This week we continue into our study on the subject of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Last week we saw how in the Book of Proverbs Solomon often uses the metaphor of a person (a woman) to depict wisdom speaking to us.
In many of the Proverbs God’s divine wisdom is personified as a woman and she is depicted as being very industrious and having wonderful qualities. Wisdom is personified as a woman and speaks in the first person of how important it is to seek wisdom and is crying out to mankind to forsake their foolishness. For all those who will hearken to her, they will be rewarded with incredible blessings.
She teaches the way that leads to God and eternal life in the public square:
Proverbs 1:20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 1:21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
She pours out her spirit to those who turn at her rebuke and she will make known the secrets of life to them.
Proverbs 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
In Proverbs 8 Solomon further describes in glowing terms what wisdom is and what she does. He declares that she wisdom was possessed by God before anything was made, and that she was God’s helper and was present when God created the world and everything in it.
Proverbs 8:20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:
8:21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.
8:22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
8:23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
8:24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
8:25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
8:26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
8:27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
8:28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
8:30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
8:31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
8:32 Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
8:33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
8:34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
8:35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.
8:36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
Continuing into the next chapter Wisdom builds a palace and spreads out a feast for all who will come and be nourished by what she has to offer. Last week we saw that in Proverbs 9 Solomon uses an analogy of a woman who has built for herself a house, and for that house she has carved out seven pillars. From the definition of what pillars are and what they do we know that they are the columns that support the whole house and stand rock solid on the foundation of that house.
Proverbs 9:1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn [carved] out her seven pillars:
Solomon depicts godly wisdom as a house with seven pillars standing on the sure and solid rock foundation of TRUTH (God’s truth and His Law). It is Christ our Savior and the whole Word of God which are the Foundation of the house. This is an analogy that when we build our spiritual house we must build upon the sure foundation which is Christ and all of His Word (Isaiah 28:16, Matthew 4:4, Matthew 5 1 Corinthians 3:11, Hebrews 11:10). The Seven Pillars of Wisdom must stand firmly on EVERY WORD of God which is the foundation, and the pillars stand on THAT foundation otherwise they are not wisdom.
Solomon uses this vivid illustration to teach us that there are certain essential qualities of wisdom that we must incorporate into our character if we want lives that reflect God’s wisdom. This is a metaphor that those called of God must make the seven pillars of wisdom the pillars in their own lives and live by them. In Proverbs 8:12-14 we discover what the seven pillars are:
Proverbs 8:12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions [discretion]. 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. [The [reverent] fear and worshipful awe of the Lord includes the hatred of evil and the perverted mouth, also pride and arrogance] 8:14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom [sound judgement]: I am understanding; I have strength.
From these verses we see that the woman called “Wisdom” dwells [resides] with certain things, and these things are part of her house for they are the permanent columns that support the house. These seven also have been given names; they too are named for what they are and for what they do. The names of the seven distinct pillars that work as a team to support Wisdom’s house are:
(2) Knowledge of witty inventions [i.e. discretion]
(3) Fear of the Lord
(5) Sound Wisdom
(7) Power and Strength
This week we will look at the pillar which is called “The Fear of the Lord”. It is placed third in the verses that list the Seven Pillars of Wisdom but we will study this aspect of wisdom first for the Fear of the Lord is foundational to all others, for God’s wisdom STARTS with the fear of God.
The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom
In Proverbs 9:2-5 the one speaking (Wisdom) sends out an invitation for all those who will, to come and partake of her feast of the succulent food and fine wine that she has laid out, symbolic of the Bread of Life and the Living Waters that God freely offers to all who seek Him.
Proverbs 9:2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. 9:3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, 9:4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, 9:5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. 9:6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
After wisdom’s invitation to come and take of her food and wine, Solomon then tells us that wisdom starts with the fear of the Lord. Solomon is instructing us that if we want understanding and knowledge of the holy things we must learn to fear God first, for it is only then that we can we begin the process of obtaining wisdom and right knowledge.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Solomon instructs us that this character quality of wisdom is a vital key to gain wisdom. This principle is spoken of throughout the Bible and is displayed in the character of all those God used whose stories are written for us as examples as to how we should be living our lives.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom; one which teaches us how to live wisely by learning to discern between wise and foolish choices; throughout the Book we are admonished to use wisdom to choose what is good and to reject what is wickedness and foolishness. He further states that fools despise wisdom.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
In his verse Solomon sets the theme of what the whole Book of Proverbs is about. Here he introduces the concept that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge for to fear God is the first step to learning the whole wisdom of God.
Wisdom is founded in the truth of who God really is, and by wisdom we come to know the mind of God. In order to have the mind of God (to think as He thinks) and then come to a deep understanding of the mysteries of His Kingdom we need to have the fear of God first. The fear of God unlocks the door to knowing Him and then becoming like Him made into His glorious image.
