“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Proverbs 9:10 & 29:25
In studying the book of Proverbs, you discover that when it comes to persons, you either fear God or you fear man! When the writer of Proverbs uses the word “fear” with respect to the Lord, the word means to fear morally or to reverence; with respect to man, it means fear or anxiety, to quake or tremble. The fear of the Lord yields a blessed state, and the fear of man yields a buffeted spirit. The fear of the Lord elevates you and the fear of man executes you. You fear one or the other!
When one has a moral reverence for God, they are blessed with an enlightened life, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). A person really knows nothing until they have come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and begun to have a reverential fear of God. It is at this time they step into the doorway of opportunity. The word “beginning” means the commencement or having the sense of opening, the original or the first time. For the first time they trade darkness for light, error for truth, blindness for enlightenment. The word “wisdom” means wise in a good sense, wit or skilful and it comes from a word that means to be wise in mind, word or act. It is only after we receive enlightenment that we know how to properly think. Our lips receive guidance as to what should and shouldn’t be said and for the first time we begin to conduct ourselves in a manner which is pleasing unto the Lord.
When one has a moral reverence for God, they are blessed with an extended life, “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened” (Proverbs 10:27). In Psalm 90 and verse 12, the psalmist prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” The psalmist was aware of the fact that it was a Sovereign God that was in control of time as well as the lives of men. God has placed a boundary on the earthly sojourn of all men. Yet, we are made aware to the fact that that time can be lengthened or shortened! Speaking of the wicked; they “shall be shortened.” The word “shortened” means to dock off, to curtail, especially to harvest as grass or grain, to be cut down. But, for those that will reverence God with their lives, the Lord “prolongeth days.” The word “prolongeth” means to add or augment, to continue to do a thing, to add or exceed further. There is the opportunity to extend our days when the Lord is given the proper preeminence in our lives!
When one has a moral reverence for God, they are blessed with an enhanced life, “the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life” (Proverbs 22:4). In this verse, the emphasis is not so much on the quantity of life as it is on the quality of life. A close study of the words, “riches”, “honour” and “life” reveal that for the individual that will honor God with his life, God will do more than extend, He will enhance life. God will sufficiently meet their daily needs as He elevates their witness of one that is righteous and of good character. In addition to enhancing their life spiritually, it is enhanced physically: God blesses them with health and physical strength. This enhanced life is quickly recognized by those that live about them!
When one has a moral reverence for God, they are blessed with an equitable life, “by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6). When a man has the proper understanding of the moral character of God and His attitude and abhorrence for sin; that individual will “depart from evil” The word “depart” means to be turned off, decline or to eschew. Writing to the believers at Galatia, Paul said, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16-21). As a spirit-filled Christian, we walk in the spirit, thus not giving the flesh the opportunity to manifest its works. The absence of these works means the absence of sin and guilt which yields a life free of chastisement. Unlike Adam after his sin, we are at liberty to enjoy uninterrupted communion and fellowship with God.
For those that “fear of the Lord”, they are blessed with an enlightened life, an extended life, an enhanced life, and an equitable life! This is not true for those that have a “fear of man.” Those that have a “fear of man” are buffeted by an evasive life. When a person has a fear of man, it yields a physical anxiety that ensnares and impedes their service for the Lord. The fear of man drove the disciples into hiding, “when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19), silenced the testimony of men, “Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:13), and it weaken their identification with the Lord, “but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus” (John 19:38). When we fear man we become evasive in our walk, witness, and work for the Lord. The social name may be peer pressure, but for the child of God, it’s the “fear of man.” It was said of Sir Henry Havelock, “He feared men so little because he feared God so much.” Whom do you fear?