some point, on some level, it will have an impact on their mood and outlook. That’s why despite me enjoying parts of the game, especially the chance to play online with friends, I have decided it’s not for me. I guess it crossed a line that I didn’t want to. Now I still have games in my collection that involve things like shooting so what does this verse have to say about them?

Balance in Favour of God

The eyes are never satisfied. They take everything in and the more they see of one thing the more they want it. Be that video games, films, porn or purity. People talk about our lives being in balance but for me the key is to make sure your eyes see enough of God that they just keep wanting more. The times I have genuinely spent focusing on God are the times when all other things in my life take a back seat. You may not like video games but I guarantee there is something in your life that is your go to thing when God is not central. The thing you spend most of your time doing, or thinking about when you aren’t doing it. If we could make God that thing, a lot of our other problems would fade into insignificance.

Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’


A Difficult Thought

Proverbs 26:10

“The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.”
“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” – ESV

This proverb is a challenging one because of how many different ways it could be translated. As a matter of fact, practically every scholarly commentary admits the Hebrew in this proverb is difficult to interpret. That is why I am going to quote several of them before I leave my final thought for you.

Spence-Jones (The Pulpit Commentary)

Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth them that pass by. At first sight one would hardly suppose that these could be versions of the same passage. [1]

Garrett (The New American Commentary)

The Hebrew of v. 10 is almost unintelligible and thus subject to numerous interpretations, all of which are hypothetical. As the NIV has it, the verse reaffirms that one should not commit important tasks to fools (as in v. 6). Notwithstanding all the difficulties of the text, that does seem to be the main point.[2]

Friedrich and Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament)

All that we have hitherto read is surpassed in obscurity by this proverb, which is here connected because of the resemblance of ושכר to שכור. We translate it thus, vocalizing differently only one word:

            Much bringeth forth from itself all; But the reward and the hirer of the fool pass away.[3]

Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry

Our translation [KJV] gives this verse a different reading in the text and in the margin; and accordingly it expresses either, 1. The equity of a good God. The Master, or Lord (so Rab signifies), or, as we read it, The great God that formed all things at first, and still governs them in infinite wisdom, renders to every man according to his work. … Or, 2. The iniquity of a bad prince (so the margin reads it): A great man grieves all, and he hires the fool; he hires also the transgressors. When a wicked man gets power in his hand, by himself, and by the fools and knaves whom he employs under him, whom he hires and chooses to make use of, he grieves all who are under him and is vexatious to them. We should therefore pray for kings and all in authority, that, under them, our lives may be quiet and peaceable.[4]

Anthony Baker (Proverbial Thought)

So, here is what I think. Feel free to quote me 200 years from now.

A man is a fool when he employs a fool to complete a task. However, the biggest fool is one who thinks God, the Almighty Archer, will miss the target when He holds the wicked accountable.

We are always under His watchful eye, but the fool is never out of His “sights.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Proverbs, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 500.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 213.

[3] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 387.

[4] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994).


A Challenge to Changers

Proverbs 24:21-22

My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: for their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? – KJV
My child, fear the LORD and the king. Don’t associate with rebels, for disaster will hit them suddenly. Who knows what punishment will come from the LORD and the king? – NLT

Authority

This may be the only place in Scripture where God and an earthly king are spoken of as peers. It shouldn’t be considered the norm, but it is done in such a way to stress the importance of not only authority, but the link between authority and earthly leadership. Not all kings are godly, but no king rules without God’s knowledge.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. – Romans 13:1 KJV

Therefore, it is important to understand that when we stand in opposition to the king, we may be standing in opposition to God. Rebellion may be an option at times, but those who enter into it should be wary of the consequences.

Change

I wonder where these verses were during the 2008 presidential election? Many Obama supporters were running around America demanding “change,” yet when asked what they wanted to change to, no reasonable answer was given. Most would simply reply, “Well, anything is better than what we have.”

Change for change’s sake is terribly dangerous. Those who want to change leadership for the sole reason of “change” run the risk of destruction. Solomon warns us to stay away from people like that, for they have obviously given no thought to the consequences of their actions.

Fear God, Honor the King

Ultimately, the wise man will keep attempt to keep things in their proper perspective. God and the earthly kings are not on the same level, and if one is to be obeyed over the other, it should be God that is obeyed first and last. 1 Peter 2:17b reminds us to give due honor to the king (those in authority), but to “fear God.”

During political engagements there is the temptation to be disrespectful of those in authority, especially when we don’t agree with them. But let this proverb remind us that all authority is from God, and unless we have clear direction to stand against it, rebellion is affront not only to the king, but the King of Kings.

Be wise and tread carefully.


Full Rewards

Note: A special extra post today to cover a precious missed verse in our lineup.
~Daniel

Proverbs 22:4

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. (KJV)
The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. (ESV)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who was killed by the Nazis, based his ministry and teachings off of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters 5-7.

Why mention a man who was killed over 70 years earlier and his favorite teaching?

The most obvious understanding of today’s verse is that with humility and the fear of the Lord, you can become wealthy, be respected, and live well.

Pastor Bonhoeffer came from a wealthy, respected family, and he became a pastor, theologian, and college and seminary professor, willing to work with anyone from any walk of life. That sounds great, but we must remember that he spent the last two years of his life in prison and was hanged by the Third Reich.

The ultimate teaching he lived out and taught includes humility (5:1-12) and seeking God’s righteousness (6:19-33).

In fact, here are three passages to fully understand the rewards of Proverbs 22:4:

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Matthew 5:11-12

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

Let it be summarized:

For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.
Romans 14:18

We must seek the riches and honor of God, the Author and Giver of Life, above the riches and honor of this world. He will bless us more than we can ever understand. The greatest blessing is the reward of eternal life through Christ.

Great God, give us all that we need, and help us to seek your righteousness  approval above all else.


Justice

Proverbs 21:15

“It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.”
When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers. (NIV)

Following the Rules

It is very easy to not fear a judge if you are obeying all the rules and living a consistent lifestyle.

It should be common sense that to avoid trouble, do not break the rules! Be nice to people!

How hard can that really be? We even expect children to behave and treat others with respect!

God’s Justice

We have made it hard in our world. We see evil being committed and tend to live by the mantra of “an eye for an eye” (Exodus 21, Leviticus 24). We want to get even!

As a world, there is certainly an increase in people who want to live better. The new (and old) mantra is that we can be nice to each other.

The dangerous consequence of this increase in being nice to others is that many people think that doing enough good to others will get them into heaven.

However, according to God’s justice, we can never earn our way into heaven, because one blemish on our record is enough to keep us out. It took God coming to cleanse us of our sin for us to be seen as innocent and righteous. God helps us believe through the Holy Spirit that His Son, Jesus, lived a perfect life, died for the forgiveness of our sins, and rose back to life.

When Jesus returns to the world, He will enact His justice on this world. Without His forgiveness in our lives, we are still seen as “workers of iniquity” and evil. All that will be found in that day is terror and destruction.

With the Holy Spirit leading us in all righteousness, we will find joy in that Day!

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your justice. Thank You for Your grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Help us to live in Your justice and grace, that we may be found righteous in Your sight!