To fear God is at the very heart of obtaining wisdom for if we have no fear of Him we will do whatever we want to do with impunity or whatever comes naturally with no fear of repercussion at all.
If we go back to Proverbs 8:13 which tells us about “the fear of the Lord”, we are given a definition of what that kind of fear looks like. It is to HATE evil, pride, arrogance, every evil way and the perverse mouth (the speaking of evil/vile words). To fear God is to hate sin and every evil way and that of course is wisdom!
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.
Since Adam and Eve, all of their descendants have been born into a world in which the fear of the Lord is not emphasized and neither is it taught. Even those who claim to be Christians and say that their religion is based on the Bible do not do what is written in the Bible. They may read it, quote it, and live according to some tenets of God’s law to some degree, but most people do not FEAR to disobey God’s clearly spelled-out commandments and statutes; and they justify their rebellion against Him with their own human reasoning.
In his letter to the brethren living in Rome, the apostle Paul gives a list of the ways of men and concludes this passage indicating that they do all of these things because they have no fear of God.
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 3:13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 3:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 3:15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 3:16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 3:17 And the way of peace have they not known: 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
What Does it Mean to Fear God?
The word “fear” in Proverbs 9:10 is from the Hebrew word yirah (Strong’s #3374) and it means: dreadful, exceedingly, fearfulness; Feminine of yare‘; fear (also used as infinitive); morally, reverence — X dreadful, X exceedingly, fear(-fulness). (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
This word comes from the Hebrew word yare (Strong’s #3372) which means: affright, be make afraid, dreadful, put in fearful reverence, terrible act, A primitive root; to fear; morally, to revere; caus. To frighten — affright, be (make) afraid, dread(-ful), (put in) fear(-ful, -fully, -ing), (be had in) reverence(-end), X see, terrible (act, -ness, thing). (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
According to these definitions, the fear of the Lord includes an attitude of respect, and an attitude of awe and admiration toward Him. It is also an attitude of submission and of love but it is also defined as having a dread and exceeding fear of something.
Fear, according to the English dictionary, is a strong distressing emotion caused by the anticipation of, impending danger, or the awareness of danger. Its synonyms are foreboding, apprehension, consternation, dismay, dread, fright, alarm, panic, terror, or trepidation. But it can also imply awe, respect, reverence, esteem, veneration. (Dictionary.com)
The Greek word that is translated “fear” is phobos (phobia) (Strong’s #5401). We are all familiar with the word “phobia” which means to have inordinate fear of certain things such as a fear of closed tight spaces (claustrophobia), or a fear of open places (agoraphobia), etc.
From these definitions of “fear” the phrase “the fear of the Lord” presents us with a paradox. We normally instinctively want to run away from the things which we fear. A person with any kind of phobia tends to avoid those things which he or she has a phobia toward. And so we have a tendency to run from the things which we fear. But that is not the kind of fear we are to have of God, but rather our fear of Him causes us to run to Him and seek shelter in His truth and in His righteousness.
Proverbs teaches us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Though we fear God it is the kind of fear that makes us want to cling to Him all the more. To fear God is to understand that He is real and that He is a Mighty and a Powerful Being who controls the whole Universe; really knowing these things about Him moves us to have a proper awe of Him and we fear to disobey Him. If we fear to disobey Him we will want to do all that He says to do; we will want to please Him just as a child wants to please his father who he knows loves him deeply and only wants what is good for the child. The child also knows that there are consequences if he disobeys and rewards for obedience.
Deuteronomy 6:1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: 6:2 That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 6:3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
Fearing God is a choice. When we are faced with decisions that we have to make we are forced to choose; “Shall I do such and such and go the way of God’s commandments?” or we may be tempted to go the other way because we fear that we may upset someone, lose a job, or lose certain perks or advantages. At that point we must make a choice to either fear to disobey or disappoint God; or to fulfill our own lusts and seek our own gain; or even out of fear of men and what they may do to us.
The fear of God will prompt us or even compel us to go in the direction of righteousness and not of evil because in our heart we have come to hate evil, pride and arrogance.
We must understand that the fear of God is given to us as a wonderful gift which motivates us to choose the way of God rather than the way of sin. This is what wisdom is about for the wisdom that comes from God points us toward the direction of the very Creator who holds the issues of life in His hands! The wisdom of God (and the fear of Him) prompts us to choose His righteousness which is the way to life and not death!
It is worth studying and meditating upon the whole chapter of Proverbs 4 for it describes how choosing to have the fear of the Lord leads to all kinds of blessings and protection; but if we go in the path of the wicked we will suffer great harm.
Solomon is speaking in this chapter to his children but it is also an analogy of God the Father giving wise advice to His spiritual children. God beseeches His called out children to hate evil and to stay away from all forms of wickedness; to choose to attend to His words which are wisdom for they are life to all who hold fast to them.
