yesterday I read through the book of Proverbs in one sitting. This was a really interesting experience. But I think probably the basic gist of the book is that the fear of the Lord is the basis for gaining wisdom and understanding.
Wisdom is contrasted with folly, understanding with simplicity or ignorance, wealth with poverty, hard work with laziness, righteousness with the wiked and so on. All of this hangs on the notion of the fear of the Lord.
So I made a list of the instances of “fear of the Lord” and what was associated with it.
The Fear of the Lord is:
the beginning of knowledge. 1:7
the knowledge of God. 2:5
to hate evil. 8:13
the beginning of wisdom. 9:10
adds length to life. 10:27
is to walk uprightly. 14:2
a fountain of life. 14:27
to avoid evil. 16:6
leads to life. 19:23
Now, I have to say that the whole notion of what it means to fear the Lord has not been an easy process for me.
I once read a book that talks about it but felt it put too heavy a burden on me. It was a book by Joy Dawson on Friendship with God. I am sure it wasn’t her fault but I did not respond to the book in a positive way. I actually became more legalistic and a hard person. I was hard on myself more than anything. I don’t really remember why this happend but I felt the same burden try to come on me when I once tried to read John Bevere’s book on the fear of the Lord, A Heart Ablaze. I just couldn’t get throught it, hardly even past the first couple chapters. I got rid of it and his other books I had too. Not sure why those two books had such a negative effect on me.
The one and only book so far that I have read that helped me and was actually refreshing and enjoyable to read was Jerry Bridges’ book The Joy of Fearing God.
It has been a while since I read it but it impacted me so I carry some of it with me. One thing I do remember is his talking about how we ahould fear God in both senses of the word. I know this isn’t a popular notion but I think he is right. It is along the lines of how C.S. Lewis described Aslan in his Chronicles of Narnia. “He is not safe, but he is good” and that if one could stand before him without their knees knocking they are either braver than most or just plain silly.
I don’t think it is inappropriate to speak of the Lord in this way but probably necessary. He is afterall, the Judge of all the Earth and his judgement is coming. When that day comes each one of us will have to stand before the Lord and give an account and I think the bacis idea behind “walking in the fear of the Lord” has to do with keeping these kinds of things in mind. It has to do with living in the present in light if the future.
I think we all need a healthy dose of fear of God in our hearts. It helps us “walk the line” so to speak.
In Proverbs, living in the fear of the Lord helps us avoid folly and wickedness, and destruction, and to gain wisdom, understanding, righteouness and life. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (9:10). The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life turning a person from the snares of death (14:27). The fear of the Lord leads to lfe; then one rests content, untouched by trouble (19:23).
Well, those are my thoughts for now on the fear of the Lord.