On Mother’s Day last month we ladies each received a lovely bookmark with this verse on it: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30) This means that the fear of the Lord should be the key characteristic of a praiseworthy woman.
To fear the Lord is to regard Him with deep and affectionate respect which would entail obedience of the first and greatest commandment to love the Lord our God with our entire being.
The Book of Proverbs provides us with ample teaching on the fear of the Lord.
Indications of the Fear of the Lord
The fear of the Lord indicates vital beginnings:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:7); “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)
Fearing God opens up a whole life-path and vista of true knowledge, wisdom and understanding as we come to appreciate that the Lord God is the only source and loving giver of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-5 documents the earnest pursuit of wisdom, understanding and knowledge as the key to understanding the fear of the Lord and finding the knowledge of God, “for the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:6)
Proverbs 15:33 – “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom.” Fearing God teaches us to live wisely. Living in this complex, sin-ridden world of constant flux of unpredictable changes, we simply cannot do without true knowledge, proper understanding and heavenly wisdom!
Implications of the Fear of the Lord
On a practical note, fearing God means avoiding or departing from evil and walking uprightly or conducting ourselves with uncompromising integrity:
“The one whose walk is upright fears the Lord.” (Proverbs 14:2a); “Through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil / by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.” (Proverbs 16:6b, NIV/KJV). Before our perfectly holy Father God we cannot but stand in awe and make a clean break with all that is evil and defiles His holiness as well as dishonours His Name!
Using a stronger emotive term, Proverbs 8:13 says “To fear the Lord is to hate evil,” because the Lord says, “I hate pride and arrogance, evil behaviour and perverse speech.”
There is therefore no room for flaunting prideful power and arrogant authority to lord over or suppress innocent people. Neither is there space for cunning scheming and despicable conduct to gain selfish control and personal advantage over the disadvantaged; nor allowance for perverse rumours, distorted tales and deceitful slander to discredit the unsuspecting and faithful and to deceive others. To fear God is to utterly loathe every evil thought, ungodly attitude, impure motive, disgraceful conduct and deplorable speech.
Blessings of the Fear of the Lord
Proverbs 14:26 says, “He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress and it will be a refuge for his children.”
This means that the one who fears God enjoys impregnable security and even extends that blessing to his children!
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.” Proverbs 14:27 shows that the fear of the Lord has life-and-death implications!
The blessedness of the truly good life is found in the fear of the Lord as the following verses testify:
“By humility and fear of the Lord are riches, honour and life.” (Proverbs 22:4). “The fear of the Lord leads to life: then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” (Proverbs 19:23). “The fear of the Lord adds length to life…” (Proverbs 10:27).
Exhortation to Fear the Lord
Proverbs 23:17 exhorts: “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.” The KJV renders the second half of the verse as: “…be in the fear of the Lord all day long.” This calls for a constant sustaining of the reverent God-ward disposition that should mark us out as God’s precious redeemed people.
“Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord.” (Proverbs 28:14) may serve as a blessing for Father’s Day which we celebrated last week. Juxtaposed with Proverbs 31:30, we may conclude that whether for a man or a woman, the fear of the Lord is a praiseworthy hallmark of blessedness. Let us then spur one another on to the supreme reverential regard of our Almighty Maker, Father God and thereby receive His bountiful blessings!
By Mrs Leong-Lian King Teng (YCKC Bulletin 21&22 June 2014)