Proverbs 4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.
4:2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.
4:3 For I was my father’s son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.
4:4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.
4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.
4:6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.
4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
4:8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.
4:9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.
4:10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.
4:11 I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths.
4:12 When thou goest, thy steps shall not be straitened; and when thou runnest, thou shalt not stumble.
4:13 Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life.
4:14 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.
4:15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
4:16 For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence.
4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
4:19 The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.
4:20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.
4:21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.
4:22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.
4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
4:24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.
4:25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.
4:26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.
4:27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts for the heart (our inner being) is the seat of our thoughts, words, and actions, therefore it is the heart that determines the direction of one’s life. The fear of the Lord and letting it guide all of our thoughts, words, and actions into the ways of God will keep us safe in life, and in the end it will deliver us from the snares of death [eternal death].
We who are called to be God’s children have an astounding opportunity to become a part of the Family of God and to live for all eternity in His Kingdom. The most horrible thing that I can think of ever happening to a person is to blow off this opportunity, or to take it lightly and then lose out: to be thrown into the lake of fire and be blotted out forever.
This is part of the definition of what it is to fear God, we fear being outside His will and in allowing any kind of sin to separate us from Him. But if we love Him and love all that He is about, and if we guard ourselves from evil we do not have to tremble in fear all of our days, for in fact we find security and peace in abiding in His will and in His presence.
In the many religious circles, including in most the COG’s today, the concept of what it means to truly fear God has been minimized, for many of us have been taught to mostly focus on the fact that we are to reverence (awe and respect) God (which we most certainly should do) but to FEAR God is much more than just reverence, for the word “fear” also includes the other dimensions to it: such as fright, dread, and terror.
Not understanding the whole definition of what it means to fear God can cause people to adopt a soft concept of God, not totally acknowledging His supreme sovereign power and authority. To not include the sense of dread and fright when we think of fearing Him can lead us to a causal attitude toward God and in the keeping of His commandments and holding fast to sound doctrine.
God’s people need to have the total picture of what it means to worship and fear a Great, Powerful, and Holy God so that we never take Him for granted. To really fear God, meaning to have dread and terror of Him, is a vital aspect of all that is encompassed by what it means to have the fear of the Lord.
If any of us have observed mainstream Christian music concerts or worship services that have a Pentecostal Movement or Protestant bent, we see the crowds worshiping, lifting hands, tears streaming down their faces, swaying with the music, but we know that these people do not teach and practice the whole Word of God. They think that they are worshiping God (with awe and reverence) by behaving in this manner and that showing love for God is all about emotional displays.
This type of worship and “fear of God” exhibiting false reverence while neglecting to do what God says to do, is a false type of fear; they do not really fear God nor do they have respect for Him; for if they did they would want keep His commandments and all that He says to do in His Word.
These people do not really respect what God is all about, that He is a God of Righteousness and Holiness with Might and Great Power who holds the fate of our future, (whether we die or live eternally) in the palm of His hand. He is the Awesome God who says that those who claim to be His followers must walk as He walks and seek the same kind of righteousness and holiness that He has; and those who refuse to do so have no real future.
This misunderstanding of what it means to truly fear God leads people, and even the members of God’s Ekklesia, to adopt a soft concept of Almighty God claiming to be the followers of Christ, but yet they continue to show disrespect and contempt for God’s authority and power when they refuse to obey Him.
Many places in the Bible show that when the prophets or patriarchs came face to face with the presence of God it was a terrifying experience. They became acutely aware of their own smallness; their own insignificance and unholiness in comparison to the most Holy and Mighty God.
The children of Israel were so terrified when God came down to the top of Mount Sinai that they trembled and wanted Moses to speak to them and not have to hear the direct words of God. They feared greatly when God came near to them and when He made His presence known and spoke the Ten Commandments.
Exodus 19:16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 19:17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 19:18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19:19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.
To fear God is the starting place of what it means to revere God. When we come to see just how awesome and how POWERFUL He really is, we will fear to sin against Him or to evoke His WRATH!
Exodus 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 20:19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 20:21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
The fear of God is a very good thing for it motivates us to serve God only and to cleave unto Him only. It is a wonderful gift of God.
Deuteronomy 13:4 Ye shall walk after the Lord your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
Solomon wrote much about wisdom and he also wrote much about the fear of the Lord; he ended his book of Ecclesiastes with the concluding remark that to fear God and to keep His commandments is the whole duty of man; this is the purpose for why God made us. Every person who has ever lived will eventually realize this truth and will be given the opportunity to fear God enough to choose to obey Him or to reject His wisdom and forfeit eternal life.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
This is what the apostle Paul had to say about God’s judgement of those who willfully disobey Him:
Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
In these verses Paul is talking here about the willful sinner. He is not talking about those who occasionally slip up as a result of ignorance or weakness. This is talking about those who have turned their backs on obeying the Word of God and have actually become apostates or who have become lukewarm in their attitude toward God and His law. Paul is warning believers of the consequences of neglecting to properly fear God and this message is for all who do not take Him seriously. This warning is very much directed to the end time Ekklesia as well.
