The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise.
In previous posts I wrote about the phrase “fear of the Lord” and after reading this verse I thought I would touch on it again today.
Let’s look at the definition of “fear”:
- An unpleasant, often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.
- Anxious concern
- Profound reverence and awe especially towards God
- Reason for alarm
I think Merriam Webster got definition three from the consistent use of the phrase “fear of the Lord” throughout the Bible, especially the Old Testament.
When most hear or read the phrase “fear of the Lord” they think of definitions one, two and four. And when most think of why they should fear the Lord they picture someone of human form sitting on a cloud, watching and waiting to do us harm when we screw up.
That image has been placed in our heads by those in charge, or who think they are in charge, to keep us in line. Like the good cop/bad cop routine. You know, like, hey I forgive you and we can be friends by that other guy up in the clouds, well he isn’t so nice, so just make a donation and I’ll see what I can do.
It’s been sold to us as children to help keep us in line, which isn’t a bad thing. As children it’s almost impossible for us to understand the concept of God. In reality it’s almost impossible for adults as well. But any help a parent can get to keep their children in line is alright by me. I raised two of them, and I was once a child myself.
What I am now talking about, and what King David and other in the Bible are talking about is not the image of cowering in the corner with fear. The fear, anticipation or awareness of danger, is not about outside forces taking revenge on us. The fear is about what we are doing to ourselves.
Through our ignorance of consequences, through our slothfulness and excessiveness, by not living a righteous life, what are we doing to the gift God has given us? We are wasting and destroying the opportunity to live a life to the fullest extent. By living our life to the fullest, by living in righteousness we praise God whose praise endures forever.
The fear that King David is talking about is the fear of getting up each day and realizing you have wasted the opportunities of previous days. If you don’t change you will continue to do so each and every day. It is the fear of not letting God into your heart to be able to see the opportunities that lie in front of you. It is the fear of allowing your heart to be filled with excuses and worldly desires until you wake up the last day and say, my God I have wasted a lifetime.
This is the fear, the anxious concern that leads to wisdom.
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