Tag Archives: Fear

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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Paranoid?

Proverbs 21:8

“The way of man is froward and strange: but as for the pure, his work is right.”
“The way of the guilty is crooked, but the conduct of the pure is upright.” ESV

Paranoid?

Have you ever known someone who was paranoid? People who suffer from paranoia exhibit irrational, unwarranted fears that others are out to get them. They act evasive, stealthy, and cautious. For example, some people wear aluminum caps on their heads in order to keep space aliens from reading their minds. Little do they realize space aliens have better things to do.

foil hatBut…one is only paranoid if his fears are unfounded. It’s not paranoia if someone’s really out to get you. Those who were afraid to use cell phones because the government might be listening aren’t considered paranoid anymore, are they?

Dodging

Some people may act a little paranoid, but they could have real reasons to fear. The one who is running from the law is always the one dodging and swerving, constantly on the lookout for blue lights and unmarked cars.

I used to know a guy who never drove on main roads. Every time he went anywhere he always took back roads, “short cuts”, and scenic routes. The reason was because his driver’s license had been revoked. He wanted to stay off the main roads because he knew the police were after him. He was not paranoid; he was guilty.

The man being described in this proverb has something to hide. He moves in “forward and strange” ways, not because he is crazy, but because he is trying to avoid being caught. His evasiveness is a dead giveaway.

In the Open

The guilty are always sneaking, shifting, and dodging in and out of arguments, discussions, responsibilities, and obligations. The pure of heart, however, are predictable and straight, never having to fear being found out. They know that God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12), so they have nothing to hide.

It is so much better to live in righteousness. Doing what is right allows one to take the main roads, the straight roads, and the visible-to-all roads.

“Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” – Daniel 12:10 ESV

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8 ESV

Walk in grace and truth and it won’t matter who’s looking over your shoulder.


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.


Paying For It

Proverbs 13:13

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”

Scorn and Respect

There is a danger in avoiding responsibility and not listening to a warning.

Are you aware that we are each responsible for all of our decisions? Are you aware that every choice has a consequence?

The NIV states this verse thusly: He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects command is rewarded.

If you are told not to do something, and you do it anyway, you will pay for it. If you are told to do something and you do not do it, you will pay for it. Whether it be having an upset stomach for eating too many sweets before dinner, losing a friend for breaking trust, going to jail or prison, or losing your life, being told not to do something and doing it will cost you. It may not happen immediately (Think about heartburn! It comes hours after you ate that chili-cheese hot dog with hot sauce, not immediately!)

However, if you show respect and heed what you have been told, you will be paid back for that trust. Whether that comes through enjoying a great meal, growing closer to a friend, staying out of trouble, or having great health and/or wealth, it will go well with you in life.

Sometimes the consequences come later … much later.

I like the King James Version for the implication that comes through.

God has sent us commands by which to live. We all failed at keeping them perfectly.

God sent His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah and the Word of God, to keep those commands perfectly and then suffer the ultimate price for our failure. In doing so, the commands are summed up in two simple commands:

  1. Love others!
  2. Love God … by loving others and believing that Jesus died that you may live.

If we “scorn instruction” and “despiseth the word” of God, we have the promise that we will be destroyed. While there is debate on what this means, there is a guarantee that it is not pleasant nor desirable (Revelation 20:14-15).

However, if we respect and fear God’s commands, we will be rewarded with eternal life and peace with God (Galatians 6:8).

Gracious God, forgive us for despising Your word and commands. Give us the grace and power to overcome our sinful desires and follow You. Help us to love others for Your glory.


“Everybody’s Got Problems”

Proverbs 13:8

“The ransom of a man’s life [are] his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.”

A Wise Dad

One of the things I loved about my father was his ability to find the lighter side to any subject. He had the uncanny ability to find the faintest silver lining around the biggest, darkest cloud. That might explain why growing up poor wasn’t so bad.

Here are a few good examples of how my dad would look at things…

  • When he saw a horribly ugly dog, he said, “Well, he’s got white teeth.”
  • When he (and I) got hurt at work, he would say, “You haven’t worked until you shed some blood.
  • When we had to move into a house that had no running water, electricity or telephone, and the sky could be seen between the boards on the walls, he would say something like, “Hey! It’s almost like camping out!”

And when it came to being poor, my dad knew how to keep things in perspective. He would remind us that being rich wasn’t all fun and games, but worry and stress, too. “The more money you have, the more you have to watch your back,” he would say. “But when you ain’t got noth’n, you ain’t got noth’n to steal.

A Wise Proverb

Today’s proverb is trying to tell us that wealth may not be a bad thing, but it does have some inherent risks. The more wealth you have, the more likely someone will want to take it. And, the more money one has, the more he has to spend to stay alive.

On the other hand, as the second part of the verse points out, those who have less are less likely to listen to an extortioner or be kidnapped for ransom. He is more likely to say, “Sorry, but you can’t get blood from a turnip.”

The ESV translates it this way, “The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but a poor man hears no threat.”

Be Content

If there is anything else my dad would say, it would be this: “Be content with what you have, cause everybody’s got their own problems.” Don’t be so upset if you’re not wealthy; life for the rich may be a bed of roses, but with roses come a lot of thorns. That’s why the poor can sleep easier.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11 KJV

“If you’ve got it, be thankful. If you ain’t got it, be glad.” 


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!


Better Fruit

Proverbs 8:18-19

“Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.”
A Tear

As I was reaching up to type these words, I wiped a tear from the table in front of me. The odd thing about it was that I had to stop and think what it was. Evidently, it had been a while since I last saw one drop.

I am sure there will be more. And really, that’s a good thing.

Tears are valuable. They teach what happiness and indulgence never can. They teach us that we are weak, that we break, and that we are incapable of fixing everything, if anything.

They tell us we’re dependent on God. And really, that’s a good thing.

A Better Fruit

To many, a fallen tear on one’s table is nothing more than a drop of water. However, to the Christian, the one who loves Wisdom, it is a glistening jewel-like seed, the fruit of which far surpasses the earnings of any other investment.

The “durable riches and righteousness” of wisdom are far better than the rarest currencies on Earth. What grows from the tears of a humble heart cannot be purchased with all the money in the world.

“Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.”

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. – Rev 21:4

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