The Lord Blesses Those Who Fear Him
"O taste and see that the Lord is good… O fear the Lord, you His saints; for to those who fear Him, there is no want. …They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing"(Psa. 34:8-10).
Throughout God’s Word we are called to fear the Lord. For example, Solomon concludes that the whole duty of man is to "fear God and keep His commandments" (Eccl. 12:13). The early believers walked in the fear of the Lord (Acts 9:31), and the Apostle Peter exhorts us to live our lives in the fear of God (1 Pet. 1:17; 2:17). Likewise, the Apostle Paul admonishes us to "be subject to one another in the fear of Christ" (Eph. 5:21) and to "work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).
Though one aspect of fearing the Lord is to be afraid of Him and His punishment (Luke 12:5; Heb. 10:26-31; 1 John 4:18), the call to fear the Lord is primarily in the sense of offering to Him the level of respect and honor that is due Him. As one writer puts it, the fear of the Lord is "the reverence and awe felt by those who know and love Him."
God Is Worthy to Be Feared
The Lord is obviously worthy of all the reverence, awe and honor we can offer to Him. "There is none like Thee, O Lord; Thou art great, and great is Thy name in might. Who would not fear Thee, O King of the nations? Indeed it is Thy due!" (Jer. 10:6-7). He is "the true God…the living God and the everlasting King" (Jer. 10:10), the Creator and Sustainer of life (Rev. 14:7; Jer. 5:24). His works are great and marvelous, and His ways are righteous and true (Rev. 15:3-4). He is the "great King over all the earth" (Psa. 47:2), and His power is unlimited. He is "majestic in holiness" and "awesome [fearful] in praises" (Ex. 15:11). He is full of glory, goodness, mercy and truth.
And, perhaps most amazing of all, is His great love for us. Out of that love He gave His only begotten Son and redeemed us with His precious blood (1 Pet. 1:18-19). His love and mercy extend to the heavens, His faithfulness reaches to the skies and His righteousness is like the mountains (Psa. 36:5-6).
To fear Him is to recognize all of His glorious attributes and ways, and to respond accordingly. To fear Him is to honor Him alone as God, to stand in awe of Him, to be fully devoted to Him, to delight in Him and His commandments, to love Him with heart and soul, to serve Him and to walk in His ways. Thus, the Lord spoke through Moses, "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes…" (Deut. 10:12-13).
Righteousness and Truth
To fear Him is to love what He loves, and hate what He hates; to embrace what He regards as good, and to forsake what He regards as evil. Those who fear Him do what is right in His sight, and live in clear distinction to the ways of the world, having no partnership with unrighteousness, darkness or idolatry (Acts 10:35; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). They "cleanse [themselves] from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor. 7:1). They worship with reverence and awe the One who is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:28-29).
Those who fear the Lord do not base their lives on the opinions of man, but upon the Word of God. They are people who abide by God’s standard of truth (Ex. 18:21; Josh. 24:14; Psa. 86:11). They are not wise in their own eyes (Prov. 3:7), but they humble themselves before the Lord and walk in His ways. With sincerity of heart they seek to do all things as unto the Lord rather than for men (Col. 3:22-24).
Kindness Toward Others
Those who fear the Lord treat others with respect, fairness and kindness. "So you shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God…" (Lev. 25:17; cf. Deut. 10:17-21). Out of reverence for the Lord, His people do not oppress or rob others, withhold the wages of workers, bring any harm to the physically impaired, or show partiality to others because of economic standing (Lev. 19:13-15). They honor the aged and show concern for aliens (Lev. 19:32-34). They do not exploit the vulnerable, but care for them in their distress (Deut. 24:17-22; 25:17-18; Matt. 25:35-40; Jas. 1:27). They do not take advantage of those who borrow from them (Neh. 5:7-12), nor do they take part in any injustice toward others for financial gain (2 Chron. 19:7-9). They do not use their position in life to burden or take advantage of others (Neh. 5:15).
No Fear of God Before Their Eyes
How different this is from the world’s ways! We live in a day when God is not feared and there is great exploitation of people. All of this deeply grieves the Lord and ultimately leads to judgment: "‘Then I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against…those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me,’ says the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 3:5).
We also live in a day when sin is rampant in the world and in the church because there is no fear of God before the eyes of the ungodly (Psa. 36:1-4; Rom. 3:10-18). Many people distort the doctrines of mercy and grace and do not take God’s holiness seriously. The Apostle Paul, however, exhorts those who have received mercy to not be conceited but to fear (Rom. 11:20), and to consider both "the kindness and severity of God" (Rom. 11:22). Though the Lord is merciful and slow to anger, when He does become angry, it is of great consequence. "Thou, even Thou, art to be feared; and who may stand in Thy presence when once Thou art angry? Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, when God arose to judgment…" (Psa. 76:7-9).
Part of God’s judgment on sin is its own consequences: "‘Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you; know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God, and the dread of Me is not in you,’ declares the Lord God of hosts" (Jer. 2:19). Are we not seeing the terrible effects of evil and exploitation all around us?
The Lord’s Abundant Blessings
Nevertheless, there is great hope. Personal and corporate revival can yet come if individuals, families and churches will respond to the Lord with reverent fear. In the midst of all of today’s troubles, God is longing to bless people, not condemn them. Listen to the desire of His heart: "Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!" (Deut. 5:29).
Take to heart the hope of revival and blessing in this prayer: "Wilt Thou not Thyself revive us again, that Thy people may rejoice in Thee? Show us Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation. I will hear what God the Lord will say; for He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. …Indeed, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its produce" (Psa. 85:6-12).
God wants His people to fear Him so that the blessings of heaven may flow toward them and through them to others. Consider, for example, how the Lord sent revival and stirred hearts in Haggai’s day when the people repented of their complacency and "showed reverence for the Lord" (see Haggai 1:3-14). Or, in the day of Nehemiah, when the Lord honored the prayer of those who delighted in the fear of the name of the Lord (Neh. 1:11), and in response He gave favor and success so that broken walls were rebuilt, God’s Word was restored, and the people were revived. Or take to heart the hope in Habakkuk’s prayer: "Lord, I have heard the report about Thee and I fear. O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy" (Hab. 3:2).
Along with revival and restoration, the Lord gives many other blessings to those who fear Him. For example, He hears their prayers (Psa. 145:19; Acts 10:1-4), meets their needs (Psa. 34:9-10), delivers them (Psa. 33:18-19), heals them (Prov. 3:7-8; Mal. 4:2), blesses their families (Psa. 128), pours out compassion and righteousness upon them (Psa. 103:11-17), gives them life (Prov. 14:26-27) and grants them a future and hope (Prov. 23:17-18).
The Lord is faithful to those who fear Him! He is full of goodness, and as you draw nearer to Him in reverence and awe, you can fully expect His abundant blessings to flow from Him toward you.
In reverent fear of Him, will you shake off any complacency and forsake any worldliness and sin in your life? Will you set your heart more fully toward Him, and renew your love and obedience to Him? Will you seek Him more faithfully through His Word and through prayer? Will you serve Him in sincerity and truth and put away any idolatry? Will you treat others as He desires? Will you live for His glory alone?
"How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways" (Psa. 128:1).
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