The Blessedness of the Fear of the Lord
Proverbs 19:23
The fear of the LORD tends to life: and he that has it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Life, satisfaction, freedom from evil! What more can be wanted? And what is there that can bring all this, except the one thing which is mentioned in the text — the fear of the Lord? Oh, why, then, are other things so eagerly sought, and this one thing so lamentably neglected? "The fear of the Lord" often stands in Scripture for the whole of true religion; just as we find "the love of God" or the "keeping of His commandments" put for the same thing. "The fear of the Lord" is that disposition of grace given by His own Spirit to His children whereby they regard Him, their heavenly Father, with a holy awe and reverence and filial dread of offending Him. Of the wicked it is said that "there is no fear of God before his eyes." He lives, he acts, he speaks, he meditates evil, as if there were no God observing and taking account of his every thought and word and deed.

I. "THE FEAR OF THE LORD TENDETH TO LIFE." The fear of the Lord, in many cases, "prolongeth days" even in this world. For while "the wicked and the sinner" often, through his own transgressions and excesses, shortens his life, and perhaps does not "live out half his days," the fear of the Lord frequently, through His blessing, brings health and long life. It does so partly through the temperance and weft-regulated habits to which it leads, and partly through the peace, contentment, and happiness which it causes to the mind, and which are better than medicine for the health of the body.

II. But now let us observe the next thing which is said in connection with the fear of the Lord: "HE THAT HATH IT SHALL ABIDE SATISFIED"; not only shall be, but shall abide, satisfied. Satisfaction, thorough, abiding satisfaction — is not this the thing which every soul of man desires above all the things that can be named? Riches, honour, power, pleasure, all the so-called goods of earth — are these things desired, even by the most worldly, for their own sake? or are they not coveted rather for the sake of the satisfaction which it is secretly thought they will furnish? But do they, can they furnish satisfaction? Alas! how often do the choicest and most valued earthly prizes wither and crumble in the grasp of those who have attained them! And here we are led to look into the nature and reasons of the abiding satisfaction enjoyed by him that hath the fear of the Lord. Such a person is united to God through Christ. And this being his happy case, he has God in Christ as his "portion" and "exceeding great reward." And who or what can satisfy as God can? God, the infinite and eternal God, has pleasures, comforts, satisfactions, joys, with which He can so fill the soul as to give it the most perfect and overflowing contentment and happiness, and that for ever and ever. It is true that the complete and absolute perfection of this contentment and happiness cannot be enjoyed in this world of sin and trouble; but still it is equally true that, even here, great and blessed, albeit imperfect and partial, foretastes may be enjoyed of what will be perfect and complete hereafter.

III. "HE THAT HATH IT SHALL NOT BE VISITED WITH EVIL." What a blessed and cheering promise, in a world like ours, which is so full of evil! But what are we to understand by this promise? Have not the chosen of God, in multitudes of cases, appeared to inherit even a more than ordinary share of trouble and calamity? Certainly, God has often wrought out wonderful deliverances from such outward evil for His chosen; and every one of them would, doubtless, freely acknowledge that he has never been visited with such things as often or as severely as his sins have deserved. But, on the other hand, it is also undeniable that painful losses, cutting griefs, and sore temptations have visited God's children more or less from the beginning, and at times with remarkable severity. And were not these things "evil"? No, never were any of them really evil to a single one of the true children of God, who feared His name. Though evil in their own nature, they were not evil to them. Even the most trying and painful things work through God's grace for great good in forming the soul to faith and patience, and unworldliness, and humble waiting upon God; so that affliction is made a school of training and most blessed discipline for heaven. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." Yes, there shall no evil happen to the just, no evil that shall hurt his spiritual and eternal interests, no evil which he will think of pronouncing such when he has once quitted this world, where evil is so commonly called good, good evil; and, when he finds himself in that happy state of existence, in which he will no longer "see through a glass darkly," but with clear, full, and perfect vision.

(C. R. Hay, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

WEB: The fear of Yahweh leads to life, then contentment; he rests and will not be touched by trouble.

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