Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
The Bible tells us many things but regarding fear it tells us only two: fear the Lord and do not fear anything else. They go together – if we fear the Lord that is, treat Him with the reverence, worship and wonder He deserves as the all powerful, all knowing Creator of everything, then we will not need to fear anything else. If we don’t give Him the respect, the acknowledgement, the obedience that is His due then we fear pretty much everything else.
Take a look at Eve in Genesis 3. God had told them clearly they could eat whatever they wished except from one tree. Along comes the serpent who whispered she was missing out. God wasn’t protecting her – He was withholding something from her. Instead of fearing God, the One who walked alongside them in the garden, who had given them every good thing she listened to the fear that she was being cheated and sinned. The results in the rest of the chapter speak for themselves.
Take a look at Cain in Genesis 4. God told him how to be acceptable in his worship but the fear of failing, of constant rejection, drowned out the instruction of God and jealousy (fear?) that his brother was better than he was, that he, Cain, would never be good enough caused a reaction that again had repercussions that speak for themselves.
Take a look at Herod in Matthew 2. King of Judah, he had the opportunity to find the saviour, he had the opportunity to believe the prophets and walk in God’s ways but the fear of losing His throne, his power, his position resulted in the slaughter of many baby boys. The slaughter of the innocents puts him alongside Pharoah in biblical infamy.
Take a look at Psalm 2 and see the futility of rebellion against God. It might have some short-term success but in the long-term, it is pointless because He holds all the power. But the last line of verse 12, one short phrase shouts out to listen and obey Him, to be wise and accept His rule.
But what joy for all who take refuge in him
We focus on the wrong thing, we focus on fear and it worries us, even fear of the Lord. We try and make sense of it, rationalise it with our worldview of being competent, independent, self-sufficient grown-ups. There is, of course, some truth in that view but only when placed inside the Truth that we are completely reliant on God.
Without Him, without His guidance and love, all the power, wealth, possessions in the world can’t make us secure. With Him, there is no situation, no opposition, no problem that we need to fear because He has promised to be our refuge, our shelter, our Rock, our strong tower, our Salvation. We get a proper perspective on the things of this world compared to Him.
As we move into the New Year, back to work, school, daily life, let’s aim to keep the proper fear of the Lord in our hearts and minds. Let’s embrace the wisdom and discipline He brings to us – both for our sakes and for those around us.