Category Archives: Fear of the Lord

The Way of the LORD

Proverbs 10:29

“The way of the LORD is strength to the upright: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.”
The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless,
but destruction to evildoers.
(ESV)

A Bold Assertion About the Gospel

Many, if not most, of the proverbs are pithy statements making general observations about wise living. This one is a bit different. Proverbs 10:29 is less a general observation about wise living, and more a bold theological assertion about the gospel.

My interpretation follows the translation of the NASB, ESV, NIV and the study on the verse done by the German commentators Keil & Delitzsch, in preference to the KJV. The point of the proverb is to contrast the effect of “the way of the LORD” upon the lives of believers (the “blameless”) versus its effect upon unbelievers (“evildoers”).

The Way of the LORD

“The way of the LORD” in this proverb refers to the way of true religion, that way of faith and obedience which God has revealed to mankind. In New Testament terms, “the way of the LORD” refers to obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Many people want only enough of Jesus to make their lives easier, simpler, or more care-free. Will prayer help me get through my problems? Then I’ll pray. Is Jesus the Great Physician? Then I’ll seek Him whenever I’m sick. Is He the King with cattle on a thousand hills? Then I’ll call out to him when I’m broke. Many churches are filled with nominal Christians (that is, Christians in name only) who want the blessings of the way of the LORD, without being born again (John 3:3). That is to say, they have not undergone the fundamental, supernatural transformation of their being which God requires in the gospel. That inner transformation, without which there is no eternal life, happens only by truly embracing Jesus Christ as the most precious, desirable One in the universe – loved above all others, the wonder and marvel and joy of the heart.

What Effect Does “The Way of the LORD” Have On the Believer?

For the believer in Christ, life along that narrow way is said to have the certainty and security of a mountain stronghold. It is a life lived for Jesus and about Jesus and full of Jesus: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), writes the Apostle Paul, and, “the life I live in the body,” he writes again, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It is a bold, strong, vigorous life! No matter what the world may throw at us, we are safe in Jesus. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

What Effect Does “The Way of the LORD” Have Upon the Unbeliever?

This is the point of contrast made in the proverb which the KJV translation misses, but which is conveyed in the more careful rendering of the ESV above. The same gospel which is life and strength and refuge for the Christian, spells “destruction,” death and misery for the unbeliever. Here we stumble upon the hard edge of the gospel, where few preachers these days tread. Here we trip upon Christ the stumbling block. Embrace Christ by faith, and He is your life. Reject Him through persistence in hardness of heart and unbelief, and He spells your death. The gospel, which is “a stronghold to the blameless,” is also “destruction to evildoers.” The same gospel which proclaims that Christ came to save sinners, declares that Christ will return in blazing, purging, glorious brightness, and that unbelievers will cry out for the mountains to fall upon them to shield them from His glory. The same gospel which declares that He is the Christian’s Rock, declares that the Rock will crush all who reject Him.

The Gospel Aroma

The Apostle Paul picks up on the theme of Proverbs 10:29 in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. Basically, the idea there is that the gospel smells like a sweet fragrance—desirable and lovely—to those who are receiving new life in Jesus. But the same gospel smells like the stench of death to those who are rejecting Jesus. For them, the gospel has a terrible odor of decay, for it is the smell of death – their own death. They want nothing to do with Jesus Christ or his gospel.

How About You?

Do you love Jesus? Do you want Him more than anything else the world has to offer? Do you “savor the aroma” of Jesus? Are His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming all glorious truths which delight your soul? If so, be assured that He is and ever will be a stronghold for your soul, and that the yearnings in your heart will one day be fully satisfied in His glorious, loving presence. If not, then be warned: the narrow way to salvation will one day close, and Jesus will return with judgment blazing in His eyes.

Let us close with a prayer by A.W. Tozer (1897 – 1963).

“O God, I have tasted thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”

Sources

“A.W. Tozer Quotes.” A.W. Tozer Quotes (Author of The Pursuit of God). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Aug. 2012. <http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/1082290.A_W_Tozer&gt;.

