Tuesday, October 22, 2019

To Fear is to Obey

"Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil" (Proverbs 3:7).

“The fear of the LORD” (1:7)—the theme of Proverbs—has nearly as many interpretations as interpreters. The best way to understand it is to look at another passage that addresses our attitude toward the Word of God.

Proverbs 3:1–12 describes our attitude toward this book: we are to cherish it (3:1–3) and obey it (3:5–6, 11–12).

Since our ability to cope with life and its situations is invariably warped by the consequences of the Fall, we often make bad decisions and fail to respond wisely to whatever faces us. We, therefore, need guidance in order to live wisely. Since God created the universe with Wisdom “at His side” (8:30), the wisdom of the proverbs is based on truths built into time and space at Creation—far deeper than we can ever discover by our own thought. According to Proverbs 3:1–12, as we submit our own wisdom and understanding to God’s (3:5–6a), our lives will increasingly conform to the laws which govern the world, and thus be “straightened out” (3:6b).

This also helps us understand how to acknowledge Him in all our ways (3:6a). To acknowledge God in our lives is to obey the wisdom and knowledge that He reveals in the proverbs.

We may read a proverb and be tempted to think that it does not really apply to us because our situation is different, or we may not understand how it could possibly be right. These verses warn us against this dangerous attitude of leaning on our own understanding and instead admonish us to fear the Lord and live by His wisdom.

Proverbs 3:4 and 7–10 give three examples of the blessings of this submission: favor with God and others (3:4), health and refreshment (3:7–8), satisfaction of our needs (3:9–10). Proverbs 3:11–12 then warns us that we will be disciplined and rebuked by what we read. When the Lord uses a proverb to teach us, we are not to reject or despise that correction (contrast this attitude with that of 3:1–3); we are instead to see in its rebuke the loving discipline of our heavenly Father.

When you read Proverbs, your heart should be humble—God is revealing how to order your life according to eternal truths. As you continue to read and study Proverbs this week, ask God for deeper understanding as to how you should fear and acknowledge Him in all your ways. Seek wisdom with the same fervency that characterizes a man’s quest for silver or gold (Proverbs 8:10–11).