Category Archives: Fear of the Lord

THINK

Proverbs 16:21-22

The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning. Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly.

Think before you speakWise Words (v. 21)

Are you a person who thinks about every word that comes out of your mouth or do you just talk and think later about what you said?

I had a professor in college that, when asked a question, he would take several minutes to think about his words and then proceed to answer the question.

This drove me crazy! Even if he knew the answer right off the top of his head – he still thought about every word he said. His reasoning for choosing his words correctly is that he wanted to make sure the words he used explained the question in the best way possible.

My professor was wiser than I thought!

Get Understanding

So what exactly is understanding? Understanding is the ability to comprehend or grasp the true nature of something. It is the correct and proper analysis of a dilemma, event, or situation that sees all the angles and consequences.

God wants us to be people of understanding but true understanding can only come from God. Proverbs 2:6 says:

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

According to our verse, those who have understanding are like a wellspring or a fountain of life.

Lord, I pray that each and every day we would seek after YOU and your wisdom. I pray that you would show us how to use our speech for good and not to hurt others around us. Keep us in your care and help us to strive to understand you more and more.


Keep Your Fingers to Yourself

Proverbs 16:14

“The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.”

When I first read this verse I pictured an angry king who sent out soldiers to execute judgment on his enemies. Then, just a few days later, I learned of a more modern example of an angry king – Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat. His kingdom? The Miami-Dade courtroom in Florida.

February 4, 2013

It was all caught on camera. The cheerful, giddy, 18-year old Penelope Soto stood facing a camera, while Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat sat in the courtroom hearing her case. Soto was being sentenced for illegal possession of Xanax.

The judge seemed nice enough, trying to be patient Soto, who evidently didn’t take the whole thing too seriously. Then, when the judge set the girl’s bail at $5,000, she turned around and said in a casual, disrespectful way, “Adios!

Judge Rodriguez-Chomat said, “Come back…come back.” This time, irked at her flippant demeanor, he raised Soto’s bail to $10,000. That got her attention, too, and so this time when she walked away she held up her middle finger to the camera for the judge to see.

Come back! Come back!” said the judge. This time, after few words, he sentenced the once-perky illicit drug user to 30 days in jail. She quit laughing.

Don’t be a Fool

It’s really not that complicated. When one stands before one who has the ability to exercise judgment, it’s not very wise to air out one’s middle finger.

Penelope Soto could have gotten off with just a slap on the wrist. She seemed sweet enough, and the judge seemed patient, to a degree. But it was when she disrespected his authority that she crossed a serious line. That is when she experienced the “wrath of the king.”

Why is it that some people do that? Everything could be going just fine, then they choose to disrespect authority. Don’t they realize the foolishness of their actions? Why don’t they show a little wisdom and keep the “king” in a good mood?

They Don’t Respect God

The real reason most people have a problem with authority and end up ticking off kings is that they have no respect for God. If they did respect Him, they would respect His “minister.”

In Romans thirteen we read that we should “be subject to higher powers” (13:1). Anyone who resists, or rebels against authority is in danger of rebelling against God, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”

Paul also said that if one does good, he should have no reason to fear authority. However, when we rebel, or show our middle fingers, we must remember if we do wrong, “be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing” (13:4 NIV).

 


Responsibility of Leadership

Proverbs 16:10

“A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment.”

Oracle of God

If there was ever a puzzling verse of scripture, this could be it. At first glance it seems to suggest that a king is not only infallible in judgment, but the very words from his lips are divine. Is this teaching the “divine right of kings”?

Let’s look at the way two other translations treat this verse.

“An oracle is on the lips of a king; his mouth does not sin in judgment.” – Proverbs 16:10 ESV

“God’s verdict is on the lips of a king; his mouth should not give an unfair judgment. ” – Proverbs 16:10 CSB

I think we can derive two things from the comparative reading: 1) the king is not a god, but speaks as a mouthpiece for God; 2) if the words are from God, then they are true and fair.

But that still poses a problem, doesn’t it? Are all kings the mouthpieces of God? Are all kings incapable of speaking lies, untruths, or making poor judgments?