When we just believe anything a minister or leader tells us without checking up on him and proving from Scripture what he is teaching is really true, we are taking God for granted. There is no fear that we may be neglecting God’s commandments and the proper way of living according to every word of God.
Or when we are lukewarm as the Laodiceans who lack zealousness to keep the whole Word of God, or perhaps, are just sitting on the fence not really caring if we have God’s whole truth or not. Further, we are not showing that we truly do fear God when we refuse to examine ourselves to see if we have preconceived ideas of what God’s Word really does say. Do we even study into God’s Word to see what He has to say about any particular subject rather than trying to hang on to traditions that are shown to be traditions of men that were taught to us years ago?
If we are lackadaisical in our approach to God and all of His commandments we show by our conduct that we have a disregard for God and we are not taking Him seriously. The Laodicean thinks that He is just fine and does not have to study to grow in understanding and knowledge anymore. The whole message to the Laociacean church is about a people who do not have a proper fear of the Lord, and God says that He is going to spit them out of His mouth.
Revelation 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
If a man or woman rejects God’s wisdom and refuses to obey His laws, there is no way possible that God is able to work with such a one. If a person is unwilling to take the very first step by coming to fear God, to reverence, honor, and respect Him and fear to disobey Him, then he or she will remain in rebellion against God [just as Satan and his demons are]. They will remain as fools and will reject all of God’s wisdom and can go no further.
If We Keep All of God’s Commandments, We Will Grow in Wisdom
We also read David’s definition of how to have a good understanding of the things of God. David was Solomon’s father and Solomon was taught by his father David. This too fits right in with the pillar of wisdom that we are studying.
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
It is very similar to what Solomon says in Proverbs:
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
A modern English rendering is: “The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence], And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight.” (AMP)
God tells us in these Bible passages that to fear God is the beginning of wisdom and that if we are walking with Him and keeping His commandments, we will be granted understanding and insights into the holy things of God. How are we to express the proper fear of the Lord? What does it mean to fear God?
Both of these passages are trying to tell us something; something that is of utmost importance: That the fear of God [which is reverent awe, obedience, and worship of Him] is at the very beginning of godly wisdom in the things of God. To fear God in THIS WAY puts those who heed on the path to an intimate relationship with Him and they will grow in the understanding of everything about Him and of His plan and purpose for mankind.
The second half of both of these verses speaks of the blessings we receive when we “fear” God enough to obey all of His commandments and walk in all of His ways. Here again are the incredible rewards [blessings] that God promises to those who have the proper “fear of the Lord”:
“…a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”
“…the knowledge of the holy (Holy One) is understanding.”
The apostle Peter and the other apostles with him told the religious authorities who were persecuting them that God gives His Holy Spirit only to those who obey Him. If we are “doing God’s commandments” that means we are “obeying God”, and in Acts 5, God’s Word confirms the same principle that David gives in Psalm 111:10 for (as Paul says) it is the Holy Spirit that enlightens the mind to understand the spiritual things of God.
Acts 5:32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (See rest of the chapter)
There is tremendous blessings and not curses for obedience to God and in the keeping of all of His law.
Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, for if we fear enough to obey our Lord in all of His directions, instructions and law (which is living by every Word of God), God promises that He will pour out His Spirit on us which will enable us to see the wisdom of God and to understand the spiritual things of God including the magnificent Plan He has for all mankind. To know and understand the spiritual things of God is more precious than all the money and gold in the world.
If we are striving to obey God in all of His ways, He will enlighten our minds with His very own Spirit which will help us to understand things that the world just cannot understand at this time. For the past six thousand years most of the people in the world have had no hope, and continue to have no hope in spite of all the increase of knowledge in these modern times; even the most brilliant minds cannot understand what God is doing and that He has worked out a wonderful plan. They have no clue that God’s plan includes all the people who have ever been born and that even after death there is tremendous hope for all who learned from their mistakes from living lives of sin, repent and then seek God’s forgiveness, choosing to live the way that leads to everlasting life.
The Greatest Visible Evidence of Truly Having the Fear of God is Obedience to Him
Jesus tells us that: “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
The fear of God is the keeping of God’s commandments! When we obey God by keeping His commandments He will supply us with His Holy Spirit which will fill us with the fruits of that Spirit including faith, love, peace and soundness of mind, all of which drive out negative fear.
