HOW Do We Fear The Lord? What Does it Look Like to Fear the Lord? #116
Happy Thursday to you, friends! Today was a beautiful and warm day in central California, and I think that has many people – including my kids – antsy for a return to regular life. I am rooting for that to be sooner, rather than later, but fully expect it to be later rather than sooner. Alas. On a walk today with my wife, she asked me how much longer I thought the quarantine and shut down would last. I obviously have no idea, but the answer I gave her kind of came out of nowhere, and went something like this, “Until the people of God begin to walk in the fear of the Lord again.” I didn’t really intend for that kind of Bible-juke to come out, but there you go. I do believe there is some truth to the statement, especially after reading Leviticus 26 yesterday. I don’t know about you, but that passage rattled me.
Today’s Bible readings are from Leviticus 27, Psalms 34, Ecclesiastes 10 and Titus 2. A few episodes ago, we talked about the fear of the Lord. Perhaps the main thing we saw in that episode is that the Bible discusses the fear of the Lord frequently, and points to walking in the fear of the Lord as absolutely crucial to prospering, protection, and persevering in the faith. It will be a theme we return to fairly regularly, much like the resurrection, the Gospel, spiritual gifts, repentance, and others. Today we are going to get some practical advice from the Psalms that gives us directions on HOW to fear the Lord – what it looks like when we fear the Lord. Let’s go read Psalms 34 and then come back and discuss it.
First, we see the beautiful promise of God to be free from fear:
I sought the Lord, and he answered mePsalm 34:4-7
and rescued me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant with joy;
their faces will never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him from all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and rescues them.
And then we see the how-to of God-fearing:
Come, children, listen to me;Psalms 34:11-18
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is someone who desires life,
loving a long life to enjoy what is good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from deceitful speech.
14 Turn away from evil and do what is good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are open to their cry for help.
16 The face of the Lord is set
against those who do what is evil,
to remove all memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
and rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
he saves those crushed in spirit.
How do you walk in the fear of the Lord? It’s pretty simple:
- Keep your tongue from evil. The word for ‘evil’ in Hebrew is ‘רַע raʻ, rah’ it means the opposite of good – hurtful, malicious, wicked – against the ways of God. This is a fairly blanket term and would include pretty much anything that God’s Word forbids – swearing, complaining, attacking, grumbling, tearing down, course and crude joking, hate speech, etc.
2. Keep your lips from deceitful speech. This doesn’t merely include lying, but also deceit, guile and deception. In other words, to walk in the fear of God, you should be straightforward and honest in your words.
3. Turn away from evil. This is another way of saying repent – turn away from evil deeds and actions and walk in God’s ways.
4. Seek AND pursue peace. This double command seems to indicate an impassioned pursuit of peace, not just a half-hearted attempt at it. A person of God will not only desire to be peaceful, but will seek and PURSUE IT.
What are the promises of walking in this way? Myriad. Long life and blessing. The protection of God. The Angel of the Lord camping around you. Rescue from adversaries and the refuge of the Lord. This is the way, walk in it!
Let’s close with a brief word from brother Spurgeon:
He who can manage his tongue can manage his whole body; for the tongue is the rudder of the ship, and if that be properly held, the vessel will be rightly steered. If thou wouldst escape the quicksands and the rocks, look well to thy tongue; keep it from evil, that it speak neither blasphemy against God nor slander against thy fellow-men; and keep thy lips from guile, that is, from deceit, from double meanings, from saying one thing and meaning another, or making other people think that you mean another,—an art all too well understood in these days. God make us plain-speaking men, who say what we mean, and mean what we say! When, by the grace of God, we are taught to do this, we have learned a good lesson.C. H. Spurgeon, “The Great Change,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 42 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896), 347.