Of course not! As the late Matthew Henry said in his commentary on this verse:

We wish this were always true as a proposition, and we ought to make it our prayer for kings, and all in authority, that a divine sentence may be in their lips, both in giving orders, that they may do that in wisdom, and in giving sentence, that they may do that in equity, both which are included in judgment, and that in neither their mouth may transgress, 1 Tim. 2:1. But it is often otherwise; and therefore, 1. it may be read as a precept to the kings and judges of the earth to be wise and instructed.*

Accountable to God

In Romans 13:1-5 we read rulers are “ministers” of God put in place to “execute wrath on him that doeth evil” (verse 4). God has even used unbelievers, even ungodly kings and authorities, to bring about the punishment of evildoers and protect His people. That means that the king does not act as the ultimate authority, but as a servant to the true King.

There are those who may have considered the words of a king to be the final authority, as final as the words of God. However, the only words that are final and unchangeable are the words from God, and the king, at best, is only a mouthpiece, an oracle, charged with speaking wisdom from above.

Leadership at all levels, from kings to presidents, from policemen to senators, should keep in mind that they will one day stand before the throne of the King of Kings and give an account.

As a pastor, one charged with faithfully expounding the Word of God, that terrifies me even more. 

 

 

*Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 990.


Mercy and Fear

Proverbs 16:6

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.”
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” (NKJV)

“He Could Break Me”

When I was young I had a healthy fear of my father. Even when I was a teenager, he was half again my size and could break me in two. The last thing I would have ever wanted was for my dad to strike me in anger, or worse, as an enemy. Thankfully, he loved me, especially when he “spared not the rod.”

Yes, my dad knew how to discipline in the old-fashioned way. He did not believe in “time outs.” Never once did he remind me to “make right choices.” If I made a wrong choice I found out about it real quick.

daddyBut the thing that I was most afraid of was not being punished by my dad for doing something stupid, it was breaking his heart. The worst punishment I could ever receive was to see a disappointed look in his eyes. I wanted him to be proud of me. I was more afraid of seeing a tear than getting whacked in the rear.

You see, my dad was a godly man…a simple man…a humble man…a very hard-working man. He worked multiple jobs, once even giving me his pay so that I could have work. He never raised his voice, but he could preach with authority. He was a true pastor, a faithful husband, and a friend to all. He did a lot for me that I will never know.

Proper Motivation

In today’s proverb Solomon speaks of mercy and forgiveness, but then he ends with “fear” being the motivation for correct behavior. What should be noted is that “fear” isn’t the kind of emotion that causes one to run and hide, but it is a profound sense of respect.

When we think of God, we should remember how merciful he has been to us. We should contemplate his goodness and grace. We should remember that He did not have to forgive us, but would have been completely justified to cast us into a burning hell forever, had it not been for Christ. When we remember these things we should fear and “depart from evil.”

But why should we depart from evil? Is it because of a fear that He will destroy us? No, for we are forgiven, if we have been covered in the righteousness of Jesus. We should have a profound respect for what God has done for us, not to us, and that fear should cause us to depart from evil.


Are You Afraid?

Proverbs 15:33

“The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom,
    and humility comes before honor.”

What is Fear?

We see lots of mention of fear in the Old Testament. It’s a word that doesn’t fit well with our modern mindset, and so many people who speak about these verses reduce fear to something else. They tell us it is more like awe or respect. Yet even these words have been diluted by our present culture.

When I was a child and did something wrong, I feared the consequences, I feared my parents and the discipline they would bring, the telling off I would receive. Today children seem to fear very few things, and the ideas of respect and awe are replaced by individualism.

Real Fear

But what if fear means fear? What if there is reason to fear God, and this reason makes the grace He shows us all the more amazing?

In the Old Testament the Israelites were afraid to approach the mountain that God met Moses on, Jacob comments on how he came face to face with God and lived.  Maybe fear is the beginning of all wisdom because when we realize that God could do anything He wants at any time, He could make our lives miserable and full of suffering, He could punish us for our sins.

