Praise the LORD! I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The works of the LORD are great, Studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious, And His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonderful works to be remembered; The LORD is gracious and full of compassion. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant. He has declared to His people the power of His works, In giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of His hands are verity and justice; All His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, And are done in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people; He has commanded His covenant forever: Holy and awesome is His name. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.” Psalm 111:1-10
The psalmist had good reasons to say that the FEAR of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. He begins by writing about the “works” of the LORD – “Studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious.” What are the “works” of the LORD that would be studied? CREATION!
“Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.” Psalm 104:1-2
Psalm 104 is a praise to the LORD for Creation. It is detailed in praise for specific aspects of the LORD’s “work” in creating the earth, sea, and sky and everything in it. That leads the Psalmist to write – “O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions.” (Psalm 104:24) God “made them all” in Wisdom.
Millions of people around the world are studying the “works” of the LORD right now – scientists, professors, students, people of all types – interested in learning more about how this world works. Students of science who fear the LORD have a deep appreciation for what He created. Those who do not fear the LORD see many of the same things as those who do, but they cannot appreciate what they see, hear, touch, and smell. Their ability to understand is greatly hindered by their unbelief.
What does it mean to “fear” the Lord? Does God want us to be “afraid” of Him? What kind of relationship does God want us to have with Him? The Hebrew language has many words that are translated by the English words “fear” and “afraid.” The first time we see one of the words in the Bible is Genesis 3:10 when Adam spoke to God after disobeying Him. God asked Adam, “Where are you?” Adam replied, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” The Hebrew word for “afraid” here is yare, which can have the meaning of “fear, terrified, intimidated, dreaded, apprehensive, stand in awe of, revere, respect.” It’s obvious from the context of what happened that Adam was terrified by what he had done. He knew the penalty for his disobedience and was very afraid. That’s why he hid himself from God.
We see the word yare used again in Deuteronomy 10:12. This is one of the most important statements in the Mosaic Law.
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good? Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it.” Deuteronomy 10:12-14
Fearing the Lord was a “requirement” for the people of Israel; and not just to fear Him, but to also walk in all His ways, love Him, and serve Him with all their heart and soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes were commanded for their good. Moses reminded Israel that a good reason to fear God was that everything in Heaven and on earth belong to Him.
The Hebrew word for “fear” in Psalm 111:10 is yir’ah and comes from yare. It means “to fear from an apprehension of danger and a sense of our own weakness joined with trembling.” It is a real fear that leads to reverence and awe and worship. That kind of fear is the beginning of “wisdom.”
In the next part of our study we will look at the many reasons Psalm 111 gives us to fear the LORD.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”