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Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Book of Proverbs

In the Book of Proverbs, we are taught that fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (1:7), the beginning of wisdom (9:10), a fountain of life, (14:27), that it adds length to life (10:27), helps a man avoid evil (16:6), and brings wealth and honor (22:4).

It's impossible to draw any conclusion other than that fear of the Lord is a wonderfully good thing; that it is the essential precondition of every blessing in a person's life.

Mind you, the fear in question is not the sort a you would experience if during an otherwise lovely walk in the woods you suddenly encountered an obviously rabid animal. God does not, after all, want us to flee from Him in terror. The fear referred to in Proverbs is of two other sorts. First, reverential fear: being in nearly speechless awe of someone else's natural authority, their grace-full power and charisma. Second, apprehensive fear: being legitimately afraid of what might happen to you (of the choices that same authority figure might make) if you do something wrong. Apprehensive fear is what keeps people from breaking the law. It also keeps children from disobeying their parents. Adam and Eve were quick to disobey God because they did not, to that point, fear Him. God had provided for them a Paradise free of all care and concern.

What was there to fear about someone who allowed you to live in the lap of luxury? So, when God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate from the tree of knowledge, they had no basis for truly understanding what he was talking about. Their subsequent disobedience required that God do something tangible to prove to them that he was to be taken seriously; it required that he provide for them that very basis of understanding. In addition, He had to do something that would cause us to take Him seriously. So, God punished Adam and Eve such that they and all of their descendants would forever and always know that his Word was law and he was not to be trifled with. Rather, he was to be feared; that is, His children were to stand before Him in awe of His majesty and apprehension of what He might do to them if they disobeyed Him. And so it is with children. They must fear their parents - in the same sense that we are to fear the Lord God - before they will pay attention to their parents, take their parents seriously, and do what their parents tell them to do. It is not natural for children to fear their parents; therefore, it is up to each and every parent to see that this fear is properly instilled. But timing is of the essence. The proper time, or "season" (Ecc. 3:1), for instilling this fear is during a child's third year of life, shortly after the child begins acting like a little Adam or Eve - deceitful, defiant, belligerent. The emergence of rebellious behavior (and it happens sooner in some children, later in others) signals that it's time for the child's parents to do exactly what God did to Adam and Eve - exile the child from the "Garden of Eden" (the carefree state that parents maintain during infancy and early toddlerhood) and begin disciplining in ways that cause the child to fear them. Parents of prior generations had no problem with this. They understood that it was in their children's very best interests that their children fear them, they understood that timing was of the essence, and they knew how to instill the fear properly (i.e., without causing their children terror). Furthermore, these parents knew that like fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom, fear of one's parents is the beginning of good behavior/good citizenship and, therefore, the essence of a happy childhood. (Undeniably, the happiest children are also the most well behaved.) And so, forty-plus years ago, the typical child, by age 3, was afraid of his parents.

Today's parents, however, have been brainwashed by professional propaganda to the effect that causing a child fear of any sort is psychologically damaging. As a result, today's parents try to avoid doing anything in the way of discipline that would cause their children fear. As a consequence, the child rearing table has turned. Many of today's parents are afraid of their children. They are afraid to incur their children's displeasure, anger, wrath. They are afraid to do anything that might upset their children or cause their children to dislike them. As a consequence, today's children are the most undisciplined bunch of brats to ever inhabit the planet. Why? Because as one of their favorite bumper stickers boasts, they have No Fear. What a shame, because how can a child who does not fear his parents ever come to fear the Lord? He has, after all, no basis for developing that wonderful, life-giving fear. Keep in mind that the fear spoken of in Proverbs is fear of a parent who loves us so much He was willing to give his life for us; a completely devoted parent who wants nothing more than the very best of everything for His children. A God who was intimidated by us, afraid of us, a God who wanted us to like him, would be too self-interested to give his life for us. The only God/parent who would give his life for his children is a God/parent who is not afraid of anything. Ask yourself, In my relationship with my child/children, who's afraid of whom? If the honest answer is that you are the one who is afraid, then your children cannot be secure in your love, can they? They cannot really trust you to take care of them under any and all circumstances, can they? After all, we are secure in God's love only because he loves us so incredibly much that we have no choice but to stand speechless, in trusting fear.

 

 

Copyright 2006-2009 John K. Rosemond.