The Fear of the Lord; May 12, 2021

1 Kings 8:39-40 “Then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.”

Throughout this prayer there are various calamities mentioned, brought on by the people’s sins. In each case Solomon asks for God’s forgiveness on the basis of repentance, and here he gives the overarching goal: that the people would fear God. That’s a worthy goal, but it is ironic that Solomon prayed this way when he himself obviously didn’t continue to fear God throughout his life. If he had, he would never have built shrines for idols and actually worshiped at them! (1 Kings 11:1-8) As is all too common with leaders of various sorts, he failed to grasp that the rules he proclaimed actually applied to him, too. (We see that in politicians all the time.) Solomon forgot the great truth he proclaimed here, that God knows the hearts of all men. If we know that and genuinely fear God, then we will strive to our utmost to be true to Him, and so love Him with all that we have and are. (Matthew 22:37) Unfortunately, the easier we have it, the less likely we are to fear God, and Solomon had it as easy as it came in those days. Actually, that’s a major factor in the slide in American morality. We have it so easy we make up things to be offended about! If our hearts are turned and tuned to God, then we won’t need calamities to make us seek Him, and the troubles that come simply because we live in a fallen world won’t be able to tear us down. (John 16:33)

As I am reminded from time to time, I grew up loving God but not necessarily fearing Him. That is a dangerous, deceptive situation! It puts us in the category of the people Jesus talked about in Matthew 7:21-23. Even using God’s power to perform miracles isn’t a guarantee we are in a right relationship with Him. I don’t want to be in that group! I need to remember that my very existence is dependent on the grace of God, and live accordingly. I have never been a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher, nor do I want to be, but I must not preach a “gospel” that overlooks the necessity of repentance. For myself, I must not forget to fear God, which is exactly what Solomon seems to have done. With my every breath, all the way to the last one, I am to love, honor, and serve Him, because He alone is worthy.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your grace to me in countless ways. Help me indeed respond to You as I should, in love based on who You are, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled through me for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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