My Favorite Proverbs: The Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)
It’s been a little over a week since the West Huntsville family was able to assemble. I want to encourage us all to guard against discouragement and especially against the resentment that can come with “cabin fever.” Wisdom is the ability to see how particular actions will turn ultimately turn out. God gives divine wisdom. We can know that our trials will result in patience (James 1: 2,3). We can know that even our difficulties can accomplish His plans (Romans 8:28).
Solomon spoke three thousand parables (1 Ki. 4:32). The book of Proverbs was written by, arguably, the wisest man who ever lived with the obvious exception of Christ Himself. It’s a great place to go when we’re looking for the good things that can be resultant from days of uncertainty. It’s a wellspring of divine wisdom. Let’s spend a few days in the Proverbs.
The Dickson New Analytical Bible observes, as it introduces the book of Proverbs, that most of the book of Proverbs was written or collected by Solomon. It tells us that nothing is known about the men to whom the last two chapters are credited, Agur and King Lemuel.
Then, it says this:
“The book of Proverbs, however, is more than a collection of pithy sayings. It reflects the historical background of the age in which Solomon lived, and it speaks to the needs of the people. This was a time when great wealth and luxury in a privileged society brought the temptation to ignore the simple virtues that were the foundation stones on which the fathers of the nation had built its growth and prosperity.”The Dickson New Analytical Bible
You can see why these inspired proverbs are so valuable to those of us who are navigating our course through a wealthy and changing America in this decade. The first chapter, verse seven says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
While this fear is compatible with loving God, it is noteworthy that he did not say that the beginning of knowledge is loving God. It’s fearing Him.
The word fear is found four hundred times in the KJV, and most of those reference fearing God.
Let’s think of fear in two different ways:
1. I am afraid of Him.
“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).
2. I reverence Him.
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecc. 12:13).
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (Ja. 4:10).
“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him” (Psa. 89:7).
The Hebrew word for fear in Ecclesiastes 12:13 is yare, and Strong’s says it means both cause to frighten: — affright, dread(-ful),” (put in) fear(-ful, -fully, -ing), but also “to be had in reverence.
In the New Testament the original word for fear (as is seen in 1 Jn. 4:18), is phobeo and it is translated, to be frightened, to be alarmed,” but can also be translated, “to revere…reverence.
It may surprise you that being afraid of Him is not a wrong reason for a man to become a Christian. Jude 23 says, “…but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Certainly, fear would play a part in that conversion scenario. And yet, fear isn’t the best reason. The verse just before this says, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction.” Scholars believe this has to do with convicting or convincing those who may contend with truth or differ with truth. The reason for obedience, in this case, would be more of a conviction by logic and appealing to the cross and less a response of being afraid. Oh, that all men would bow their knees before the One who is powerful enough to design and create them, and merciful enough to save them (Rom. 8:32). Reverence in conviction is the mature outgrowth of initial fear, and perfect love casts out fear.
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:17-19).
The greatest journey you will ever take in life is to learn to fear God. It is the beginning of true knowledge.
Tonight’s Story Time:
Read Genesis 43 to prepare for this time with your children. Read slowly through these verses to grasp the details.
- Joseph wanted to see his younger and full-brother, Benjamin, the only other son of his mother Rachel. He must have wondered if his wicked brothers had treated Benjamin in a cruel way, too. (Talk to your children about what it means to repent. Give them some scenarios and ask them what a person would do who was repenting. An example might be a little girl who snatched a toy from her younger sibling. How could she repent? Maybe it’s a little boy who told a lie. How would he repent?) One essential part of the brothers’ repentance, in the mind of Joseph, was that they would love and respect Benjamin; so, he asked them to bring Benjamin: “And bring your youngest brother to me; so I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men.” (Gen. 42:34). What do you think Joseph would have done if he learned that they had treated Benjamin in a mean way too?
- When Joseph’s daddy, Jacob, learned that the ruler in Egypt wanted his sons to bring Benjamin, he said “no” at first. But the famine was very bad in the land (Gen. 43:1). Have you ever been really hungry? Judah, who had been so mean to Joseph when Joseph was young, said to his Dad, “I myself will be a surety for him…if I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever” (Gen. 43:9). Judah said he would take all the blame if anything bad happened to Benjamin. Jacob sent Benjamin with Judah. Joseph had not seen his younger brother in about twenty years, and, when he saw him, he went into another room to cry. Why do you think he cried?
- Always be good to your brothers and sisters, and decide now that you will stay close to them and love them all of your life.
- There are two kinds of tears. Some are sad, and some are very happy. When have you cried because you were sad? When have you cried because you were happy?
- Have your kids make another card or two for the Christians who need our encouragement in Vermont. Tell them you think some of these Christians will cry because they are happy when they receive these cards. It will mean a lot to them.
- See if your older children can think of a sibling in the Bible who was unkind to a brother. (Elicit answers like Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27), or Eliab and David (I Samuel 17:28) or the elder brother in Luke 15).
- Pray with your children. Remember to pray that, while we are all stuck together in this house for these days, we will love each other, have fun with each other and treat each other with great kindness.
- Have your children quote the Golden Rule.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.