November 16, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
who walk in obedience to him.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
When I was a child, I was afraid of sirens. If a police car was racing through our neighborhood with its siren blazing, I’d plug my ears and find a safe place to hide. During my first year in elementary school, I hated the last Friday of the month, because there would be a test of the air-raid sirens throughout our town. At 10:00 a.m. on that fateful day each month, the sinister sirens would sound, and my fellow students and I would drop on our knees and hide under our desks for a nerve-wracking minute. I hated that noise, but I hated even more my feelings of fear. Though I knew the shrieking of the siren wouldn’t hurt me, I was painfully afraid. Fear, it seemed to me, was a terrible thing, something to be avoided at all costs.
To be sure, fear can be agonizing. But not all fear is bad or to be avoided. If a tornado is blowing your way, the fear that gets you into a storm cellar is your friend. If fear of an accident keeps you from driving too fast, you should listen to that fear.
There is another kind of fear that we ought to embrace and that can enrich our lives: the fear of the Lord. When the Bible says, “Blessed are all who fear the LORD” (128:1), it is not envisioning a fear that makes us run away for safety. Rather, fearing God is a matter of being stunned by his glory, dwarfed by his power, and astounded by his holiness. When we sense the awesome presence of God, we are inclined to drop on our knees, not in order to hide from God under our desks, but because we realize that we can never hide from him, and because the King of kings is worthy of our complete submission.
We’re sometimes told that fear of the Lord is reverence for God. This is true, though our use of the word “reverence” can fall short of the implications of “fear.” Genuine fear of the Lord permeates my life, transforming the way I live each moment. Thus, when I revere God with all that I am, I will indeed “walk in obedience to him” (128:1).
Psalm 128 begins with the unexpected insight that those who fear the Lord are “blessed.” The Hebrew word translated here as “blessed” is ’ashrei. It conveys a sense of happiness, but it often has a wider meaning. In Psalm 128, for example, those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways are joyful or happy because their whole life is shaped by God and filled with his blessings. They are blessed not only with good feelings but also with fruitfulness in life.
Something to Think About:
How do you respond to the phrase “the fear of the Lord”?
Do you fear God? In what ways?
Have you ever experienced blessing connected with the fear of the Lord?
Something to Do:
As you begin your day today, consider the majesty, holiness, and power of God. Allow your heart to experience godly fear. Then, hold onto this fear throughout the day. Don’t be scared of God. But, as you work, remember God’s awesomeness and offer to him your work and even yourself.
Gracious God, as you know, this language of fear can get us in trouble. Usually, when we are afraid of something, we rightly want to get away from it. But fearing you is different. The more we sense your awesomeness, the more we are drawn to you. Though we realize how helpless we are before you, we feel secure because we know that you are utterly good and utterly loving. You will not consume us in the fire of your holiness, though you surely could.
O Lord, may I grow in my fear of you as I come to a clearer understanding of just who you are. May deep reverence for you fill my life, impacting everything I do, each relationship, each task, each thought, each prayer.
As I grow in righteous fear of you, may I also grow in joy. May the confidence that my life is in your powerful hands give me delight as I live each day, trusting you, serving you, offering my whole life in worship to you. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The work of marriage, raising children, and caring for parents (Psalm 127, 128, 139)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.