Keil, Carl Friedrich, and Franz Delitzsch. “Commentary on Proverbs 10:29.” Commentary on the Old Testament. Vol. 6. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996. 164-65. Print.

Advertisements

A Prolonging Fear

Proverbs 10:27

“The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”

How Long?

The statements in this verse appear to be fairly straightforward. Fear the Lord and you will have a long life: choose to be wicked and you will probably die young. It is easy to challenge both statements. How many God-fearing men and women have died while relatively young, including those engaged in full-time ministry? Jim Elliot is a good example. Jim was martyred in 1956 while serving God on mission in Ecuador. He was twenty-eight years old. While Jim Elliot died young we can all think of wicked people who have lived well beyond the promised three score years and ten. Why?

Eternity

The Geneva Study Bible suggests that while some wicked people appear to live long lives, the time of their prosperity will be short. In terms of eternity this has to be true. When Jim Elliot died he had no reason to fear eternity. But while Jim Elliot’s time on earth seems to have been cut short, the legacy he left when he lost his earthly life made a difference to many for eternity.

Legacies

This verse challenges the reader to consider the legacy of his or her days on earth. What Jim Elliot achieved in twenty-eight years is insignificant when we consider the foundations he laid before he died. His death opened a door for many. Does that sound familiar? Jesus lived on Earth for thirty-three years, and only engaged in ministry for three years. But when Jesus died he opened the door to eternity for us all. We just have to choose to step through it. Once we do the challenge of our legacy then confronts us. What legacy will you leave?

Man’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. (Job 14:5 NIV)

Check Out:

End of the Spear – The legacy of Jim Elliot

Who Was This Man? – Ten Minutes of teaching from John Ortberg

Who Is This Man – One minute taster and other information

 


Simple Windbags

Proverbs 9:13-15 

“A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing. For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, To call passengers who go right on their ways:”

A Tale of Two Ladies

Chapter 9 of Proverbs can simply be split into two different sections with two different titles – Lady Wisdom & Lady Folly. The first twelve  verses are spent talking about Lady Wisdom, while the remain explain the ways of Lady Folly. Both of these ladies are laying out for us an invitation; either to follow the way of wisdom or to follow the way of folly.

Lady Folly

Solomon begins verse thirteen by saying that Lady Folly is “clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.” The ESV says this verse this way – “The woman folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing”. The English word fool or folly come from the Latin word follis, which means to “bellow”. Warren Weirsbe says that the word follis also indicates that a fool is a “windbag, full of air but lacking in substance”.

How many “Lady Follies” do you know? We all know these type of people and for the most part, no one want to be around them. They are loud and obnoxious. They think they know everything and have an opinion about everything, and their way – by far – is the best way and they don’t have a problem letting you know that it is the best way.

Solomon is warning us to be on the lookout for foolish people. Their way of foolishness will lead us to destruction and death.

Compare & Contrast

When we begin to compare and contrast Lady Wisdom to Lady Folly, we begin to see just how opposite they truly are. While we see in Proverbs 9:1 that Lady Wisdom has “built her house & set her table”, we see that in comparison Lady Folly is just sitting at the door of her house. She is lazy and doesn’t seem to care.

The Invitations

Chapter 9 is giving us two completely different pictures and invitations. While both women are calling out to those who are going “straight on their way”, we can clearly see by reading the remain parts of each section (Proverbs 9:1-12 / 13-18) the results that will follow.

Clearly the way of Lady Wisdom is most promising and will lead us to have our days multiplied, and years added to your life (Proverbs 9:11). Or we can follow the invitation set before us by Lady Folly, which will lead us to the “depths of Sheol”. Lady Wisdom has promised so much and she will be able to deliver on her promises, while Lady Folly has promised much but will not be able to deliver.

So the invitation is for you today! Which path are you going to follow? Are you going to follow after wisdom or folly? The choice should be obvious, even to the “simple and those lacking sense”!

The more we fear the Lord, the easier our decision becomes!