Those who truly do come to love God will repent of their wrong doing, will sincerely want to change their lives in a way that pleases Him obeying Him from the heart. He will then give us His Spirit which EMPOWERS us to live for Him and to be able to keep His commandments. So we see a full circle of God’s empowerment that begins with the positive type of the fear of the Lord. This “fear” is a most precious gift.
The fear of the Lord begins when God the Father calls us; He starts to draw a person when He implants a desire to come to know Him in the mind and heart of that person; and if that fear prompts them to seek the Lord with all of their hearts and they begin to keep all of His commandments, they will reap the blessings that He offers to His children. The blessings include His precious wisdom and understanding of all things pertaining to life and our purpose here on earth and what the future holds for those who commit to trust and obey God for the rest of their lives.
The definition of the fear of God is that we are to have awe and reverence toward God, along with fear; so much so that we love Him and adore everything about Him and want to do everything He says.
To fear God means we love Him and want to serve Him with all of our hearts and with all of our souls and all of our mind. If we fear God, we will keep all of His commandments and statutes, (not just in mindless rote) but from the heart because we know that His ways are good for us and others, and that they are the BEST ways to live.
In Deuteronomy, Moses tells the children of Israel that fearing God is required of them and then defines what having that kind of fear is all about: it is to love Him and serve Him and His purposes for as long as we live (which is throughout eternity).
Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 10:13 To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
So, yes, we are respect God and revere Him, but we do so with great fear of sinning against Him which will cut off our relationship with Him. We are to have a reverent fear of God enough that we desire with all of our hearts to do what He says and to live as He lives. We fear to disobey Him because we adore Him and we have come to adore all His laws, and we want to do everything we can to please Him and be in His will.
To “reverence” someone or something can also mean to do homage. The Greek word for reverence is proskuneó (Strong’s #4352) and means: “I go down on my knees to, do obeisance to, worship.”
The Hebrew word for reverence is pelach (Strong’s #6399). (Aramaic) corresponding to palach; to serve or worship — minister, serve. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
To be in awe and to reverence God is to worship Him which means to do homage. The Hebrew word for “worship” is segid (Strong’s # 5457)
And the Greek Word for “worship” is sebó (Strong’s #4576) and means: “I reverence, worship, adore.”
The English definition of “worship” is: 1. Reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred. 2. Formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage. 3. Adoring reverence or regard. 4. The object of adoring reverence or regard. 5. To render religious reverence and homage to. 6. To feel an adoring reverence or regard for (any person or thing).
We are to worship only one Person and that is God, He alone is to be our God and the object of our worship and reverence as our Lord and Savior. We are to have no other gods which are only false gods. We are to fear God alone and fear no other gods.
Deuteronomy 5:6 I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 5:7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me. 5:8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: 5:9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
The word for “to bow down” is shachah (Strong’s #7812) which also means to worship.
God tells us that we are to worship only Him, to fear only Him and not to worship or fear false gods nor idols.
Moses taught in many passages that we must fear God and keep all of His commandments and statutes. In Deuteronomy 6:2 we are told to fear God and keep His commandments and to teach that fear to our children and our grandchildren that they would keep them as well, and by doing so have long lives.
Deuteronomy 6:2 That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
Later, when Jesus was on earth He taught about what it meant to worship God; that God is Spirit and that we must WORSHIP [reverence and adore] Him in SPIRIT and in TRUTH: truth being all God’s laws, statutes, ordinances, directions, and instructions which are contained in the whole Word of God.
John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
The Bible says that the demons believe in and fear God and yet they hate God and do not obey Him nor do they worship Him. What kind of fear is that? Why do they not WANT to obey God and do as He says?
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble [with fear].
The demons fear God for they know that He is a God of awesome Power and He is a God of Justice and Recompense; and they also fear their fate that is coming. But they have set their hearts against God and in their rebellion and bitterness toward Him their minds have become warped and twisted.
They are at war with God, and because they are under the rule of Satan (whom they have chosen to follow and to be their ruler), they do all that they can to obstruct God and His plan, thinking that they are going to derail Him somehow even though they have great fear toward Him.
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
But God is much more brilliant than they are and He knows how to use their shenanigans to do His bidding, (see Job) and in the end all evil doers are going to be destroyed.
Jude 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Matthew 8:28 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
The following verse says that all the wicked will be burned up and this includes those who are evil angelic spirit beings.
Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
When persons (whether they be human or the angels that are in rebellion) refuse to glorify God and give Him thanks, they become vain and full of pride in their thinking and eventually they become full of hatred and bitterness which defiles them. If we have the proper and a steadfast fear of the Lord we will be safeguarded from this happening.
Hebrews 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
This happened with Satan, and then he led a third the angels to rebel against God with him; and they, too, became full of hatred and bitterness. And Satan and his demons do all they can to influence mankind with this same kind of spirit.
