The Fear of the Lord

Text: Proverbs 1:7

Early in the book of Proverbs, the wise man began emphasizing “the fear of the Lord” (1:7). Throughout the book, he explained why we are to fear the Lord. This lesson will consider what the wise man taught about the fear of the Lord.

What Is the Fear of the Lord?

  • Hebrew word (yirah) – fear, terror, respect, reverence (Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
  • Respect/reverence for who God is (Psalm 33:6-11)
  • Terror for what God can do (Hebrews 10:30-31) – not that we should be afraid, but we must recognize His power to destroy the wicked

What the Book of Proverbs Teaches Us About the Fear of the Lord

It Is the Beginning of Knowledge (1:7)

  • Without fear, there is no reason to listen to His word
  • Discerning/understanding the fear of the Lord leads to discovering the knowledge of God (2:5) – fearing God does not mean we will automatically understand His will, but it is the necessary starting point
  • Similar passage about wisdom (9:10; 15:33) – we gain wisdom through acquiring knowledge (1:7; 9:9-10)

It Is Chosen (1:29)

  • Wisdom shouts in the streets” for people to receive instruction from her (1:20-23) – unfortunately, those described in this passage reject wisdom (1:24-25)
  • They did not choose the fear of the Lord (1:29) – this is a choice we all must make
  • Choose to live in the fear of the Lord always rather than envying sinners (23:17) – despite the “benefits” they enjoy in sin, they have “no future” (24:19-20)

It Is Valuable (22:4)

  • If the fear of the Lord is chosen, why would we choose it? – earthly blessings (22:4; 3:16); avoiding calamity (28:14; 13:15); spiritual blessings (15:16)
  • It is far better to fear the Lord than to not fear Him (Ecclesiastes 8:12; Proverbs 23:17-18)

It Prolongs Life (10:27)

  • True in this life because we will avoid many of the consequences of sin (28:14; 13:15)
  • Also true because it leads to eternal life (10:27-28) – hope after death (14:27, 32)
  • If we want to have hope after this life, we must fear the Lord (Acts 10:34-35)

It Causes One to Turn from Evil (3:7; 16:6)

  • The reason is because we will recognize God’s ability and willingness to punish sin (1 Corinthians 10:5-11)
  • More than just turning from sin, we will hate evil (8:13) – the Lord hates sin (6:16-19); if we follow Him, we will too (Psalm 119:104)

It Causes One to Walk Uprightly (14:2)

  • Turning from evil [previous point] is about avoiding sin – this is about actively pursuing a particular course
  • We will walk in uprightness (14:2) – continue to go in a certain direction
  • This word means straightness (Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew Lexicon) – we will not deviate from the path God has given (Deuteronomy 5:32; Proverbs 4:26-27); if we fear Him, we will obey Him (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

It Causes One to Sleep Satisfied (19:23)

  • What is necessary to sleep satisfied? – clear conscience (2 Corinthians 7:10; Acts 23:1); lack of worries (Ecclesiastes 5:12; Matthew 6:31-34); protection (Proverbs 30:5; Matthew 10:28)
  • If we do not fear God, we will have guilt, our worries will be magnified, and we will be in spiritual jeopardy

It Gives One Confidence (14:26)

  • Not overconfidence or confidence in self – this is a confidence in God (Psalm 118:6)
  • As we noticed, fear leads to obedience (Ecclesiastes 12:13) – as we obey, we can have confidence (1 John 2:28-29)
  • This confidence is rooted in a trust in God’s promises (Hebrews 6:11-12, 18-19)

It Gives One Stability (24:21)

  • Instruction to fear the Lord and the king and to not associate with those who are “given to change” (24:21) – they want change for the sake of change; never content
  • The contrast is that fearing God leads to stability rather than being in a state of perpetual change
  • Those who are righteous will not be moved (12:3) – despite the storms of life (Matthew 7:24-27)

It Makes One Worthy of Praise (31:30)

  • This comes at the end of the description of the virtuous woman – she is worthy of praise because she fears the Lord (31:30); principle is true for all who will do this
  • We are to respect and imitate those who faithfully follow the Lord (Hebrews 13:7)
  • We will also be exalted by the Lord in the end if we are faithful to Him (1 Peter 5:6; 1:3-7)

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