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Fearing God

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Psalm 19:9a


The fear of the Lord may best be described in the lives of two shepherd boys. Both knew only nomadic life. Following the pasture. Feeding the sheep. Leading the flock. Protecting the weak.


It was a quiet and demanding sort of life. Cold and damp nights on the ground. Long and hot days in the sun. Then came the big change. For one it was the pit, and then the test. For the other it was the palace and then the test. Both were tested on the fear of the Lord. One passed with flying colors. The other crashed and burned. The first met Mrs. Potiphar and said no. The second met Mrs. Uriah the Hittite and said yes.


What was the difference between Joseph and David? Joseph feared the Lord anywhere, anytime and in anything. Startled by the rapid culture shock of being sped (actually walking about 30 days from Dothan to Egypt) to the most advanced civilization of the day. He is confronted with new rules, new dress, new language, new responsibilities. But it waas the old habits he took with him. They proved to be good ones. He cultivated the awareness of God’s presence. He saw God looking at him. He had been aware of that in Palestine. He was equally aware in Egypt.


A crisis does not make a man or woman, it only reveals what they have all the time been becoming. Joseph was becoming a young man who feared God. What did that mean? Well Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (KJV)   HIS CLEAN FEAR ENDURES  (v. 9a) = The Word of God is THE DIVINE CONDITION: The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever. This is fearing God, lovingly acknowledging by my actions God sees me. The fear of the Lord kept Joseph pure even in the days of his youth when it can be so hard. God had big plans for him. He might have forfeited it all for a moment of fun. But the fear of the Lord kept him.


What is this fear of the Lord about for us this morning ?  In the New Testament it is commanded 1 Peter 2:17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (NKJV)


When should a person fear God?

    1. first of all – when they come to realize his omnipresence as joseph did! Genesis 39:8-9 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (NKJV)
    2. when they come to realize his omnipotence as elijah did! 1 Kings 19:11-14 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 And he said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.” (NKJV)
    3. when they come to realize his omniscience as elisha’s servant did! 2 Kings 6:9-17 And the man of God sent to the king of Israel, saying, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are coming down there.” 10 Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told him. Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice. 11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?” 12 And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” So he said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and get him.” And it was told him, saying, “Surely he is in Dothan.” 14 Therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. 15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (NKJV)
    4. when they come to realize his holiness as Isaiah did! Isaiah 6:1-5 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts.” (NKJV)
    5. when they come to realize his sovereignty as nebuchadnezzar did! Daniel 4:32-37 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” 33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?” At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down. (NKJV)


Why should The fear of the Lord Motivates us to Holy Living? because we see:

    1. God’s greatness Deuteronomy 10:14 “Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it. 17 “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. (NKJV); Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power Not one of them is missing. (NASB)
    2. God’s awesome wonders Joshua 4:23-24 “for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, 24 “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” (NKJV)
    3. God’s goodness 1 Samuel 12:24 “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. (NKJV)
    4. God’s mercy Psalm 130:4 But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared. (NKJV)
    5. God’s wrath Revelation 14:7 saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (NKJV)
    6. God’s holiness Revelation 15:4 Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” (NKJV)

How is The fear of the Lord presented in the scriptures?

