The Fear of the Lord Is the Beginning of Wisdom

113 Samek—I hate the double-minded, but I love Your law. 114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word. 115 Depart from me, you evildoers, for I will keep the commandments of my God! 116 Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; and do not let me be ashamed of my hope. 117 Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe Your statutes continually. 118 You reject all those who stray from Your statutes, for their deceit is falsehood. 119 You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross; therefore I love your testimonies. 120 My flesh trembles for fear of You, and I am afraid of Your judgments. —Psalm 119:113-120

What does it mean to be double minded? In our verses today, it indicates skepticism or half-heartedness. James uses the word in his epistle: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (Jas 1:5-8). It makes for unstable thinking.

Proverbs 23:7 warns: “As a man thinks in his heart so he is.” Our psalmist hates the instability that doubt can bring into life, so to keep himself on the right path, he focuses on loving the law, or the Word. The Word hides and shields him, giving him hope, he keeps God’s commandments, and he is upheld and lives unashamed of his hope.

Have you ever felt confused or disappointed by the direction in which you felt that God was leading you? During those times, it’s imperative that we hold onto the Word, because the Word will hold you up even as God is rejecting those who stray from His statutes. When that happens, by their own doing, they are left facing the enemy alone.

Since God removes the wicked from the earth like dross, according to our verses above, even as the psalmist trembles in fear of God’s righteous judgments, he continues to love the Lord’s testimonies. We read in the Book of Acts, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Acts 9:31). Yes, today we should fear the righteous judgment of God. We should fear going to hell, and we should long for God to deliver us by the shed blood of Jesus upon the cross, which He has already done for those who have put their faith and trust in Him. And He also admonishes us again to watch our steps in this way: the Word exposes all of the enemy’s tactics and pitfalls. It’s much like a map through the minefield of life.

In John we read, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). That’s all that Satan wants to do: he wants to steal the Word from our hearts, kill our hope by leading us into minimization of God’s statutes, and steal our stability by means of planting doubt and encouraging divided thinking.

God tells us what Satan is up to and how to fight it. We read, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” (Eph 6:14-16).

Satan hates it when we fear the Lord. He never feared God, and it cost him everything. He thought that he could replace God. He’ll end up eternally in the Lake of Fire—and his plan is to take as many of us as he possibly can with him. God’s plan is different. He warns us to walk carefully, to love His testimonies, and to reject the wicked. Why? Because His plan leads right on into eternity. The choice is not difficult.

Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.

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BARRY STAGNER

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