8 You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? 9 When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. 10 In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), 11 In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:8–11, NKJV)
Does Jesus care when your heart aches? Does the Lord see the trial you face when the enemies of faith are in hot pursuit, tempting you to yield to their persuasions to compromise conviction for convenience and conformity? Does God know when those you love turn their backs on truth and righteous living, and on you? Oh yes, He knows – and He cares! He knows the steps you walk in the middle of the night. He stores up your tears in a bottle and records your anguish in His book. He comforts the afflicted. They continue to praise Him through the agony. They put their trust in God and refuse to fear man. The threats, taunts and trials hurled at them by the unfaithful will not distract, deter or destroy those who live by faith. Be one who fears the Lord rather than men (Matthew 10:28). Trust in Him. He is your Redeemer and your refuge in the storm.
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! 9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. (Psalm 34:8–10, NKJV)
David’s life was in danger. King Saul was pursuing him, and when he fled to Gath of the Philistines, he had to pretend to be insane to escape threats on his life (1 Samuel 21:10-15). When we fall into trials we are tempted to accuse God. How is it that these perils did not shake David’s faith in God? Today’s passage shows us how David’s resolve was strengthened in the face of trials. First, he knew God blesses those who trust in Him (v. 8). David believed God’s word and promises. Trust in God overwhelms trials in this world. Second, David feared God (v. 9). Reverence for God, who provides and protects His people, keeps its focus on God in the day of calamity. Third, David continued to seek the Lord. God’s will and pleasure, not his own, ruled David’s life. Do not allow temptations and trials of life to diminish your faith. Like David, trust God, fear God and seek God. The Lord is good. He will bless and sustain His holy ones, for they rely on Him and see His goodness.
“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 4:18, NKJV)
Context is crucial to understanding the Scriptures correctly. Today’s passage is a notable illustration of the point. John is discussing the perfecting of love in the Christian’s life so that he or she has “boldness in the day of judgment” instead of fear, which “involves torment.” Where there is mature love, there is no fear of the judgment. But, what is the mature love that “casts out fear?” John tells us in 1 John 5:2-3: “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2–3). The love that has boldness rather than fear in the day of judgment is one that is willingly obedient to God’s commands. Only when love includes willing obedience of God’s commandments is it the “perfect love” that “casts out fear.”
Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments. (Psalm 112:1, NKJV)
This psalm calls on us to give celebratory adulation of thanks to Jehovah. It reveals the result of such praise, while explaining who actually praises the Lord, and why. The blessing of His favor is the outcome of giving God the praise He is due. The source of acceptable praise comes from a heart that fears the Lord. This person obtains His good favor. Cries of hallelujah (“praise Jehovah” or “praise the Lord”) must combine with genuine reverence for them to be regarded by the Lord and responded to favorably by Him. Nor do we have to wonder who it is that fears the Lord, for it is spelled out here. Fearing God is tantamount to delighting completely in His commandments. We fear God by desiring, cherishing and following His commands. And so, by taking pleasure in His commands, we wholeheartedly praise His name. At this thanksgiving season (and every day), may we delight in the Lord’s commands, rejoice in His good blessings, and thankfully praise His name.
12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. 13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. (Ecclesiastes 12:12–13, NKJV)
As you see from the above notation, this is the 1200th Sword Tip. Seeing that number reminded me of today’s passage. People will always write books. And, people will continue to read and study them. Yet, making intellectual pursuit the goal of one’s life “is grasping for the wind,” as Solomon explained in Ecclesiastes 1:17-18. God’s word, the Bible, is complete; it will not be added to by God, and it cannot be improved upon by human wisdom (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Jude 3; Revelation 22:18-19). Bible study is essential. But, Bible study is not an end in itself. Reading and knowing God’s word is vanity, unless we “fear God and keep His commandments” (verse 13). That is the purpose of life. The Bible teaches us why to fear God and how to obey Him. This is why we read, learn and study the Bible – so that we may live reverently, obey God completely, and thereby, fulfill our God-given purpose. By God’s good grace, may that ever be the purpose that drives our lives (2 Peter 3:17-18).
19 And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:19–23, NKJV)
Jesus had healed a man who was blind from birth. His parents knew who healed him, but fear kept them from confessing Jesus to the Jewish leaders. This is a clear example of what Jesus taught about being ashamed of Him: “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38). Being silenced by intimidation is the cowardice that results in the second death (Rev. 21:8). Never be ashamed of Jesus and His words, regardless of what other threaten to do to you. This is the teaching of Jesus.
5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground… 10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” (Psalm 147:5–6, 10–11, NKJV)
God’s power and wisdom is unbounded. He does not act as we humans. What He values and exalts is very different from the estimations given by men. He raises up and magnifies the humble of heart, while He crushes wickedness under the strength of His mighty hand. Unlike men, who put confidence in the strength of their military might and prowess, our Lord delights in those who reverence Him and trust His mercy as their salvation in time of trouble. Let us never doubt the robust power and unlimited understanding of the Lord God to provide for and protect those who humbly serve Him and faithfully trust His mercy.