So even though the demonic host tremble before God and His power, they do not have the proper kind of fear that motivates them to obey Him. The people of the world really do need to have a proper fear of God for judgment is coming for all who do wickedly, and yet Satan has deceived most of mankind that they do not have to fear God in any way. He propagates the same lies to all mankind that he told Eve in the Garden:
Genesis 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Paul tells us in Romans 3 that mankind’s chief sin is that they “have no fear of God at all” and that is the basis of why men sin with impunity.
Romans 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Examples of God-fearing Servants of God
The Bible is full of examples of how fearing God is a positive rather than a negative thing. For example in Genesis, Joseph refused the advances of his master’s wife because he feared God; and latter he won his brothers’ trust when he declared to them that he is a God-fearing man and therefore would forgive them and take care of them.
For examples of bravery and fearing God on the part of Daniel’s three friends in Daniel 3 we can read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abenego who feared God more than they feared being burned up in Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace.
Daniel 3:15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. 3:17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. 3:18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Daniel himself feared God rather than feared what men could do to him in chapter 6, when faced with the demands placed upon them by evil men and rulers who tried to get them to compromise with God’s commandment of putting Him first.
It was because the midwives feared God that they obeyed Him instead of the authorities by sparing the Hebrew babies. By doing so they kept many of the Israelite babies alive and God blessed these midwives by giving them families of their own.
Exodus 1:17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.
And we can go on and on about the many other examples of God-fearing men and women. As we study through the Bible we see that all those who loved God, lived their lives for Him and served Him and His people and did certain things because “they feared God”.
Jesus Himself states this stronger than anyone when he says, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell [lake of fire]. (Matthew 10:28)
The apostle Paul teaches that we must work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
And then there is Jesus who is our perfect example of what it means to fear God for He came to do the will of His Father and He always did what was right in total obedience to his Father.
Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 11:2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; 11:3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
John 8:1 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 8:29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
Whom Do We Fear: Men or God?
In our modern day corporate church organizations we have mistakenly been taught to transfer what should be an appropriate fear of God to an inordinate fear of our leaders who are only human beings and not God at all.
Instead of fearing what God says will happen if we stay disobedient to Him, we fear what man will do to us and follow what they say even when they teach things contrary to God’s Word. Humanly this is so easy to do for men are visible and seem so real, where as God is invisible and may not seem all that real.
The key is to stay close to God, abiding in His presence daily, walking with Him in obedience every minute of our lives, and by doing so, God becomes the most real Personage of all and we come to fear to displease Him rather than displease those who are on the human sphere.
It was God who created man with the capacity to feel emotions. Fear is a good thing when it is used to protect us from things or people that may harm us or our loved ones. But fear can also be a negative thing if we let it rule us and we let it determine who we will follow and obey.
As human beings we all struggle with fear and most of us have had to fight against an inordinate fear of man and it can still be a day to day struggle for the threats (or rewards) of men can seem so concrete and seem very real to us; whereas God is invisible and we need total Faith in Him that He will provide and sustain us even when it looks like there is no possible way out of negative circumstances. The only way we can overcome our fears is with help from God and through the power He gives us that enable us to be strengthened in the “inner man”.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
Ephesians 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
When we know that God loves us and that He is on our side, we can have faith that He will guard us and deliver us when we face trials of all kinds. And when we are trusting God and striving to obey Him in all things, the love we have toward God will cast out the kind of fear that is torment.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
The phrase “fear of man” as defined in the Bible covers a broad range of preoccupation over what people think of us. It is not wrong to care about what people think about us and it is not wrong to want to preserve our reputation in their eyes. God wants us to care about the feelings of others and not to want to offend them. There are many verses that confirm this.
Proverbs 22:1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
Proverbs 3:1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 3:2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: 3:4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
It was said of Jesus that as a young man He grew in the favor of God and the people.
Luke 2:51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 2:52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
So having a good reputation and being in men’s favor is actually a valuable and desirable thing to have. As followers of Christ we sincerely want to remain in the good graces of all whom we know and meet, and especially of those we love and respect…. if at all possible.
But the fear of man is when we care TOO MUCH about what people think of us or what they may say about or do to us.
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
Solomon is saying that fear of man lays a trap for us somewhat like a “snare” which has within it some kind of lure or bait that leads the victim to being ensnared or caught in a trap. If we fear men more than God, that fear will lead us to sin and entrapment to the consequences of sin.
We are to fear God and obey Him first; that is the teaching of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Being trapped into fearing men against our own better judgment of how we are to live according to what God mandates will ultimately restrain us from living to please our heavenly Father. And the fear of men will motivate us into seeking to please the carnal demands of mere mortal men who are fallible and temporal; rather than God who is righteous and eternal.
Men are not gods and we are not to deem anyone as our god other than the true God, our Creator and the creator of heaven and earth. We are not to fear any other being or person more than God.
Paul wrote to the Galatians that the fear of man will lead us astray if we go about seeking the approval of men rather than doing the things that please God.
Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
Paul is not implying that we should never try to please people or that it is always wrong to want people to approve of us and like us. Not at all, but rather he is driving home a point about whom it is that we must put first when it comes to pleasing (or fearing): either people or God.
What kind of fear is it that drives us? what is it that really motivates us? Is it the fear of man or the fear of God that is really controlling us? If our underlying goal is to always please people (which takes us away from pleasing God), we no longer are the servants of Christ but of people.
Also, Paul tells us in other places that the Gospel message will be an offense to those who are not being called; those who have no interest in the things of God, and if we are being faithful to proclaim the Gospel and to teach God’s Word, it will offend people for most are not in the process of being converted at this time.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: 2:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
We should never try to be personally offensive to those who see how we live or to those whom we are speaking God’s truth. We are to always incorporate the fruits of God’s Spirit in all that we do and say including when preaching the Gospel; but no matter how tactful we may be, if we are faithful in declaring the Gospel and its full message, it will invariably offend most people.
But we must not be like shifting sand that changes to accommodate the message to that of an inoffensive Gospel to our listeners or readers; a message or teachings that does not risk offense and one which does not carry the power and the full truth of the Gospel with it either. That is fearing men and not God.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
How then do we as the people of God overcome the fear of man in our lives? Just as the Bible tells us: with the FEAR of God! If we see that we have fear of man in our lives, that reveals a lot about how we view God and our lack of faith. We must cry out to God to free us just as we would any other entanglement or snare that we should find ourselves in.
What God has to say about fearing Him in lieu of men, is what helps us to push out our fear of men; and God will give us the strength and the faith and the power through His Holy Spirit to overcome and to go on to do the will of God in our lives.
If mere men are causing us fear in our hearts then that indicates that man has become bigger than God in our eyes, and it means that we have diminished God’s power in our minds to save and to take care of us even when we face tremendous trials in our lives.
God’s Word teaches us that in order to obliterate fear of man, we must fill ourselves up with Faith and walk in the fear of the Lord.
1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Isaiah 51:12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
But for the believer, now, in this life, the fear of the Lord actually brings peace for if we are reconciled with Christ and with God the Father and we are walking with them, we will have the peace that is beyond human description and this kind of peace will guard us from being snared by the fear of man.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Once one is called, that person with God’s help, exchanges the fear of man (which in reality is an embedded lifestyle of fearfulness) with the kind of fear that is reverence, awe, worship, and an intense desire to obey God’s Word. Because we fear God we trust Him who loves us and wants us to qualify to be a member of His own Family for all of eternity.
Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
So we see that the second half of this verse is a promise from God. Once we come to the full grip of what God is saying it sets us free. For whoever trusts in the Lord; those who fear Him, and are in awe of Him and reverence and obey Him; it is they who will be protected and kept safe and he or she will be kept safe from the snare that the fear of man brings.
From this we are to understand that the fear of the Lord is a very good kind of fear for it purges out the destructive kind of fear which is inordinate fear and the fear of man. The fear of the Lord puts our lives in the proper perspective: that God is larger and more powerful than anything in this world including any man.
David’s Psalm 19 speaks of the treasure that is ours if we will only trust God and hold dear all of His laws and statutes. David goes on to describe the wondrous things that the keeping of God’s commandments will do for us and that they and all of God’s statutes are more valuable than all the finest gold and the sweetest honey in the world.
Psalm 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 19:8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 19:9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 19:10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
In verse 11 we are told that the Law of the Lord shows us the way to live [by them thy servants are warned] and in keeping them there will be great reward [eternal life with God in His Kingdom].
19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
So when we face the kind of fear of man that causes distress of spirit, or the kind that paralyzes us, silences us, makes us afraid to step out in faith to do the work God wants us to do; we need to remember that God is much greater than our fears and greater than anything man can do to us.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
It is God who holds our lives in the palms of His hands and no other. What can man do to me? Of whom shall I be afraid? The fear of the Lord leads us to trust in our Great God, the One who loves us and sees us as the apple of His eye if we are one of His faithful children.
Psalm 17:5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. 17:6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. 17:7 Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. 17:8 Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, 17:9 From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.
Psalm 118:6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
Luke 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
We must SEE God more than we see physical men and the circumstances of this life. Unless God is actively and intimately involved in our lives we will lose any fear of Him that we did have which will lead us away from the wisdom of God.
If we have a legitimate fear of the Holy God, it will replace our terror of men; the fear of God keeps us safe, for obedience to God places a hedge of protection around us. Just as a toddler who fears to run out into the street, not because he knows that it is a dangerous place but because he fears the wrath of his parents who told him to stay away from the street. It is the child’s healthy fear of his parents and a desire to be in good standing at all times with his parents that keeps him out of harm’s way.