Lord, help me to fear you each and every day. The more love and admiration I have for you, the more I will want to follow the invitation of wisdom and not of folly. Lord, help me to live a life intentionally focused on You and You alone!


Holy Fear

Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

This has been said many times over and over on Proverbial Thought, but if we don’t fear the Lord we will never truly understand or gain true wisdom…Period – end of story!

We can search and study all we want but Proverbs 1:7 & 9:10 simply say that the “FEAR OF THE LORD is the beginning of wisdom”. Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10 are the bookends for Proverbs 1-9. They proclaim the theme that Solomon is working so desperately to get across to everyone – obtain wisdom and understanding.

FEAR

Simply put – to fear the Lord means to respect Him (God) so much that we obey His will and seek to honor His name. The word “fear” in the phrase “fear of the Lord” comes from the Hebrew word YIRAH, and it means “to be in awe of” (1 Kings 3:28), and “to have respect for” (Lev. 19:3).

The Benefits of Fearing the Lord

Not only should we fear the Lord in order to obey Him and honor His name, but when we do fear the Lord, the Bible tells us that there are extra benefits when we do:

  • Deuteronomy 6:2 – enjoy long life
  • Psalm 25:14 – The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
  • Psalm 34:7 – the angel of the LORD encamps around them & delivers them.
  • Psalm 103:13 – the LORD has compassion on those who fear him
  • Psalm 115:11 – the LORD— he is their help and shield
  • Psalm 128:1 – Blessed are all who fear the LORD
  • Psalm 147:11 – the LORD delights in those who fear him
  • Proverbs 10:27 – adds length to life
  • Proverbs 14:26 – He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.
  • Proverbs 16:6 – through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil
  • Proverbs 28:14 – Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD

Oswald Chambers once said,

“The remarkable thing about fearing God is that, when you fear God, you fear nothing else; whereas, if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.”

Solomon is again reiterating to us that we must obtain wisdom and knowledge in our lives and the first thing we must do it fear the Lord.

God dwells in light and holiness,
In splendor and in might;
And godly fear of His great power
Can help us do what’s right. —D. De Haan

Fear God, and you’ll have nothing else to fear.

Lord, help us to fear you enough in our lives that we do not want to do anything that displeases you. Help us to live our lives in such a way that we will stand in awe and honor your name each and every day. Lord, may our fear for you drive us to love you more and devote our whole heart and lives to You!


Hating Evil, Not People

Proverbs 8:13

“The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”

 God Hates

This is something most Christians, and most non-Christians, do not like to discuss … at least in the Western culture.

This is not the hatred people like those from Westboro Baptist Church preach. They preach that God wants to send people to Hell, that God hates you because of your choices.

One of my most favorite definitions of evil is “the absence of God.” Therefore, God hates those things that separates God from us.

Pride

You can take pride in something, in that you take joy in something (something most people mean). The pride that is evil is when it elevates us or something to the place of God.

This is the problem with Gay Pride parades. This is the problem with much of the sports world. This is the problem with Hollywood. This is the problem with some patriotism (not just for the USA. The Nazi’s and Russians proved during the 20th Century what patriotism gone crazy can do).

Pride elevates and celebrates everything more than it should be, especially if it is something that should not be celebrated. The first thing that comes to mind is being a “player”, or simply being sexually promiscuous. Our society has done an amazing job of promoting sex.

Arrogance

The by-product of pride is arrogance. Why does God hate arrogance?

Arrogance says “I am better than you! I can do this better than everyone! I know what I am doing!”

This might be true, but this is like saying “I am better, and you are worthless.”

Many Christians throughout the centuries have been guilty of this, as well.

These are the Christians who look down on non-Christians for being impure and sinful (Luke 18:9-14).

These are the Christians who have stood outside of abortion clinics calling women sluts and sinners.

These are the Christians who say they believe the only right way to believe.

The Evil Way, The Froward

It is easy to see that it can be quite easy to stray.

The evil way is any way that is against or not with God.

