[March 12]--Man’s Response to God: Fear

Prov. 9:10; 10:27; 14:26; 19:23

In looking at what the book of Proverbs says about God, you might have noticed a pattern. First we examined what it says about his nature and how we can apply that knowledge. Second we took a couple of days to see how he takes the initiative to reach out to humanity. Today and tomorrow we’re going to take a look at how we’re supposed to respond to him. There are two words which summarize what we’re expected to do: fear and trust. Today’s fear, tomorrow’s trust.

I’ve touched upon this concept of the fear of the Lord before, so I’m not going to delve into it too deeply. Just keep in mind that it’s the furthest thing in the world from being afraid of God. Being afraid of him would drive you away from him, just like being afraid of reptiles means my wife will never approach one. The fear of the Lord, however, means that we're in awe of his majesty, his grace, his power, his sovereignty, etc. It means that we approach his throne of grace with confidence, not arrogance.

We’re going to discuss the concept of parallelism in more depth at another time, but for now let me give you a one-sentence primer. It’s a method that Solomon and other authors use to link two phrases together in a verse. For example, in 9:10 he links “the fear of the Lord” with “knowledge of the Holy One.” So in this verse they’re associated with each other, which helps us gain insight into what fear of God means: It includes developing a personal relationship with him. And according to this verse, it’s the starting point of wisdom, and there’s no wisdom without it.

There are three benefits to this path that are listed in the remaining verses. First, there’s long life. We talked about this on the 5th, but just a reminder: This is not a blanket promise that God will make sure that you live to be 120 if you follow him. Believers all of the world are having their lives cut short by persecution. But in general you'll tend to live longer and better if you stick to God’s plan.

Second you’ll have a secure fortress, and there’s something even better. If you have children, don’t you want to leave them a good inheritance? Even better than money or property, however, is the invaluable heritage of a godly home, where children learn early on that God’s way is the best way of doing things. Again, this isn’t a blanket promise, since each person has to make his own choices, but it certainly helps.

Third, there’s peace. No matter what happens, no matter how crazy it gets, we can rest content, untouched by trouble. It doesn’t mean you won’t have any trouble, but it does mean that you won’t really be touched by it. I believe that this applied to Job, by the way. When he lost all his possessions, his children, and his health, this was his attitude: “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Trouble can only touch you if you’re holding onto something too tightly that you shouldn’t.

All of this comes from fearing God the way we’re supposed to. Isn’t that what you want?

Yes, Father, that’s exactly what I want. Having a close relationship with you is rewarding enough, but all these other blessings as well? You really love to bless your children, don’t you?

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