“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:10
Do you remember a time when you were fearful of “The fear of the Lord”? You had heard so many stories of God “smiting” people in the Old Testament because of the error of their ways, and you were sure you were next because of something you said, thought, or did. I have that moment forever etched into my memory.
It’s fitting that as I write this, Bible Presentation Sunday is a couple days away. This is when the 2nd graders of our church will receive their Bibles. It’s fitting because my story centers around Bible Sunday too. If I remember right, we received our Bibles when we were third graders. As you’d expect, I was so excited to get my Bible. Craig, the only other third grader, and I stood in the front of our little country church and were given our Bibles. I knew this was a special book, a holy book. I was told this was God’s Word and that I needed to treat it carefully and respectfully.
I remember the excitement and awe of the moment as I was handed my very first Bible. I went back to the pew where mom, dad, and my sisters were sitting, I opened it up for a quick peek, but I knew I couldn’t delve into the Bible until later when I was home. So, once back home and after dinner was over, I ran up to my room and started paging through my Bible. I discovered there were pictures in it! I started quickly paging through the Bible to find the pictures, and that’s when it happened.
I was turning pages quickly and carelessly, and all the sudden one of the pages tore. This wasn’t just a little tear at the top, this was a tear down through the middle of the page almost all the way to the bottom. OH MY GOODNESS…what was I going to do? How do you fix this? I was convinced that I was going to be “smitten” by God because of how I had carelessly handled / treated God’s Word. That fear stayed with me for some time too. God was going to “get” me sooner or later.
Fortunately, I did survive that event and have come to learn that the “fear” that I was feeling in that situation wasn’t the type of “the fear of the Lord” that the Psalms was speaking of or looking for. Oh, I did learn from that moment in my life, but I’ve also come to realize that God is more interested in how we handle the words and the message of the Bible in our hearts and lives, than in just how we physically handle the book.
The real fear of the Lord Psalm 111 speaks of, is a sense of great awe and respect for the holiness, the majesty, the greatness of God. It’s a realization that God’s incredible power and love is real and impacts our lives yet today. The fear of the Lord is more about tearing our hearts in humbleness and service than it is in fearfulness from tearing pages.
Today, my challenge to myself and each of us is to intentionally look for moments in which you sense the awe, the greatness of God. Step into the awe…rest in the awe…because truly, that is the beginning of wisdom.