A froward mouth does not have to use “four-letter words”, but can be the one who promotes evil, praises the self, or blasphemes God.

Blasphemy of God includes cursing and swearing, sure; but it also includes denigrating others, false teachings, or even bad teachings.

All of these God hates.

But God never hates you. Period.

Dear Lord, teach us to hate what You hate. Teach us to love all people regardless of their actions and words. Strengthen us to follow the right path – Your path.


God’s Not Safe

Proverbs 6:16

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:”

He’s Not Safe

So many people have the impression that God is nothing but love, love, love. Thinking all He cares about is their happiness and well-being, they forget that angels surround His throne crying “holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” (Rev. 4:9).

In the “seeker-friendly” community of churches, many focus on a God who is “for us,” while avoiding any mention of a God who hates sin. They treat Him like a rich grandfather who winks at their indiscretions. They treat Him like a tame pet. But He’s not tame. And He’s not safe.

When I read the above verse I was reminded of a conversation in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. Susan, Lucy, and Peter were talking to Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan:

“Is he – quite safe? I shall be nervous about meeting a lion [said Susan]”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

A “safe” God is one who doesn’t care what you do, as long as you love Him and worship Him, but a Holy God hates sin. And He is nothing to trifle with.

Abominations

In the next few “thoughts” we will be looking at verses 17 through 19 and the seven things God hates – yes, hates. It might be hard for some to contemplate, but even though God is love (1 Jn. 4:8), He is righteous, and He tests the hearts of men (Ps. 7:9).

As we look at these things, remember that we are all guilty of them. If you don’t think so, then you’re deceiving yourself (1 Jn. 1:8). All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and fallen short of God’s righteous standards. He hates our sins, and that will never change (Mal. 3:6).

Salvation Not a License

It might be tempting to leap right to the good part – the Gospel. John 3:16 says that Jesus came to die for our sins and make things right between God and us (Col. 1:20). But hold on! That doesn’t change God’s view of sin. He still hates it.

God is love, but the Bible also says that a man who loves God will keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15; 15:10). Christ paid our sin debt on a cruel cross, and those who are truly His will avoid sin. What God hates, the Christian should hate.

“Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” – Hosea 14:9 NIV

A Prayer

Lord God, thank you for loving me. Thank you for the gift of forgiveness. But help me to remember Who you are – King. Help me to hate the things you hate, and love the things you love. 


Fortress Wisdom

Proverbs 4:8-9

“Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.”

Building Wisdom

The defense of many iron-age villages in the UK relied on huge mounds of soil being piled up to encircle a settlement and create a primitive fort. There is one of these ancient earthworks close to where I live. It is situated on the highest point for several miles and must have taken a herculean effort to build. The scale of the earthworks is not immediately evident when walking on its remains, and much is left to the imagination. What is not in doubt is that the earthworks were essential to the safety of those who lived inside. Why else would a group of Ancient Britons have invested so much in the construction of such a formidable barrier?

The word ‘exalt’ at the beginning of verse eight could be applied to the construction of an iron-age fort. Wisdom needs to be built up, and constructed into a formidable barrier to defend against everything that life and Satan have to throw at us. It is useful to remember that iron age forts were not built overnight. Solomon may have been blessed with a gift of wisdom by God, but the process of building wisdom began with the early example and teaching of his parents  (Proverbial Thought – Proverbs 4:1-2 and Proverbs 4 3-4).

Embracing Wisdom

It is not enough to embark on a building project alone. The builders of the earthworks could not spend their entire lives inside never facing the dangers outside. And how good a defense would the earthworks have been if lookouts were never posted to provide warning of possible intruders?

The reason that Solomon tells us we need to embrace wisdom is because he knew that there would be times when however good and strong the earthworks of wisdom around us may be, we still have to venture out, sometimes into the unknown. Solomon is also reminding us in these verses that we need to remain alert. Why? Because danger is all around. Stand on top of the earthworks and take a good look outside:

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NASB)

The journey is not over yet, but look out from the ramparts and you will see that the reward for exercising wisdom is in view.