Isaiah 51:7, 12, 13
Listen to me, you that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear you not the reproach of men…
Fear ye not the reproach of men; "Afraid of a man that shall die;" "Forgettest the Lord thy Maker." It has been said, "Fear God, and thou shalt have none else to fear." And the apostle, glorifying the fear of God by calling it love, says, "Perfect love casteth out fear." The immediate connection of the passage is Israel's fear of the Babylonians. But they need not have feared if they had looked to the "Lord as their Defence, and to the God of Jacob as their Refuge" - unto the Lord who "could perform all things for them." "Let not those who embrace the gospel righteousness be afraid of those who will call them Beelzebub, and will say all manner of evil against them falsely. Let them not be afraid of them; let them not be disturbed by these opprobrious speeches, nor made uneasy by them, as if they would be the ruin of their reputation and honour, and they must for ever lie under the load of them. Let them not be afraid of their executing their menaces, nor be deterred thereby from their duty, nor frightened into any sinful compliances, nor driven to take any indirect courses for their own safety. Those can bear but little for Christ that cannot bear a hard word for him" (Matthew Henry).
I. NATURAL FEAR OF MAN. Because the conquest of man by the spirit of self, self-will, self-pleasing, has set every man, in greater or less degree, upon getting advantage over his brother; and so we all go in suspicion and fear of one another. Illustrate from the jealousies and rivalries of society, the competitions of business, the ambitions and conflicts of nations. Governments are organizations to keel) within safe limits men's fears of one another. The only natural triumph over such fear is for men to become possessed with the idea of serving one another, instead of taking advantage of, and getting something out of, one another. George Macdonald has a dream in one of his works ('Wingfold, Curate'), in which heaven is pictured as busy earth, just as we know it, only everybody is set upon serving his neighbour, and nobody ever gets the idea of making his neighbour serve him. Nobody has anything to fear in such a heaven or in such an earth.
II. PROPER FEAR OF GOD. That must be supreme. It must be the fear that draws us near to him in trust; that gives us the joy of obeying and following him; and that really is filial love. That fear is a sanctifying force to us, just as reverent fear of his father mightily helps the boy to do right. That fear is a resting, quieting influence upon us; it makes us feel safe as the boy feels in the storm, if the father whom he fears is at the helm. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.