THE FEAR OF THE LORD
Proverbs is in a section of the Bible known as “Wisdom Literature.” The other books in this section are Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes and The Song Of Solomon. The focus of these books is to instruct men in the ways of the Lord and in His service and worship. The Book of Proverbs is a collection of teachings from Solomon to his son, showing the young man how to live his life in a manner that was pleasing to the Lord. I would say that we all need that kind of instruction, wouldn’t you?
If there is a key verse that unlocks the power and purpose of this great book, it would be the verse that we have just read. If we are to learn wisdom and knowledge, it must begin with the fear of the Lord. This is a subject that isn’t preached about much in our day, but it is still vital to the Christian faith. We need to know what the fear of the Lord is all about.
This is a very vital line of thought in the Book of Proverbs as it is mentioned roughly 18 times in its pages. In all, the phrase can be found 27 times in the Bible. If so much emphasis is placed on fearing the Lord, then I believe that we need to know what it means and how we can go about doing it. Therefore, I would like to take a few minutes and preach from this book on The Fear Of The Lord. I believe that the Lord wants to teach us what this matter of fearing Him is all about. He wants you and me to grow in our relationship with Him and in our knowledge of Him and the way knowledge begins is with the fear of the Lord.
A DEFINITION OF THE FEAR OF THE LORD
What does the phrase “the fear of the LORD” refer to? When we think of fear, we associate the word with terror. Webster’s Dictionary defines fear as “a feeling of anxiety and agitation produced by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, pain, etc.” For many, this would describe the feeling you get when you see a snake, go to the doctor or dentist, or when you find yourself in a time of extreme danger. It is the dread of the unknown. Surely, this is not the sensation the writer of Proverbs is referring to.
In our modern vernacular, the word fear, in the context in which it is used by Solomon, has been replaced with reverence, awe, great respect. What the writer of this book is saying is that we are to have a deep reverence and respect for the Lord. Literally, we are to be awed and humbled by His presence.
What, then, does it mean to fear the Lord? When we truly fear the Lord, we will recognize that He is the Creator and we are the creatures. He is the Master and we are the servants. He is the Father and we are the children. This attitude will manifest itself in our having a respect for God, His word and in our having a desire to do what He tells us to in His Bible. We can relate this kind of fear to that which a child has for his parents. If the right kind of fear is present, the child knows that his parents can hurt him if there is disobedience, but overriding that fear is the knowledge that disobedience hurts the parents and the child loves and respects his parents and does not want to hurt them. To put it simply, the fear of the Lord is a deep-seated reverence for God that causes men to want to please Him at all costs.
Genuine fear of the Lord is always seen in obedience to the Word of God, Pro. 8:13. People who do not walk in line with God’s Word do not fear the Lord, regardless of what they profess with their lips. Therefore, when we fear the Lord, there are elements of dread at what His wrath can do, but there is also much respect for Him and for His will that nothing else matters but doing that which pleases the Lord.)
Oswald Chambers, “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.”)
Would you describe your life as one lived in the fear of God? Does the dread of His wrath prompt you to holiness? Does respect for Him and for His will propel you toward obedience and godliness? We need to fear the Lord in our lives! This is not a blanket promise because any number of things can happen along the road of life that can take us out of here in an instant. However, generally speaking, those who live in the fear of the Lord are more likely to live to a good old age than those who live for the flesh and the world.
Approximately 60% of human illnesses can be traced directly or indirectly to fear, sorrow, envy, resentment, guilt, hatred, or any number of emotional stresses. Add to that the awful pain caused by alcohol (cirrhosis of the liver), tobacco, (emphysema, cancer, heart disease), and immorality, (venereal diseases and AIDS), we can see that a life lived in the fear of the Lord with obedience to His Word will result in a much healthier existence.
It Produces A Sense Of Security –
Prov 14:26, “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.”
When we are walking in the fear of the Lord, we can have confidence that God is on our side. Notice Romans 8:31, “What shall we then say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” The person who is walking in the fear of the Lord and is living by the Book will have fewer feelings of insecurity, abandonment, and fear. There will be far fewer times when salvation is doubted. The fear of the Lord produces a strong sense of security and a close fellowship with the Father. This is a blessed benefit!)
It Produces Life –
Prov 14:27, “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”
When we walk in the fear of the Lord, we are stronger spiritually than we could be otherwise. The fear of the Lord is like a fountain that continually springs up with spiritual vitality and strength. This enables the Christian to walk cleaner and closer thus avoiding the temptations and traps of the devil.)
It Makes All Of Life Better –
Prov 15:16, “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.”
This verse teaches us that it is better to have limited resources and be in the will of God than it is to have plenty and the trouble that comes along with it. The bottom line here is this when you are in the Lord’s will, and when you are walking in His fear, then your care is His responsibility, Matt. 6:25-33; Phil. 4:19. The life filled with “things” and riches is a trouble-filled life. The life lived in faith and in the fear of God is literally carefree.)
It Produces Satisfaction And Safety –
Prov 19:23, “The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.”
The person who lives in the fear of God will be a satisfied person. They will have one goal in life, pleasing the Lord, and it will have been met. Therefore, they will have all their needs met and they will be happy. When we must have other stuff to make us happy, we never will be! When we learn to be satisfied with the Lord and with the privilege of walking in His fear, we will be permanently satisfied. Nothing will matter but the smile of God and it will be upon our lives. Notice, this verse says that this kind of person will not be visited with evil. The person who walks in the genuine fear of the Lord need never fear going to Hell, he need never fear many of the things that beset the world around him. By his walk in the fear of the Lord, he brings the smile and the hedge of God into his life, Job 1:10.)
It Brings Great Blessings –
Prov 22:4, “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honor, and life.”
The person who chooses to walk in the fear of the Lord can rest assured that this decision will bring great blessings into his life. There will be spiritual riches beyond belief, (peace, joy, hope, security, the promises of God, the presence of God, etc.), there will be honor from the Lord, and there will be abundant life, John 10:10. The fear of the Lord produces the greatest possible life that any person can ever live. There is no better life upon this earth than a life lived in the will of the Lord!)
To put it very simply, walking in the fear of the Lord is going to have to be your individual decision. No one can make you do, no one can do it for you. The decision to live a life that is ordered around holy, reverential respect for God is a decision that you must make for yourself. Al I can do is tell you that deciding to walk in the fear of the Lord will produce a better life down here and will result in a life greatly blessed by the Lord. A decision to live outside the fear of the Lord, that is, living as you please and for yourself, will bring not the blessings of God, but His judgment to bear in your life. If you are saved, you will never be able to get away with sin, Rev. 3:19.
A life lived in the fear of the Lord will tell on you. If you fear Him, then you will want to honor him in everything. He will come first and His will be paramount in your life. It is easy to see those who walk in the fear of the Lord. His House is a priority, prayer and the Scriptures are priorities, everything God says in His Word takes priority and precedence over one’s personal will and desires. The Lord’s way becomes the only way.
By the same token, a life lived outside the fear of God is easy to pick out as well. The things of God will be secondary. Other matters will consistently be placed ahead of the Lord and His will and His work. This kind of life is usually filled with trouble and trial. There are more heartache and disaster in a life lived outside the fear of the Lord. This is not the way God intended the Christian life to be lived!
Do you understand the fear of the Lord any better? I trust that you do and that you have allowed the Holy Spirit the opportunity to speak to your heart and that now, you will do what the Lord has told you to do. If you know that you are not walking in the fear of the Lord as you should, then I invite you to come and deal with that need this evening. The Lord help us all to walk in reverential awe of Him, His greatness and His glory. May His people always be people who fear the Lord and prove it by living by His Word!