Fearing God seemed to mean to me that I needed to learn respect. I needed to come to a place of treasuring the boundaries God has outlined as promoting and maintaining a healthy relationship with Him. But respect isn’t possible if I don’t have the humility to be a friend. So when I read again in Job 28 that to fear God is wisdom, I felt God was beginning to answer my prayer in learning how to live this out.
Eugene Peterson’s description of Abraham’s friendship with God seemed to be a start to this. And God seems to be adding Matthew Henry’s words. In his commentary on Job 28, Henry cites the very proverb about the rooster I shared with you in an earlier blog post (To Fear or Admire pt. 3). He cites the proverb to point out that generally we do not know the value of grace and so do not participate in the necessary pursuit to enter into it. He uses the example of miners who have an incredible understanding of pursuing earthly wealth in the bowels of the earth as a template for the pursuit of wisdom which is found in Heaven. And he says we cannot find the wisdom from above unless we are one with the Divine who is the holder of wisdom. By being one with His Spirit, we are then able to search out His wisdom.
To paraphrase Henry’s thoughts, there are three kinds of fearing God. One is the fear of a slave which comes from having stern, resistant, or demanding thoughts about God. These cause us to walk away from God. There is a selfish fear of God that comes from being afraid of what He will do to us if we don’t obey. Henry says this can prompt a kind of living directed at God but this isn’t a life lived with God. Finally, he says, the best fear of God is one coming from filial fear. Filial means from a son or daughter. He says filial fear comes from great and high thoughts of God (i.e. deep respect). Henry says that this filial fear shows up “by a constant care to depart from evil.” And once we cease to do evil, Henry points out, only then can we learn to do well. Then we can learn to live in a right relationship with God.
I’ll finish sewing together this idea of prophecy and respect next time.
- Ben :D