The Fear of the Lord

Barrett Holloway

Psalms 86:11

PS. 86:11 Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

This prayer fell not from the lips of a man who had fallen into some great sin or who had drifted from fellowship with his Lord. It comes from one whom the Lord said Himself was, “a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” Acts 13:22. It is also recorded of David that he was “the man raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel.” 2 Sam. 23:1. The Lord gave this testimony of David in 1Kings 14:8 “…as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that which was right in mine eyes.” In considering the character of David and the testimony God gave him, it ought to make this prayer have greater significance with us. If a man such as David needed God to unite his heart to the fearing of His Name, how much more do I need the Lord to perform this great work for me?

Job said, “behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job 28:28. David knew this as he said in the 111 Ps. as also did his son who in Prov. 1:7 said, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Now if it is said that the fear of the Lord is wisdom and the beginning of knowledge, do not we need this fear? Can we begin to learn God apart from the fearing of His great Name? Does not this categorize all without fear as fools? Paul sums up the depravity and corruption of fallen man in Romans 3:18 as men without any fear of God before their eyes. Need we look any place further than the people around us in this land to see that the fear of God has diminished to such a point that we might also use this same description of man as did the apostle Paul?

A wise man is one whom the Lord has opened his eyes and heart to something of the majesty and glory of the everlasting, Almighty God which has left him with a holy fear and reverence. An individual might have much knowledge which is but an accumulation of facts, but no wisdom. Wisdom is the ability of one to take facts and apply them towards a good and holy end and with this we find but few in our land who have wisdom. By our vast knowledge, we might be able to place a man on the moon, take the heart from an individual and perform surgery, even cure some diseases now which in past have taken the lives of people; but without a right fear of God within our hearts and upon our lives, we are but fools. Moses said man can count stars innumerable or name the constellations but has not wisdom enough to add up the days of his short life here upon earth and so prays, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Ps. 90:12. In all the knowledge man has gained of himself and his world, it has not increased his wisdom towards eternal matters one degree. Without the fear of God, man is but a fool at best.

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then one of satan’s chief works would be to keep the sons of Adam in darkness and from truth which would bring one to this fear. The word fear carries with it several meanings but the chief one in our passage has to do with revere or a reverence for God which terminates in devotion and honor. Satan, by declaring a god other than the One described in His Holy Word, has reduced God to some helpless, finite creature like unto a Santa Claus. The one declared today from the average pulpits across our nation sits in the heavens bowing to the wishes of man and is there only for man’s carnal good and to give him a home in heaven after he has fully enjoyed his life here on Earth. This god loves everybody and desires none to go to hell but, after all, he has done all he can do for man and now it is up to the individual. Man with his power and abilities, his importance and worth has but to command this god and he bows to our every wish. The God of Scripture has been reduced in His majesty, power, glory, and His love prostituted to the point that fallen man looks upon Him with no fear or reverence. Satan has accomplished his mission in our day and those who love this lie, God has blinded their minds lest the light of the glorious person of God shine unto them and they are converted. Ps. 85:9. “Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear Him; that glory may dwell in our land.” In the first chapter of Romans, Paul shows how those who did not like to retain God in their knowledge brought Him down in their minds to something like unto a creeping insect. Though this might be the knowledge of one God has given up, it does not speak for those who have been saved by His mighty power and grace. A Christian is one who knows something of the fear of God for no man will bow to a power he does not fear. Though, this one who has been born of the Spirit of God can never fully lose all this fear, it can diminish to a point where his or her life is not producing God honoring fruits. We, being able to lose some of the fear of God because of a leaky heart, are brought to the passage in Psalms where David prayed that the Lord might unite his heart so it would fear Him as it ought. John in his first epistle speaks of perfect love casting out fear but the fear he is speaking about is an exceeding terror, alarm, or being frightened. John speaks of the fear one would have standing before his Savior as judge. If the love of God was shed abroad in the hearts of His children and their love to Him was with all their heart, mind, and soul, then this would do away with any fear they might have of the coming judgment. Reverence and an holy awe is something which will forever abide in the hearts of God’s children. The question remains though, do I fear God as I ought and to the point that David desired when he ask the Lord to unite his heart?

Have you ever met someone you had great respect for and admired for who they were or some great things they had done? Were you not very careful with the words you used and what you said? Take a little child before that same individual and they run up to the person and begin chatting as if they were on the same level. At salvation with the spirit of adoption and the love of Christ so abounding in the heart, one would run continuously and stay before their Lord. This should not be lost but as we begin to learn something of His Person it should develop within us more reverence and carefulness in our approach to Him. There seems to be an unholy familiarity with God in these days and His Name is tossed around from lips who have never really considered who it is they are speaking about. There is little regard for His Person, authority, power, holiness, or any of the other attributes. Those holy creatures that fly about the throne of God to worship and praise Him have their faces covered with one-third of their wing power. Sometimes the disciples got on this familiar ground and then they would see some mighty display of His power and immediately they would cover their nakedness and fall on their faces. That beloved disciple who leaned on the very bosom of Jesus fell at His feet as dead when Christ appeared to him on the isle of Patmos. Yes, we are bidden to come before the throne of grace with boldness but let us go there realizing who it is we are before. If the Psalmist prays for God to unite his heart to the fearing of His Name, then it must mean the heart can be divided and lose some of the fear it must have. Can we jump from a cold, ungodly world into His presence with our hearts right? Can we enter into the worship service from this condition and expect to have the Almighty bless us when we have come with only half a heart or less? God told Israel to carry to the governor the sacrifices they were bringing to Him and see if he would accept them. “If you wouldn’t do this to men of high positions on Earth, what makes you think that you can come into my presence with half-hearted devotion and sacrifices?” David ask the Lord to unite all his affections and mental facilities in one avenue, ‘that I might please Thee’. Without a united heart, we are tossed up and down in perpetual uncertainties like a small boat on the ocean in a great storm. We are constantly distracted by a multitude of ends and objects and the more spiritual the duty the greater the distractions so the more we need a united heart. The heart by nature is loosed from God and runs in a thousand different directions. It is distracted by as many objects which offer themselves to our senses, so without a united heart how can anyone ever offer to God that which He deserves?

The old man with his interest in the flesh and the world is in competition with God, so it is not enough to say we gave the Lord our hearts at salvation. There must be a continual giving of ourselves to Him and begging our Savior to keep us from running after vanities. We must keep our hearts with all diligence for out of it proceed every issue of life and it being deceitful would have us offering to God the sacrifices which are lame, blind, or with much blemish.

Shall I give less than my very all to the One who did what He did for me? Jeremiah said in chapter 48:10, “cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully…” The word deceitfully means slothful or lazily. How many times have I gone to the worship service or entered the prayer closet or study with a heart so divided that I could not render to God that which He deserves? May the Lord in His grace and mercy forgive us our slothfulness and laziness and unite our hearts to the fearing of His Name.