So we see that Godly fear is a very positive thing, it is a gift given to us when God the Father begins to call us, and if we respond positively to His call, the fear of God helps us to us to submit and yield ourselves to God’s plan for our lives and for His purpose; it will most assuredly lead us to godly knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. And it will protect us from the snare of fearing men and allowing them to lead us down a path that is going into the opposite direction from God.
Proverbs 14:27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
As the writers of Scripture teach us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord is where we start, for without a proper fear of God we will not revere Him, look to Him as our Lord and Master, and we will do whatever we want seeking all that this world has to offer just like all the billions out there who have no fear of Him.
We fear to be outside God’s will, for the most awesome thing we have to look forward to is to be a part of God’s family and we do not want to miss out on the things that God has promised to us.
1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (See also Revelation 1:13-18)
The Fear of the Lord Sets Us Free
So how does having the fear of God replace the fear of men and fear of the things of this world that threaten to cause us harm? The key to relinquishing the fear of man is to understand the temporal nature of this world and that whatever man can do to us is only temporary. But God is the one we are to fear for it is He who has the power over life and death and all of eternity.
Revelation 1: 18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
1st Samuel 2:6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
When we fear men and think of them as the ultimate threat to our safety, we give them unwarranted power, for in truth, man’s threats are temporary, for man is nothing but grass in comparison to God.
Isaiah 51:12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
This is where “FAITH” comes in, for if we really have faith that what God says in His Word is true, we will believe that He is more powerful than the visible and audible threats that we can see and hear that can seem so ominous to us.
Faith in God will replace the fear of men. And if we keep God in focus, our perspective of what really matters in this life changes. We come to see that pleasing God is what matters most, and that it is He who, in truth, holds our well-being and even our eternal life in His hands.
Sinning against God to appease a man because we fear that man will bring only short-lived desired results if any results at all, and if not repented of could have eternal ramifications; just as the third of the angels who chose to please Satan rather than the Eternal One who created them.
When God calls us He will shatter for us the delusions that Satan has cast over the whole world that this life is all there is and that to get ahead in the world we must obey the temporal powers that be.
As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of God’s whole Word, God will deliver us from our delusions. As He reveals His truth and helps us to understand His plan and purpose we will see more and more how superfluous the things of this world are and how fleeting they are. As we come to know God’s truth, it will set us free from the lies and deceptions that have been foisted upon us from the time we were born.
Jesus says His mission is to set the captives free and one way He does this is to free us from Satan’s deceptions and lies.
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
John 8:30 As he spake these words, many believed on him. 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Again we think of what David said in his Psalm about the fear of the Lord and wisdom:
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
Psalm 33:10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect
And Paul talked about the kind of wisdom we are to seek from God in lieu of the wisdom that comes from men (See 1 Corinthian 2:4-16).
God through Isaiah prophesied of the Messiah that would come and that He would be the epitome of wisdom, understanding, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. Jesus Christ is the supreme example we are to follow and strive to emulate.
Isaiah 11:2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
Wisdom ~ The Fear of the Lord Will Lead Us to Eternal Life With Blessings Evermore
Walking in the fear of the Lord will give us the wisdom to be able to see and know the Plan of God. God tells us through His servant David that a good understanding have all they that keep His commandments. How blessed we are to know these things and God will increase our understanding even more as we strive to obey Him in all things.
If we have repented and have come to Christ and we are putting Him and all of His Word first, we know that we are accepted by Him and God the Father even if the people of the world cannot accept us for believing His Word and for keeping His law.
The fear of God sets us free from the traps of man-centered worship and we are freed from the burden of needing the approval and acceptance of others. We can then devote our lives to pleasing our Wonderful Savior who matters the most and to do His will. We will believe and know that:
Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let us pray that God will help us all to overcome the fear of men and to come to fear Him. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to live our lives for Him in a world that is increasingly becoming intolerant of anything that has to do with the God of the Bible and for those who take a stand for God’s standards of righteousness and morality.
God says of Himself: “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. ” (Isaiah 43:11) and in Hebrews Paul tells us that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God“. (Hebrews 10:31)
If we are watching and praying, asking God to teach us, putting Him first and living by His every Word, and if we fear God rather than men; then we will be on the right path, drawing ever closer to God and internalizing the very character and nature of our Great and Glorious God. No man is capable of doing that for us. Let us walk in the fear of the Lord all our days seeking His will for us over any other man’s will… no matter how impressive that man may appear.
The Fear of the Lord is at the very heart of Wisdom and is one of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom that support God’s House!
Hear the wise words of Daniel:
Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 12:3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
In past generations and also in these last days, God is creating a wise people for Himself, ones who will one day soon rise up in the resurrection of the just and will go on to teach God’s wisdom to the world in His Kingdom. And it all began because they feared God and were willing to listen to His voice, the voice of WISDOM.
Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 2:3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 2:5 O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.