Monday, November 8, 2004

The Fear of the LORD: Experiencing God's Fullness

An oracle within my heart
  concerning the transgression of the wicked:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
(Psalm 36:1)
David the Shepherd King is here contrasting the wickedness of men with the faithfulness of God. It is an implicit study in the fear of the Lord.

The wicked know nothing of the fear of the LORD. Consequently, they think that everything is about them. They flatter themselves in their own eyes. They think that their exercises of iniquity and hate demonstrate the freedom of their will, little realizing that they are actually ensnared by those very things. They speak wickedness and lies because that is what is in their heart in abundance. They sow deceit and thereby become ultra-susceptible to being deceived. They have long ago ceased to be wise and to do good. In fact, they abhor good rather than evil. They have set a course for their lives that can only end in destruction. (Psalm 36:2-4).

Now listen as David talks about the fear of the Lord. He does not define it, he expresses it. We see this even in the inscription to this psalm. “A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD.” It is easy to be a servant when the Lord is your Shepherd.

Now, the fear of the LORD is not about terror. It is about going after God with everything that is in us. It is about revering His name. It is about following after Him, seeing His heart and walking in His ways. It is recognizing that His love is everlasting and His favor is the pathway to blessing. It is welcoming His revelation. It is entrusting ourselves completely into His hands.

And so David displays the fear of the LORD when he writes,
Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
  Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
  Your judgments are a great deep;
O LORD, You preserve man and beast. (vv. 5-6)
You see, it is all about God — His mercy, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His judgments. Our minds were made to express His thoughts. Our emotions were made to express His heart. Our will was made to communicate His good will.

Before Christ, we were disconnected from God, so we tried to think our own thoughts, vent our own emotions and enact our own wills. We had no fear of the LORD. But all those who have been born again — born from above by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ — are reconnected to the one true source. David describes the magnificent results of being reconnected to God:
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
  Therefore the children of men put their trust
  under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
  And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
  In Your light we see light. (vv. 7-9)
Abundantly satisfied. The experience of God’s fullness. Drinking from the river of His pleasures. A fountain of life. Light that vanquishes all darkness. Indeed, how precious is the lovingkindness of the Lord.

Those who fear the Lord need not fear anything else. But those who do not fear the Lord will live in the fear of everything else.