    1. as a purifying power Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, (NKJV)
    2. as an enduring power Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;  (NKJV)
    3. as a motivating power Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever. (NKJV)
    4. as a separating power Proverbs 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. (NIV)
    5. as an invigorating power Proverbs 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. (NIV)
    6. as an enriching power Isaiah 33:6 He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure. (NIV)
    7. as an investing power Hebrews 12:28     Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, (NIV)
  1. Now, back to the text. Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. (NKJV)
    1. The Title:
      1. Here the word of God is called “the fear of the Lord”. Thus stressing the condition of those who heed. Where are we? We have already seen:
      2. HIS PERFECT LAW RESTORES (v. 7a) = The Word of God is THE DIVINE TEACHER: The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:  God’s truth that totally transforms, touching all of life, turning the whole person to God. so the (divine teacher) word teaches the truth of god
      3. HIS SURE TESTIMONY MAKES WISE (v. 7b) = The Word of God is THE DIVINE WITNESS: 9 the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. God’s testimony absolutely trustworthy making us skilled in the art of holy living. so the (divine teacher) word teaches the truth of god and (the divine witness) testifies the way of god.
      4. HIS RIGHT STATUTES REJOICES (v. 8a) = The Word of God is THE DIVINE DIRECTIONS: The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart. God’s statutes giving directions to only secure  place in the universe, causing great joy because we know what is absolutely right. so the (divine teacher) word teaches the truth of god and (the divine witness) testifies the way of god and  (the divine directions) turn the walk to god
      5. HIS PURE COMMANDMENTS ENLIGHTENS (v. 8b) = The Word of God is THE DIVINE DECREES: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.  God’s commands giving a clear portrait of  God’s non-optional absolutes, without any flaw bringing light on every area. . so the (divine teacher) word teaches the truth of god and (the divine witness) testifies the way of god and  (the divine directions) turn the walk to god and (the divine decreees) tie us to the will of god.
      6. HIS CLEAN FEAR ENDURES (v. 9a) = The Word of God is the Divine Conditions (eternal life) THE DIVINE CONDITION: The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever. This is fearing God, lovingly acknowledging by my actions God sees me
    2. The Attribute:
      1. “Clean” or with no foul spot, untainted, unstained absence inperfections Thus stressing the character of God’s work of producing holiness in us! What is this divine condition of fearing the Lord ? What does it mean to God ? How does He describe it in His Word[1] ? if WORLDLINESS IS ACTING LIKE A PAGAN, then holiness is acting like a saint!
      2. the divine condition (holiness) is realizing God’s eternal plan. Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, (NKJV). “Remember that holiness was God’s purpose for all his people when he planned their salvation”.
      3. the divine condition (holiness) is seeing Christ’s dying purpose. Ephesians 5:25-26 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, (NIV)   “Remember that holiness was Christ’s purpose for all of us when he died for us.”
      4. the divine condition (holiness) is living as new creatures in Christ.   Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV) “Remember that it was for holiness that we were raised to life in Christ”
      5. the divine condition (holiness) is learning the message of grace. Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, (NIV)  Ephesians 4:21-24 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (NIV)   “Remember that the gospel that calls us to Christ summons us also to holiness”
      6. the divine condition (holiness) is Christ liberating us from sin. Matthew 1:21 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (KJV) “Remember that holiness, which is another name for the life of deliverance from sin, is itself a part of the salvation that Jesus brings us.”
      7. the divine condition (holiness) is the only way of seeing god. Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. (NIV)    “Remember that … without holiness no one will see the Lord  (Heberews 12:14 NIV) not because a Christian’s final acceptance has to be earned by holy living, but because, just as only through a sound eye can one ever see a view, so only through a pure heart can one ever see God (we have that on Jesus’ authority).”
      8. the divine condition (holiness) is opening fellowship with God Psalm 15:1-2 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? 2  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart (NIV)  “Remember, too, that holiness makes for the happiness of fellowship with God, which the unholy will miss.”
      9. the divine condition (holiness) is securing a place of pleasing service for god. II Timothy 2:21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (NKJV)  “Remember also that holiness is the precondition of usefulness to God.”
      10. the divine condition (holiness) is growing through God’s pruning. Hebrews 12:7-8 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. (NKJV)  “Finally, remember that holiness is in any case the only way of life that is natural and fulfilling  to anyone who is born again…   As the great preacher of over a century and a half ago prayed,”Lord, make me as holy as it is possible for a saved sinner to be.” Can we pray that this evening?”
    3. The Effect:
      1. “Enduring forever”. It is eternal.  Because it has no evil, taint or spoil it needs no editing, refining or addition! Thus stressing the eternal duration it’s going to last! The fear of the Lord Produces in us Holy Living. wE see him magnifying:
      2. the divine condition magnifies our victory! Exodus 20:20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” (NKJV)
      3. the divine condition magnifies our leadership! 2 Samuel 23:3 The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me: ‘He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God. (NKJV)
      4. the divine condition magnifies our service! Psalm 2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling. (NKJV)
      5. the divine condition magnifies our worship! Psalm 5:7 But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy; In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple. (NKJV)
      6. the divine condition magnifies our holiness! 2 Corinthians 7:1     Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (NKJV)
      1. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s COMPASSION UPON US! Psalm 103:13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; (NIV)
      2. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s MERCY UPON US! Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, (NKJV)
      3. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s blessing UPON US! Psalm 112:1     Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments. (NKJV)
      4. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s hand in our life UPON US! Psalm 145:19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them. (NKJV)
      5. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s good pleasure UPON US!     Psalm 147:11 The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy. (NKJV)
      6. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s fullness for life UPON US! Proverbs 10:27     The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. (NKJV)
      7. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s confidence for living UPON US! Proverbs 14:26 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge. (NKJV)
      8. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s hatred for evil UPON US! Proverbs 16:6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. (NKJV)
      9. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s protection UPON US!     Isaiah 8:12-13 “Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’ Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. 13 The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread. (NKJV)
      10. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS the fellowship of God’s people UPON US! Malachi 3:16     Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. (NKJV)
      11. THE DIVINE CONDITION BRINGS God’s presence UPON US! Acts 10:35 “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (NKJV)

