Volume. XXXIV, No. 14
Sunday, 06 October 2019

From the Pastor’s Heart: The Fear of God and Biblical Wisdom – Part 1

Though we often talk about the fear of the Lord, it is not a simple study if we attempt to define it with a few words or concepts.  In order to understand it better, I will begin with what it does not mean.  The fear of the Lord is not a blind, gloomy, passive religious emotion produced by the idea of an absolute and horrible deity which is utterly cold and negative toward human nature and needs.  The word, “fear,” in general gives us a sense of horror.  However, the fear of the Lord does not refer to a dull but terrified religious emotion toward God. 

Know God in order to fear Him

Instead, more positively, it is, as Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”  In this verse, we can find a beautiful Hebraic parallelism.  “The holy” in the latter half of the verse is in plural form in Hebrew language.  It does not mean that the phrase talks about holy ones, but the fullness of majesty, referring to our Holy God.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of God is our understanding.  In this parallelism, we can find a simple but a significant truth, that is, the fear of the Lord comes from the knowledge of Him.  The proper attitude toward our God (the fear of God) comes from our proper knowledge of Him.  Thus, how much we fear of God depends on how much and how well we know of Him.  It is no wonder that the fools say in their hearts that there is no God. 

Be holy in order to fear Him

It is worth noting that God is mentioned as the holy One, which indicates His separateness from all unclean things and beings.  Therefore, the sanctified ones, not the fools, are the people who have the true knowledge of Him, and thus fear of Him.  It is what Proverbs 8:13 says, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”  The ones who fear the most Holy One are the ones who have desire to be holy. 

Depend on God in order to fear Him

The starting point of the fear of the Lord is not the autonomy of the reason and will.  Rather, it is a spirit of dependence on God as Proverbs 3:6 says, “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  This teaching is well connected to what Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”  Proverbs 3:5 says the same thing.  “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  Solomon is pleading with us not to be foolish in Proverbs 3:7, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” 

To the contrary to the foolish, the wise are always conscious of their status before God.  Proverbs 28:14 says, “Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.”  The ones who fear the Lord are the happy ones because they are led by the Spirit of God to do so.  And they obey the leading of the Holy Spirit.  The fear of the Lord is a fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, only the believers of God can have this trait.  Isaiah 11:1-2 says, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”  It is a messianic passage, too.  Hence, we find threefold description of the Holy Spirit: (1) the spirit of wisdom and understanding, (2) the spirit of counsel and might, and (3) the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.  Therefore, the fear of the Lord is spiritual, not moral or physical only. 

Know what happens if there is no fear of God

We can find an example of human folly without the fear of the Lord.  In 1942, A unanimous Court in America discussed the constitutional rights of speech and the expression of individuals.  There was a case called Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire.  The Supreme court said that “prohibiting the lewd and obscene, the profane the libelous, and the insulting or ‘fighting words’ had ‘never been thought to raise any constitutional problem’ because ‘such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality’” (Bork, 61).  I am not sure what kind of order and morality this court statement refers to.  Eventually, today there is no way to control the torrent of pornography.  So-called scholars are ready to testify that the purest pornography is actually a profound parable about the horrors of capitalism or the repressiveness of the bourgeois state, or that, in any event, the photography or the prose has artistic value.

Classical moral relativism will say, “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”  In 1972, there were cases, Rosenfeld v. New Jersey, Lewis v. New Orleans, and Brown v. Oklahoma.  “Rosenfeld addressed a school board meeting of about 150 people, including about forty children, and on four occasions used the adjective ‘…… [too bad to be mentioned]’ to describe the teachers, the school board, the town, and the United States.  Lewis shouted the same epithet at police officers who were arresting her son.  Brown used the same language in a meeting in a university chapel.  None of the convictions-for disorderly conduct, breach of the peace, and use of obscene language in a public place-were allowed to stand” (Bork, 62). 

“Christopher Lasch, who was by no means a conservative, asked: ‘What accounts for [our society’s] wholesale defection from the standards of personal conduct-civility, industry, self-restraint-that were once considered indispensable to democracy?’  He answered that a major reason is the ‘gradual decay of religion.’  Our liberal elites, whose ‘attitude to religion,’ Lasch said, ‘ranges from indifference to active hostility,’ have succeeded in removing religion from public recognition and debate [The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy in America, New York: W. W. Norton, 1995, p. 205].  Indeed, it could be added that the Court has almost succeeded in establishing a new religion: secular humanism.  That is what the intelligentsia want, it is what they are getting, and we may all be the worse for it” (Bork, 69).

I’ll continue next week.


Your Pastor

More Lively Hope



  • Welcome to our pulpit: Rev William Yap.
  • Deepest condolences to Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee & family on the homegoing of Bro Lucas Lee.
  • Special thanks to all who came to help at Holiday Bible Club.
  • Q & A Session regarding Church extension/ renovations will be held next Lord’s Day. All members are encouraged to attend.
  • Adult & Junior Daily Manna (Oct-Dec) available in the Foyer. Gold coin donation.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: VFG. Next week: AFG.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily providence, protection & guidance.
  • Holiday Bible Club – Smooth running, good attendance & many helpers. Salvation & spiritual growth of all children who attended.
  • Bro Andrew Roberts & family & ministry.
  • Journey mercies: Rev Tracy & Sis Debbi Minnick (QLD); Bro Andrew Roberts & family (Bendigo); interstate campers (Adl); others who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and others in affliction.
  • God’s comfort for Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee & family as they grieve the homegoing of Bro Lucas Lee.
  • Transfer of membership – Bro Dwight Lim.
  • Missions – Rev Sun Sokha & ministry (Phnom Penh).
  • IF Retreat: speaker; organisers, all helpers & participants.
  • Pulpit Committee: finding a suitable pastor for our church.
  • Journey mercies: Rev William Yap (S’pore); interstate campers (WA); others who are travelling.






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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041