Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” – Proverbs 1:29-33 ESV
Yesterday, we saw the warning in the choosing to hate knowledge. Today, we continue through Proverbs 1:29.
They Did Not Choose Fear of the Lord
Earlier in Proverbs 1, it says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (v. 7). We can know that the entire knowledge block we have is because we aren’t fearing the Lord. What does it mean to fear the Lord? How do we know if we’re doing it?
The fear of the Lord is often described as reverential awe or something along those lines. This is true, of course, but I’d like to dig in a bit and see if there’s a practical application of the fear of God we can lean on.
Psychology Today says, “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn’t feel it, we couldn’t protect ourselves from legitimate threats.” We know that God is not someone we should be terrified of. There are so many scriptures that talk about God’s love and how much He wants to be with us and comfort us. Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Therefore, we know that the fear of God isn’t something that would cause us to pull away from God.
The Psychology Today definition points us to an interesting truth about fear: it is a vital response. In other words, we can’t do without it. If we didn’t have fear, most of the human race would have died off a long time ago due to not taking risks seriously. That cliff? Yeah, it’s along drop, so be afraid of it. Not afraid of the drop? More likely than not, you’ll get too close. This is what fear is for: making sure that what we need to be aware of to survive is clearly in focus.
Let’s apply that idea to the fear of the Lord. Fearing the Lord should be creating a response in us that is vital to staying connected to Him. There should be a sense of urgency in being aware of Him. When we’re seeking Him and keeping fear of Him foremost, we are keeping what’s important to know Him clearly in focus.
To see what not fearing the Lord would be then, we can flip the scenario. If you are complacent about your relationship with Him, or if you don’t know what’s important in getting to know Him, you aren’t feeling the fear of the Lord. You aren’t finding in yourself the vital response to His presence that motivates you seek Him out. What do you need to survive, not just on this earth, but more importantly, in the next life?
Verse 29 tells us one other important things about the fear of the Lord: we can choose it. It’s not something that some people are born with and others aren’t. It’s not something that we get handed to us if we’re lucky. We can choose to keep this need for nearness as a focus. The fear of the Lord is something to be cultivated and emphasized.[This is part 2 of a 4 part series. The first part can be found here.]