Now, let’s focus on these 3 areas impacting our lives as believers:

  1. The condition of fearing God as a way of life from God’s word.
  2. The qualitative character in God’s word as clean.
  3. The eternal duration of God’s word.

First, that way of life called fearing God.

  1. Defined to living acknowledge that God seest me
  2. Described first (positively) in Bible
    • Adam & Eve (Gen. 3:9-10) Adam and Eve ran from God because they knew condition
    • Hagar (Gen. 16:7-14) Hagar called God El Roe, the all-seeing God – responds
    • Abraham (Gen. 22:12) Reverenced God so moved to action
    • Joseph (Gen. 39:9) Alone inside palace, acknowledged by actions God saw Him
    • Nehemiah (Neh. 5:15) Didn’t take advantage of privilege because knew God saw him.
    • David (2 Sam. 12:9)
    • Job (Job 1:1)  Job turned from evil.  Why?  Because he acknowledge God.
    • Early Christians in Acts 9:31
    • Cornelius in Acts 10:2
    • Heroes of faith, Heb. 11:7

All were fearing God and by that awesome reverence, living in a righteous way or livingly acknowledging that Thou God seest me?

Secondly, let’s see some negative descriptions.

  1. 6:5 Every immagination only evil
  2. 3:10-18 It’s the way of sin!  Hearkens back to Ps. 36:1
  3. 1:18 Suppress it
  4. 1:21 Ignore it
  5. 1:23 Exchange it for:
  6. So, fear of God: defined Thou God seest described positive/negative in word of God to be desired

What does God desire us to do? In fact, fearing God is the doorway into God’s presence on a moment by moment basis!  Listen to Solomon:

  1. Fear of the Lord
    • 9:10-12 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.”
    • Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened. (NKJV)
    • Proverbs 14:2 He whose walk is upright fears the LORD, but he whose ways are devious despises him. (NIV)
    • Proverbs 14:26-27 He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge. 27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. (NIV)
    • Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor. (NIV)
    • Proverbs 19:23 The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble. (NIV)
    • Proverbs 28:14 Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. (NIV)
  2. Fearing God is thus: Trust in God or self
    • Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. 8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. (KJV)
    • So, the way of life called fearing God is the title for God’s word used in Ps. 19:9. Thus, it’s part of salvation!

What’s next? Fear of the Lord is clean.  That is its character.  Tahor is the word.  It means with no foul spots or antagonizing corruption, no evil….

    • Isn’t it interesting that only those things untouched by sin will last forever? All the rest need redemption.
    • God’s word has no stains, errors, mistakes, historical inaccuracies, cultural faus paux. It is purely preserve – clean!

And all this leads us to the final truth: The duration of this clean fear of the Lord!  It “endures”.  It is eternal.  The Bible never needs an update, never a new edition, it is never obsolete.  It speaks with the same power today as 35 centuries ago.

That can hardly be said for any of man’s creations!

  1. Science evolves
  2. Psychologies fade
  3. Philosophies die

In fact, in school at MSU/BJU spent most of the time in philosophy & psychology class talking about the ones that have passed out of vogue!

Psalm 119 has 22 stanzas. The fifth has as its theme:  “The Enduring Word”, v. 89-96 (read)

The Word of God never passes. It is eternal!

Need to know what will last! Those who have come to the Word of God and changed to its likeness, fearing God, they last forever.

Note 2 Samuel 12:9 Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. (NIV)


[1] Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, pp118-120.