BLESSINGS ON THOSE WHO FEAR THE LORD
by Wayne S. Walker
“Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways” (Psalm 128:1). The meaning of the word “blessed” is usually given as “happy” (cf. Matthew 5:3-11) That is all right as long as we understand that it is not the “happiness” of a mere emotional reaction to pleasant circumstances. Sometimes the word “fortunate” is used to define it, and that is all right too if we can divorce the term from its root of “fortune” meaning chance or luck and see that the idea is not just those who have come out ahead in “life’s lottery.” I prefer to identify one who is “blessed” as being favored by God because he or she lives in harmony with God’s will.
The blessing of Psalm 128 is pronounced upon “every one who fears the LORD.” Too many people think of fearing the Lord as being afraid or terrified of Him. Of course, for those who are not right with God, there are some things about Him to be afraid or terrified of. To those who “sin willfully” the writer of Hebrews said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31). However, the Biblical fear of God is more than that. It is a deep reverence, respect, and awe for God because of who and what He is. The Hebrew writer also said, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).
The outward manifestation of fearing God is walking in His ways. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). The fear of punishment for disobeying God is still present, but we move beyond that to a strong and abiding love for Him because of what He has done for us. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” (1 John 4:17). The one who fears God out of love and walks in His ways will be favored by Him. To help our children learn to fear the Lord and walk in His ways that they might be blessed by Him should be the ultimate, underlying goal in homeschooling our children.