Psalm 19:11b – … And in keeping them there is great reward. (NKJV)
This series of lessons looks at the life most Christians want, many Christians talk about and some Christians experience brief glimpses of… but few attain on a daily, consistent, long-term basis. It is a life that is:
- Refreshed and re-energized, full of wisdom, joyful, enlightened, consistent and righteous, rewarding and fulfilled
So far we have learned that:
God’s law (His rule of action) converts (restores, refreshes) the soul because knowing and keeping His law leads to a fruitful, guiltless life of fellowship with God. (v. 7a)
God’s testimony (His declaration and evidence of facts), especially of Jesus Christ, imparts wisdom to the simple (foolish; anyone devoid of God’s truth and wisdom) (v. 7b)
- God’s precepts (instructions, directions) are right (by default) and are heart is rejoiced when we keep them. (v. 8a)
- God’s commandments are pure (by default correct; they are right and nothing other) and enlighten (bring understanding and meaning) to the eyes (the mind, the heart).(v. 8b)
In verse’s seven and eight we looked at four different aspects of Gods revealed knowledge to us about how we should live life. We looked at God’s law, God’s testimony, God’s precepts and His commandments.
In verse nine the Psalmist appears to switch gears and begins to talk about the fear of the Lord. But in reality is not a change of subjects at all.
The fear of God is a synonym for His law/testimony/statutes/commandments.
The purpose of the Law is to put fear into the sinful human heart.
Deuteronomy 4:10 – especially concerning the day you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.’ (NKJV, emphasis mine)
This is a healthy fear, a fear that is meant to lead us to a righteous life. We are not comfortable with this type of language today. When we speak of religion or Christianity we typically want to be filled with words of love… gentle and soft, and pleasing to the ear.
While that is certainly part of the Gospel, another part of the Gospel goes typically neglected and that is the part about fear, the fear of the Lord. God’s law, His commandments and instruction are meant to strike fear into our hearts realizing that if we transgress a holy God that there are consequences to follow.
It’s amazing and sad today that people have very little fear of those in authority over them. I remember growing up being very fearful of authority. But it was a good fear. We have turned the word “fear” into something that is always negative and to be avoided.
A good healthy fear of authority keeps us on a righteous path. I was significantly afraid of violating the instructions or rules of my parents, schoolteachers… any adult for that matter. Even the police today don’t enjoy a healthy fear (respect) from many people. Entire generations of adults and kids are growing up with a very casual and unconcerned attitude towards authority.
Some people might say that this is a good thing. Some would have us believe that to live in fear is a negative. And of course to live in the WRONG KIND of fear is a negative. For a Christian to live with a continual, ungrounded fear of not being saved, or a fear of God not keeping His promises, or a fear that the Lord will not care for you is an unhealthy and sinful type of fear. A fear man that causes you to bow to the wishes of the world or forsake the wishes of God is unhealthy. To be a fearful person in general… fearful of living life, fearful of troubles and trials, fearful of what might happen next… those are the types of fears that are wrong because we need to be putting our trust in God and that God will see us through everything in this life.
Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (NKJV)
We need and should have a very deep and healthy fear/respect of God. This is a fear based on a proper knowledge of his holiness, of his authority, and of the consequences for violating the commandments of our Creator. This is the type of fear that keeps us on the path of righteousness and guards our way. This fear is a built-in sensor and spiritual alarm that tells us when we have transgressed the holy standard of our Lord.
The “fear of the Lord” is a synonym for the other four descriptions we have studied:
law, testimony, commandments and statutes.
Notice what verse nine says about this fear: it is clean and enduring. This is a fear to be desired and embraced because it is meant for our good. It is clean which is another way of saying that it is pure. It is holy, without fault and lacks anything unwholesome.
Malachi 3:6 – “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. (NKJV)
The fear of the Lord is pure… and it endures forever. It never ends, it never goes away, it never fails and we don’t ever have to worry about it changing. Unlike man’s religions, governments or what ever happens to be popular at the moment, we do not have to worry about the ways of God ever changing, vacillating or fluctuating.
Ignorance of God leads to the wrong kind of fear.
You have to know God in order to fear Him in the positive manner.
How do you know God? He is found in prayer and time in His presence. He is revealed through His Word (the Bible) and you have to read it, meditate on it and practice it in order to know Him. Knowledge of God is learned through diligent, consistent, serious study of His Written Word and by asking God in prayer to illumine Truth in your heart.
Joshua 4:24 – that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (NKJV)
God’s law is perfect; it restores and refreshes the soul. God’s testimony is sure and will make you wise. The Lord’s precepts are right and will give you a heart full of joy. God’s commandments are pure and will bring light and understanding to your life. The fear of the Lord directs us in the way of righteousness and can be trusted as holy and enduring. Tomorrow we will look at the righteous judgments of the Lord.
Holy Lord, Help us to understand what a true and healthy fear of the Lord is. Teach us to embrace the fear is a way to guard our life and keep us on your path of righteousness. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Are you like the bumper sticker – “no fear”? Do you have a literal and tangible fear of violating the law? Man’s law? God’s law? If not, does it parallel a lack of spiritual depth in your life? Does fearing the Lord seem “wrong”? Has your concept of it changed after reading this?
Application: If you do not feel, sense or experience a real, tangible fear when you sin and violate God’s holy standards, then you have become desensitized and lack the biblical fear of the Lord. If this is true for you today, pray and asked God to restore this respect for Him so that you can walk in God’s paths and lead a righteous life.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?