In honor of the Dear Girl Collection launching this month, join me in studying what it means to be a woman of faith according to Proverbs 31. We’ll launch our study with a look at the central verse in this beautiful passage.
Fear has always come naturally to me. And I doubt that I am alone in this. It seems that fear abounds in the lives of those around me. I see it preying on the minds of my friends and family, and I see its effects on the world-at-large as I watch the evening news and read Facebook posts. Since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been using fear as a tactic to distract the hearts of mankind away from God.
Just the other day, I told my husband, “If fear were a person, I’d like to punch him in the face.” He readily agreed. I’d quite like to eradicate fear and anxiety from every corner of my heart and mind, as well as the hearts and minds of those around me.
Therefore, as we open God’s Word, we may be astounded to read that, in the sight of God, a woman who fears is to be praised.
The Object of Her Fear
As we open to Proverbs 31, we see an incredible woman. She is strong, capable, independent and determined. She is the woman that so many of us strive to be. And at the end of the passage we see that her incredible life is founded upon fear. The fear of the LORD.
This woman does not fear political unrest, financial crisis, health issues, parenting struggles, sleepless nights, or the number on the scale. She fears the LORD. Her fear of the LORD eradicates the ordinary fears that plague you and I on a daily basis. It is this fear that we must cultivate in our own hearts.
The Nature of Her Fear
I’ve wrestled with this passage for many years. What exactly does it mean to fear the LORD? Certainly the Bible is not calling me to fear the LORD in the same way that I fear bankruptcy, cancer, disapproval from other mothers, or a wayward child. The fear of those things cause my heart a type of paralysis and panic, and a tendency to run in the opposite direction. So what does this fear that the LORD is calling us to look like?
To begin, let’s look at one way Webster defines fear:
ARCHAIC: regard [God] with reverence and awe
synonyms: stand in awe of, regard with awe, revere, reverence, venerate, respect;
We see here that there are different forms of fear. The fear that the Bible calls us to is altogether different that my fear of worldly circumstances. It is a reverence of God based on his character and nature that leads my heart toward worship rather than indifference. It is a respect for the holiness of God’s Law and a dread of his justice and anger toward sin that compels us to strive for holiness in our own hearts. It is a fear that understands who God is, who we are, and our desperate need of mercy.
The Result of Her Fear
In his sermon entitled “A Woman Who Fears the Lord Is To Be Praised”, John Piper gives a helpful explanation of the proper fear of God:
The fear that Moses wanted them to keep before their eyes was that God is fearfully powerful and opposed to sin. This fear of kindling God’s powerful wrath against sin ought not to drive us away from God but to God for mercy (based on Exodus 20:18).
Continuing on, Piper explains,
If you are running from God because you are afraid of him, then you are not yet as afraid as you ought to be. In fact, your very flight is a mockery of God, presuming to think that you could outrun [him]. If you really fear him and love your own life, stop running, turn around, and hug his neck for dear life…The fear of the Lord is fear of fleeing out of his fellowship into the way of sin. Therefore, the fear of the Lord is full of peace and security and hope. It keeps us near to the merciful heart of God, our fortress, our refuge, our sanctuary, our shield, our sun. Isaiah 8:13 says, “The Lord of Hosts . . . let him be your fear, and let him be your dread, and he will become a sanctuary.” A proper fear of the Lord keeps us under the shadow of his wings where we need not be afraid.
The fear of the Lord keeps a woman running to God, moment-by-moment, all the while declaring, “I Need Thee Every Hour”. He is the center of her life, and the reason for which she lives.
The Source of Her Fear
If you, like me, are reading and meditating on this passage of Scripture and see the many ways you fall short, don’t let that drive you toward despair (Satan would love nothing more). Run to God in repentance, asking him to grow your heart in the proper fear of him. The source of the fear of God is God himself! It is an act of divine grace that our hearts of stone would be made alive to properly see and fear God in the way Scripture calls us to (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Just as the old song says, “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” Let’s join in praying this week that God would cultivate a greater fear (and love) for him in the days and weeks to come.