Focal Passage: Psalm 33:6-15; 18-22
We are a fearful people. We fear people, places and things. We fear the past, the present and the future. Economic, political, spiritual and physical fears plague our minds and hearts. Fear is a natural response to those things that threaten us.
But too often we have misplaced fear. We have outlandish fear. As of last count there are more than 400 phobias or fears, and the number is ever increasing. Fear can multiply into a myriad of mentally and spiritually paralyzing roadblocks to healthy, obedient living.
Many of the things we fear never materialize into something to actually be afraid of. The taproot of the wrong kind of fear will produce spiritual paralysis.
The only fear worthy of fear is the fear of the Lord. Fear of God does not paralyze but empowers us because we are secure in the one we fear. Jesus said in Matthew 10:26-33 that we are not to fear the one (or anything) that can kill the body.
But we are to fear the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell. That One to be rightly feared is God. But what is the nature of this fear? Psalm 33 helps answer this question in part.
Fear of God as a creator (Psalm 33:6-9). God’s awesome, fear-inducing power can be seen in creation. He made the heavens and all the stars by the sheer power of His word. All the waters of the sea and all the inhabitants of the earth owe their existence to God. This is why Psalm 33:8 notes that all the inhabitants of the earth ought to “stand in awe of Him.”
When we do not fear God as Creator the consequences are deadly and devastating (Romans 1:18-32), leading to all kinds of sinful outcomes. Conversely, the fear of God produces joy and righteousness.
Fear and willing surrender (Psalm 33:10-15). Fear of God ought to lead to full and willing surrender to God. The Psalmist is not saying that the only motivation for faithful surrender is fear of God. Yet, the Psalmist is saying that a healthy fear of God is the beginning place of surrender. We surrender to what we fear. If we fear the wrong thing we surrender to the wrong things. But if we fear God all other fears are consumed by that one fear.
God’s plans for us and for the nations is essential. The nation that fears God is blessed. His counsel alone forms that basis of right living and thinking. He alone “forms the hearts of them all; he considers all their works” (v. 15). Surrender begins with the fear of God.
Fear and God’s provision and protection (Psalm 33:18-22). The fear and awe we have for God is partly derived from the fact that He provides for and protects His own. He “keeps his eye on those who fear him” (v. 18). He is able to “rescue them from death and to keep them alive in famine” (v. 19). God is our “help and shield” (v. 20).
We can live with joy because we are secure in him. We can trust him because we know our God is faithful. We can live with hope because God can be rightly feared as our provider and protector. B&R