Joy and the fear of the Lord

Posted on November 14, 2017 · Posted in Fear of the Lord, Wisdom

The Psalms are built on one great foundational truth: God rules over the earth. Blessed or joyful is the man who turns away from the world and delights in the law of God. The Psalms also teach that the appropriate fear of God must always come first. The fear of the Lord brings wisdom and joy. Wisdom and joy are two good things that you want for your children! Psalms 111 & 112 state the blessings of the fear of the Lord as leading to wisdom, joy, and delight in obeying God. When God is recognized for who he is then life is at last understandable.

Notice how Psalm 111 ends and Psalm 112 begins:

The fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
Praise him forever! (Psalm 111:10)

Praise the Lord!
How joyful are those who fear the Lord
and delight in obeying his commands. (Psalm 112:1)

This is a powerful, intentional literary connection! Security, trust, wisdom, joy all start with the fear of the Lord. Negatively, Paul quotes Psalm 36 in Romans 3 when he describes the wicked as having “no fear of God before their eyes.”

What does this look like in everyday life?

There is the explosion of thunder. Psalm 29 says this is the voice of God. Rain comes to end a drought or to bring a great flood. Job 37 and Jesus in the gospels teach this is the work of God. A rainbow graces the sky. This is the promise of God. When proclaiming the gospel in Acts 14 Paul says it is God who fills hearts with joy. And then in Acts 17 he says the places you live and even your next breath are determined by God. Teach your children the significance of these daily events.

All of these things offer opportunities to be in awe and the fear of God, both for you and for your children. But only if you take advantage of them! These things cry out for the awe and power of God to be recognized in everyday life. Once God is seen as this powerful and this involved in life he can be feared and then followed with joy and delight, as the psalmist says. This is what drives us to embrace the gospel. It is our only hope as we stand before a holy, awesome God. Model this for your children: Wisdom, joy, and delight all flow from the fear of the Lord!

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Jay Younts
John A. (Jay) Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger, and is a ruling elder serving at Redeemer Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He has written Everyday Talk, Everyday Talk About Sex & Marriage, Finding the Right Track, the In Touch With Paul stewardship series, and What About War. He has studied and taught about biblical childrearing for 30 years. He and his late wife Ruth have five adult children.