Learning the fear of the Lord
Psalm 34

Psalm 34:11-14 talks about learning the fear of the Lord. The inspired Psalmist says: "Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."

By looking more closely at this passage, we see there are several things that must be done to learn the fear of the Lord.

  1. First we must listen in order to gain the knowledge of the fear of the Lord. We might ask the question: To whom shall we listen?
  2. The next step is to desire life. Which kind of life is this? Is it only physical life? Many desire physical life, but they do not desire to please the Lord in any way.
  3. Later, we see that we must love many days in order to "see good." Which good is this?
  4. Afterward, we are told that we must keep our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking guile.
  5. Finally, in the last section, we are told to depart from evil, do good, seek peace and pursue it. That is quite a list of things we must do in order to learn the fear of the Lord, but we should be willing to learn how to please Him.

Why should anyone want to learn the fear of the Lord? What advantage does it have for us as Christians?

Notice what Job said about it, when he spoke with his friends. "And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:28). Here we see a strong encouragement to gain wisdom and understanding through the fear of the Lord. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Psalmist David states the same truth, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever" (Psalm 111:10).

King Solomon emphasizes this same point when he states, "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly" (Proverbs 2:1-7).

In another passage, Solomon repeats, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10). Furthermore, Solomon says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck" (Proverbs 1:7-9).

This is truly strong encouragement for us to gain the fear of the Lord. We see that it is closely intertwined with spiritual wisdom and understanding. Through this study, the deeper meaning of James 1:5 becomes clearer in our minds: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Beth Johnson

Published in The Old Paths Archive