A Good Fear
Over the next month, Time With God will be studying the book of Proverbs. Although we will read an entire chapter each day, the study questions in Digging Deeper will focus on select verses addressing a specific topic.
Growing up in church, I always knew you should fear the Lord. However, I had no idea what that really meant. I knew the words. I knew it meant that you dressed up on Sundays. And I knew it would be bad if you didn’t fear him, but I didn’t really understand what that meant in my day-to-day life. It was lost somewhere with the other aspects of Christian vernacular, like “sanctification” and “hermeneutics,” that were above my head as a child, and even well into my adult life.
- How would you define the fear of the Lord?
Read the Word
Proverbs 14 (ESV)
14:1 The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down.
2 Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.
3 By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back,
but the lips of the wise will preserve them.
4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean,
but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
5 A faithful witness does not lie,
but a false witness breathes out lies.
6 A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain,
but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
7 Leave the presence of a fool,
for there you do not meet words of knowledge.
8 The wisdom of the prudent is to discern his way,
but the folly of fools is deceiving.
9 Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.
10 The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
11 The house of the wicked will be destroyed,
but the tent of the upright will flourish.
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
13 Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and the end of joy may be grief.
14 The backslider in heart will be filled with the fruit of his ways,
and a good man will be filled with the fruit of his ways.
15 The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
16 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
17 A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.
18 The simple inherit folly,
but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
19 The evil bow down before the good,
the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
20 The poor is disliked even by his neighbor,
but the rich has many friends.
21 Whoever despises his neighbor is a sinner,
but blessed is he who is generous to the poor.
22 Do they not go astray who devise evil?
Those who devise good meet steadfast love and faithfulness.
23 In all toil there is profit,
but mere talk tends only to poverty.
24 The crown of the wise is their wealth,
but the folly of fools brings folly.
25 A truthful witness saves lives,
but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
26 In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.
27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,
that one may turn away from the snares of death.
28 In a multitude of people is the glory of a king,
but without people a prince is ruined.
29 Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding,
but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
30 A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh,
but envy makes the bones rot.
31 Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker,
but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
32 The wicked is overthrown through his evildoing,
but the righteous finds refuge in his death.
33 Wisdom rests in the heart of a man of understanding,
but it makes itself known even in the midst of fools.
34 Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a reproach to any people.
35 A servant who deals wisely has the king's favor,
but his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.
(Today’s verses focus on verses 2, 14-15, and 26-27.)
- Verses 2, 26, and 27 all mention the fear of the Lord. What attributes or outcomes of fearing the Lord are noted in these verses?
- Looking at verse 27, what is the result of not fearing the Lord?
- In what way do we influence the destination of our own lives (vs. 15)? What is the connection between having a fear of the Lord and giving thought to our choices?
- Verse 14 says we will see the fruit of our ways. What fruit are you producing?
- After having read this group of proverbs, has your definition of the fear of the Lord changed? How can you incorporate a more reverent spirit into your relationship with the Lord and your daily life?
Respond to God
As I’ve grown as a Christian, both in my personal relationship and my head knowledge, I feel fearing the Lord is a natural reaction to learning more about who he really is. When you stop to fathom the depths of his love, his divinity, and his omniscience, it naturally causes a reverence, or fear of the Lord.
For me, the key to living in fear of the Lord is slowing down to really think about who he is and what he has done. When life gets carried away, it’s easy for me to go to God in expectation rather than reverence. What about you?
- Prayerfully set aside your expectations of God. Then, praise him for who he is and what he has done in your life.
- Ask him to guide you today, so that you will give thought to your steps.