And yet he doesn’t.

Instead He pours grace upon us, and in Jesus shows us how humility comes before honor.


Can You Hear Me Now?

Proverbs 15:29

The Lord is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

220px-George_MullerHis name is one that many people may not know. It sounds like any other name and if it was said aloud, most would scratch their heads and wander who is this gentleman. His name was plain, but to a group of children that depended on him every day for their well-being, he was a saint. His name was George Muller.

George Muller was a christian evangelist and director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England. It is said that during his time as director, that more than 10,000 children were cared for and loved.

More importantly, George Muller was a man that loved the Lord. No, I am not saying that George Muller was a religious man, I am saying that he had a personal relationship with God.

Our verse today talks about the “prayer of the righteous”. I can assure you that the Lord heard the prayers of George Muller. Am I saying that George Muller was perfect? Far from it, but I know by his fruits that he loved the Lord with all his heart and it showed.

James 5:16b says these very powerful words, “…the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Mr. Muller never once asked for donations from the public to help support the orphanage. He always prayed and depended on God to supply the need. On one occasion, when there was no food in the orphanage at all, Muller had the children come to the tables for breakfast and sit down and pray. At the end of the prayer, a baker and a milkman showed up at the front door with both bread and milk to meet the need.

The Lord heard the prayers of George Muller and He can also hear the prayers that comes from you and me, but we must have the correct connection.

Several years back, Verizon Wireless had a commercial that showed a guy walking around everywhere asking the question, “Can you hear me  now?” The point of the commercial was to show the consumer that Verizon’s coverage was strong and that the connection between two phones was always going to be there and that both parties would be heard.

God has laid out for us some requirements in order for Him to hear our prayers – WE MUST BE RIGHTEOUS! Does this mean that we have to be perfect, no, but we must strive to fear Him and be faithful to Him in everything we do.

Do you want God to hear your prayers? Then strive to be a righteous person – not religious, but righteous!

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm  145:18,19).


Sacri-nice

Proverbs 15:8

“The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked,
    but the prayer of the upright pleases him.”

What God Wants…

God hates the sacrifice of the wicked, but he isn’t to keen on the sacrifice of the righteous either, especially when it becomes the be all and end all. Countless times in the Bible God makes the point that He isn’t interested in sacrifices, the idea of coming and making a payment for your transgressions. No, what He is interested in is your behavior, how you will respond to His grace and forgiveness in your own life, and how that will inspire you to treat others.

Inspired by?

In Matthew 18 we see the story of a servant who owes his master a huge amount of money. He’s panicking, how will he pay this back? What will happen to his family? He goes before the master and begs for more time, and incredibly the master let’s him off. Scot free. Let’s not miss the huge significance of this – this is truly incredible and as counter cultural now as it was then.

I sometimes watch Undercover Boss, now I am not naive I know it’s probably scripted, but I can’t help but be moved when some big CEO enters the life of a low level employee, sees their struggles and their debt, and does something about it. What we never see is how this affects the person in question. They seem very grateful in the moment, but we never see the lasting change.

Not so with this servant. The Bible tells us that straight away he went looking for another servant who owed him a considerably smaller amount. We’d be entitled to think that he had in mind to set this servant free from his debt, to share the grace he had experienced. But in fact all he wants is the money owed to him. How sad that this servant was even more enslaved to money than he originally thought.

Washing feet

At the opposite end of the spectrum we find Jesus. Jesus the entirety of God squeezed into man form, denying His deity to inspire humanity, relying fully on the Father to further the future of the broken. We all know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, we all know this should blow our tiny minds, but I’ll be honest it was just one of those things I accepted, until I reread the account and came to these verses in John 13:3-5 ‘Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.’ 

Why did Jesus do this? BECAUSE He knew who he was. Because He wanted to show the world a powerful image of what happens when we take the lowest place.

Prayer

All very good and well you may say but how’s this connected to the proverb? Prayer changes everything. If you want to be a person who shares grace rather than shrugs grace then you need to start on your knees.