Practical Fear
Psalm 128:1
Blessed is every one that fears the LORD; that walks in his ways.…

Feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. "Let us cultivate that holy filial fear of Jehovah, which is the essence of all true religion; the fear of reverence, of dread to offend, of anxiety to please, and of entire submission and obedience. This fear of the Lord is the fit fountain of holy living; we look in vain for holiness apart from it: none but those who fear the Lord will ever walk in his ways" (Spurgeon). The rabbis explain the sentence in this way: "Abstains from breaches of the prohibitory commandments of the Decalogue, and performs the positive ones." True fear is linked with obedience and righteousness.

I. THE FEAR THAT PARALYZES EFFORT. This is the fear that takes form as fright. Sudden alarm often renders persons absolutely helpless. There is a moral fear of persons which has a similar effect. We cannot be our true selves in their presence. Because of overstrained nervous condition, Elijah felt this fear when he received the threatening message of Jezebel. But, in its bad form, this paralyzing fear is best illustrated by the one-talent man of our Lord's parable, who excused neglect of duty with the plea, "I knew thee, that thou art an austere man. And I feared." The true fear of God makes such unworthy fear of any one, or anything, else impossible.

II. THE FEAR THAT WASTES ITSELF IN SENTIMENT. There is a fear which belongs only to the emotions, and is but a matter of feeling. One of the great perils of modern religious life is making sentiment stand in place of righteousness. The answer of the modern religious man to every inquiry respecting his standing and his hope, is this, "I have felt." The fear of sentiment has in it more awe than love, and it is only too likely to grow into demoralizing superstition, that covers and excuses self-indulgence Sentiment and superstition are always satisfied with themselves; make a center of self; and feel relieved of all claims of duty and righteousness.

III. THE FEAR THAT INSPIRES ENDEAVOR. He who fears aright finds the fear inspire walking in ways of obedience. This is indeed the test of all forms of fear. The true fear of God draws us nearer to him, and puts us upon a holy anxiety to please him. The fear of God excites to a threefold endeavor; we want

(1) to obey him;

(2) to honor him;

(3) to serve him. And such practical fear is blessed. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Song of degrees.} Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

WEB: Blessed is everyone who fears Yahweh, who walks in his ways.

Piety in its Principle, Development, and Blessedness
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