The Bible teaches us that the foundation of all true wisdom is the knowledge and fear of God: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1: 7). To be truly wise, we must begin with the fear of God.
As we learnt last week, the fear of God is not a servile or slavish fear nor a fear of punishment, but a filial, humble and reverential fear based on the revelation of His nature, majesty, power, glory and sovereignty. It is also a fear that is borne out of love for God our Heavenly Father Who has dealt so lovingly and graciously with us.
Concluding the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon exhorts us to: “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12: 13). The fear of God will lead us to obey Him. We will not live wilfully or carelessly lest we grieve Him. Ever mindful of God’s attributes – His omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence – we will not indulge in sin for He sees, knows and weighs our every thought and action.
The fear of the Lord brings with it many blessings. Let us consider some of them:
o A good understanding
Where the fear of God rules our lives, there will be a right understanding of God’s Word which will guide us to act and speak wisely: “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” (Ps. 111: 10). As we fear God and obey His Word, we will also “find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man” (Prov. 3: 4). A God-fearing life not only pleases the Lord but also makes us amiable to our fellowmen.
Fearing the Lord assures our heart of His divine favour: “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence” (Prov. 14: 26a). We rest in the full confidence that He loves us and watches over us.
All God-fearing parents are assured of God’s mercies upon their posterity: “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children” (Ps. 103: 17). Their children “shall have a place of refuge” from the snares of sin and the storms of life (Prov. 14: 26b).
“All men wish to do everything that lies in their power for their children – but death will soon remove us out of the world, and what will we then do for them or ourselves? The estates that are left them, often vanish like snow in the month of March. The best thing we can do for our children, is to fear God – and whether we live or die, the word of God lives, and His promise abides forever” (A Practical Exposition of the Book of Proverbs – George Lawson).
o Riches, honour and life
One who fears God – who possesses a deep sense of God’s greatness, glory and majesty – will certainly walk humbly before Him. A lowly heart coupled with the fear of God enriches our lives: “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life” (Prov. 22: 4). Such a one will be well rewarded with a meaningful and contented life.
This truth is reiterated in Proverbs 19: 23a: “The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied.” Another dimension to this comforting promise is the fact that “he shall not be visited with evil” (Prov. 19: 23b). While the God-fearing man may be visited with sickness or other afflictions, he will not be moved as he trusts in the Lord to work out His will and purpose for his life (Rom. 8: 28; Ps. 91: 10).
o Preservation from the snares of sin
The fear of God is an antidote against sin and temptation (Prov. 2: 10-12). Our love for God, our fear of offending Him, and our consciousness of His divine attributes, will cause us to walk circumspectly and wisely: “By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Prov. 16: 6b).
“Those that have a true relish of the pleasures of serious godliness will not be allured by the baits of sin to swallow its hook; they know where to obtain better things than any it can pretend to offer, and therefore it is easy to them to depart from the snares of death and to keep their foot from being taken in them” (Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary).
God bestows His favour and blessings upon all who fear Him. Brethren, do we fear the Lord? Do we have a deep sense of His greatness, glory and majesty? Are we mindful of His attributes – His omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence? Let us check our lives. Let us fear God and keep His commandments that we may enjoy His every favour and be a blessing to our fellowmen.