security

When Fear Is Strong

Photo by  Alfonso Ninguno  on  Unsplash

In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,

and his children will have a place of refuge.

The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life

to turn ⌊one⌋ away from the grasp of death. (Proverbs 14:26-27 GW)

(Context—Proverbs 14:14-33 GW)


The fear of God is often misunderstood. Western culture typically portrays fear as a weakness. It's certainly not seen as a strength. Think of the stories in horror and sci-fi movies that feed off fear as the main attraction and intrigue to keep viewers watching.

Some relegate the fear of God to being an Old Testament concept that no longer applies to followers of Jesus under the New Covenant of grace.

After all, when we see Jesus in the Gospels, we see a man who gives Himself as a sacrifice for the salvation of humanity—a gift of perfect love, and who heals people and has concern for the outcasts.

2 different fears

It's common for people to confuse the general idea of fear with the fear of God but they're different. The fear of God is not what is more typically in mind which is a fear of anxiety.

The simplest definition of the fear of God is reverence. But the fear of God, as expressed in several places in the Bible, speaks of respect, awe, holiness, and so much more. Similar phrases are found throughout the Bible, such as godly fear or the fear of the Lord, probably more than you might think. 

In these verses in Proverbs, the fear of God is "a fountain of life," and a place of refuge and strong confidence. The fear of God as a fountain of life is based in relationship with God and a personal response to His sovereignty as Almighty God.

The "strong confidence" comes from a trust in God because of who He is—much like a young child who looks up to and trusts in the strength of a parent. How many times has a child said something like, "My dad is bigger and stronger than your dad!"

Many times in Scripture, the Lord is described as a place of refuge. This is not an actual physical place of security but a sense of safety and rest based on a trusting relationship with God. God is sovereign, He rules over all and is greater than all and He can always be trusted.

How can the fear of God be a "fountain of life?"

God is the Creator and Originator of all life. When a person has a worshipful awe and respect of God, they tap into the One who truly holds our life in His hands, as the children's song goes.

Here is something Jesus said about fearing God and anxious fear—

Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.
“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission. Every hair on your head has been counted. Don’t be afraid! You are worth more than many sparrows. (Matt 10:28-31 GW)

Jesus declares that the fear of God is stronger and more valuable than the anxious fear we may have of others. So, the fear of God—reverence for God—is a counter to anxious fear.

This is what the apostle John refers to when he says—

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

One last thought on the fear of God as a fountain of life—the book of Proverbs begins with this—

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Prov 1:7 GW)

The fear of God—or the fear of the Lord—is a loving awe and respect for Him—a perfect love that pushes out anxious fear when we choose to trust in the Lord.

(see below for more on the fear of God)

Reflection—

Which do you choose to rule over your heart and life? Anxious fear or the fear of God? Jesus declares that the fear of God is stronger and more valuable than the anxious fear we may have of others.

Prayer Focus—

If anxious fear seems to have a strong grip in your life, consciously and prayerfully remind yourself of God's greatness, His sovereignty over all, and His perfect love. Look up all the references to the fear of God (fear of the Lord) and consider these truths as you pray and entrust your life to the Lord.

©Word-Strong_2018


Here are some previous posts related to the fear of God—

The Purpose and Value of Proverbs

Honor and Respect

Taste and See

Would you like a free study guide for Proverbs?

Click Here to get a Free Study Guide for Proverbs

My Guardian

God's design for the parent-child relationship is remarkable. It's a picture and model of God's original design for the relationship between Him and humanity.

Working with abandoned babies and children gave my wife and I a much greater appreciation of this. We saw the longing in every child to belong to their own family. This is something no institution, no matter how well run, could ever fulfill.

One Day in Your Courtyards

The tent (or tabernacle) during the time of Moses, and later the temple King Solomon built, represented the dwelling place of God on earth. Moses was told to build the tent (tabernacle) according to the pattern God gave him (Heb 8:5).

When the people of Israel traveled through the desert wilderness and then into the Promised Land, the tent of God's presence was a place of strength and security for them. It reminded God's people that their God was a living God, present with them, and His protection was more powerful than any army on earth.

A Safe Way and Sweet Sleep

Photo credit: lightstock.com
Photo credit: lightstock.com

Wisdom, godly wisdom, is not just an understanding of truth. It is the fruit of a right relationship with God.

A relationship with God is not right because of moral goodness, but an honest relationship. A relationship of trust.

When a genuine relationship of trust exists between a person and God—the One, True and Living God—there are great benefits.

Scripture

By Wisdom the Lord laid the foundation of the earth. By understanding he established the heavens. By his knowledge the deep waters were divided, and the skies dropped dew.

My son, do not lose sight of these things. Use priceless wisdom and foresight. Then they will mean life for you, and they will grace your neck. Then you will go safely on your way, and you will not hurt your foot.

When you lie down, you will not be afraid. As you lie there, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the destruction of wicked people when it comes. (Proverbs 3:19-25 GW) [Context– Proverbs Chap 3]

Key phrase

When you lie down, you will not be afraid... your sleep will be sweet

Digging Deeper...

  1. What are we told about the work of wisdom in the universe? Is this speaking of creation?
  2. How does this relate to what the Bible says in Genesis 1 and John 1:1-14? How is it related to trust and faith?
  3. How are we told to use wisdom? In what way will this foresight benefit a person?
  4. What assurances are given when a person lives with a genuine trust in God?

Make it personal...

How do you see the wise handiwork of God in creation? What causes you to marvel as you view the earth, the heavens, and the universe?

What are specific ways you could apply the wisdom of Proverbs in your own life? In what way do you need to practice more foresight—thinking ahead before you act?

Have you experienced a sense of security and safety in life? If not, why not? What worries and stresses do you allow to interfere with your trust in God?

Reflection...

The Proverbs of Solomon remind us of the value of godly wisdom—a wisdom founded on trust in and respect for God. They are not magical formulas, but guidelines for daily life. Wisdom is seen as a practical basis for relationship, business, and life in this world.

The benefits of wisdom are the result of living a godly life, not a morally good life, but a life of trust and faith. Moral goodness is a benefit of godly wisdom, so also general success, health, and good relationships.

Because of this trust in God, a person will be blessed with safety and security, whether day or night. But again, these are not guarantees, but guidelines and assurances that godly wisdom is valuable.