"And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding." Job 28:28

     While the error of slavish fear toward God is condemned soundly in scripture, the Bible does teach that we should carefully maintain a healthy, respectful fear of God. This chapter in what is probably the oldest book of the Bible, the book of Job, begins with a philosophical search for the vein of precious metal, silver or gold, making it clear that the search is for something of even greater value. "Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for the gold where they fine it." In verse 7 he describes a very special way of looking at life, a very rare perspective, "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen." Then in verse 12 he defines this search, "But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?" That balanced perspective which faithfully avoids slavish fear, yet with equal faithfulness, maintains a sense of reverence and respect for God is truly a rare commodity. In Ecclesiastes 7:16 we are warned to "Be no righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldst thou destroy thyself?" Extremes are easy ditches to fall into.

     Today, people are flocking to gurus, to all kinds of seminars, and paying large sums for what they perceive to be wisdom. The pulpit is ignored as a potential source of wisdom because it has surrendered to slavish fear. Few pulpits are not marked by an enslaving "fear of hell message" to motivate sinners into their decision for Christ. Frequently, pulpits are also characterized by shallow, unbiblical emotion which offers no link with the fear of God. The Bible is full of deep, driving emotions, and we desperately need to experience those emotions, but we do not need an emotional arousal for the sake of demonstrating emotion. Reverential fear and respect for the person of God is the crying need of our day in the pulpit and in the pew!

     Rarer by far than the vein of gold within the earth is the path where wisdom is to be found. The message of God to man in the oldest book he inspired for us is this, "The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom." In almost identical form these words appear in Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7, and Proverbs 9:10. If God repeated it four times, it must be important! This fear is not described as enslaving, but as liberating and enlightening. It is the source of wisdom and knowledge in the noblest sense of those traits. The man who thinks he knows everything and refuses to learn from others is a fool. So is the man who knows he does not know and is not willing to learn. The only man who has hope is the man who goes to god and to God's source of knowledge for his decisions and direction in life. With this rare, precious commodity the pauper is rich, and without it the king is destitute!

     We tend to seek the complicated, sophisticated ideas. we want the elite concepts that distinguish us in the eyes of perishing man. Rare indeed is the man who is offered the spotlight before his fellowman and refuses it for the honor of God. True wisdom is really quite simple and uncomplicated. In the context of Solomon's dissertation on the fear of God and wisdom we find these words.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." Proverbs 3:5-10

     There is nothing abstract and eastern here, nor is there anything mystical and Egyptian. It is beautifully simple. Trust God more than anything, even your own mind, acknowledge him in all of life's activities, don't be self-centered and conceited, make God first in your life and he will fill your life with his blessings. Wow! What a promise! Don't forget, this wisdom is the fruit of the proper, biblical fear of God.

     The New Testament follows the same theme.

"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." James 3:13-17

     The presence of wisdom reflects the true fear of God Notice the characteristics of this wisdom. Pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, sincere and unhypocritical. Where is the deep philosophy here? Where is the mysticism? The fear of God which the Bible teaches is no more than a sincere, respectful, compliant relationship with God.

Elder Joe Holder
Little Zion Primitive Baptist Church
16434 Woodruff
Bellflower, California

Fear: Part 4 - Wise Fear
Gospel Gleanings
Volume 1, Number 47
December 28, 1986

Submitted by Sister Martha Pitney
Of Friendship PBC in Denver

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