This is part 4 of the Monday Morning Meditation Psalm 34 series.
Here are today’s verses.
Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
Commentators say David did not have any children when he wrote this. Rather, he is talking to those he brought alongside him (mentioned in verse 3 and discussed in week 1). He emphasizes, “Listen; this is important. Learn this when you are young if possible. Fear God.”
I’ll be very honest and say I don’t completely understand what it means to fear God. I have asked Christians I respect their interpretation of this concept, I’ve listening to podcasts about it and read commentaries. It’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around.
Fear can mean to “cause awe or astonishment, revere and respect.” That, I can understand. But to “be afraid?” I’m just not sure. I talked about this a little last week, as fear was also part of that excerpt.
I think the surrounding verses are very helpful in discerning what God means in this case.
Fearing God, in this case, means being careful of what you say, what you seek, and what you pursue. This is confirmed as well in verses 9-10. We are careful of what we say and what we set our mind to because we are in awe of all God is, all He has done, and all He has yet to do.
It’s interesting to me that David says he will teach them about this fear, not that God will teach them. This is part of why I’ve asked Christians I respect what this means to them. Thus, this week, I’m asking God and you all: what does “fear of the Lord” mean to you? I’m asking God to show me in a new way how to revere, respect and fear Him. I’m also focusing on keeping my heart, my mind and my mouth in check.
Off the top of my head without looking into the original languages, the thought I’m having is that fearing God is part of wisdom, and the fear is like the fear one would have when walking over a suspension bridge where there is a 100-foot drop to certain death below.
You know you’re safe if you stay on the bridge, and you know what NOT to do just by taking a quick look (i.e. swing the bridge till it dumps you off sideways, hang off the edges just to show off how skilled you think you are, etc.)
That’s a great analogy! Thanks, Steeny.