The Fear of the Lord
In this series we’ve explored the matter of wisdom in the book of Proverbs. In the first week we saw what wisdom is:
Wisdom = Understanding that results in good judgment, such that we please God, do right by our fellow man, and flourish in our own lives.
It is an understanding of what is good, true, beautiful and right that allows us to live in ways that please God, do right by our fellow man, and flourish in our own lives. Those who seek it and walk in it live well. Those who reject it displease God, hurt other people, and bring destruction on themselves.
Today we wrap our series up by considering the wisdom found in the fear of the Lord.
Why Fear? For some modern readers, the notion of fearing God is problematic as God is normally portrayed in only benevolent terms. This portrayal is not wrong, but it is incomplete. Yes God love us, but God is also holy, powerful, all-knowing, and all-wise.
What is meant by fear? This is not paralytic fear that keeps us isolated and cut off from God. It is deep reverence and acknowledgment of God is all aspects of life such that we seek to please Him above all else.
Ecclesiastes 12:13. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.”
The fear of the Lord is the basis of understanding and wisdom.
Throughout the Proverbs Solomon tells us that fearing God is the basis for understanding Him and living well. Those who are haughty and puffed up will never properly understand God, and as such, they will not commune with and live as they are intended to live. Notice what the Proverbs say:
- Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The Proverbs say here that fearing God is the beginning of wisdom. In other words, one cannot obtain wisdom without this posture of heart and mind.
- Proverbs 2:4-5: “If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”
Notice here that fearing God enables us to know God.
- Proverbs 15:33: “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility.”
Again, notice here that fearing God allows us to obtain instruction. To receive it, we must be humble.
- Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Knowledge of the Holy One brings understanding broadly.
- Matthew 13:10-15. “And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them,“Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.”
The fear of the Lord causes us to run from Evil.
Throughout the Proverbs Solomon shows us that fearing God keeps us from evil. When we are primarily concerned with what God thinks and with pleasing Him, we turn away from evil. Consider what the Proverbs say:
- Proverbs 16:6: “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.”
The point is simple here. When we fear God we turn from evil.
- Proverbs 23:17: “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day.”
Instead of respecting and envying what the world promotes and cherishes, we are instructed here to be zealous in fearing God.
- Proverbs 8:13: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.”
Notice hear that fearing God is presented as being the opposite of pride, arrogance, and evil. In other words, if we fear God we purge those dispositions from our lives.
The fear of the Lord brings health and well-being to our lives.
One of the strongest point Solomon makes on the subject of fearing God is that doing so brings reward and blessing in this life. Notice the various things that he says:
- Proverbs 3:7-8: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”
Here we are told that fearing God leads to health for the flesh and strength for the bones.
- Proverbs 10:27: “The fear of the Lord prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.”
Notice here that fearing God prolongs days. Honoring God is pleasing to Him, but also for our good.
- Proverbs 14:26: “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.”
Here we see that fearing God allows us to live with His blessings such that it overflows to our children.
- Proverbs 14:27 “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
Fearing God keeps us from the snares of death.
- Proverbs 22:4: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.”
Again we see the relationship humility and the fear of the Lord. And how we see that honor and life are associated with them.
Failing to fear God leads to isolation from God.
By contrast to the promise of blessing fi we fear the Lord, we are also severely warned about failing to fear God. We are told that for those that do not fear God are isolated from Him. Notice what Solomon says:
- Proverbs 1:25-29: “Because you disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, when your terror comes like a storm, and your destruction comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.”
Here God promises to ignore the cries of those who have hates knowledge and did not choose to fear God.
- Deuteronomy 30:15-18: “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.”
- Are you postured in such a way that God might draw near to you, speak to your heart, and give you wisdom?
- Do you run from evil because you fear God?
- Do you believe that there is always a choice between life and death?