Ours is a society that craves safety. Some think that carrying a gun at all times or having a top notch security system will provide them safety. But for the man of God these things, although providing some measure of safety are nothing compared to the fear of the Lord. According to today's proverb that is the most effective security system known to mankind.
The fear of the Lord is described here as a fountain of life. The Hebrew words used for the phrase, "fountain of life" are "mekor chaiyim." This phrase literally means, "the vein of lives" and referred to the aorta which is the artery which carries the blood from the heart as it seeks to pump it throughout the entire body. Without our aorta we would be dead. I remember a very terrifying moment when my own father was found to have a seven inch long annuerism on his aorta. It was a life threatening condition of the worst kind. If my father's aorta burst - the very fountain of life in him would be cut off - and he would have died within seconds. The medical staff were able to do surgery and repair his aorta. But it was a reminder to me that without the "vein of lives" functioning, we will not live long. I am not saying that without the fear of the Lord we will die in mere seconds, but I am saying that the fear of the Lord is essential to us having the life that God provides. Here in today's proverb we read that the fear of the Lord is what helps us to avoid the snares of death. What are these "snares" that are mentioned here?
The Hebrew word for "snares" is very telling. The word is "moqesh" and it refers not so much to the snare itself, but to the bait which is placed in the snare. The word literally means the bait placed within a snare or trap - without which the animal would never come near it. It is the bait that makes the trap effective. The bait tempts the animal to come near even when his own instincts tell him the situation is dangerous. Unable to quell his own lusts for the free food, the animal draws near. The end is a trapped or dead animal. This parallels our problem with sin. Our desires draw us toward things that will eventually damage and destroy us. But we cannot seem to shake the lusts of our flesh, eyes, and prideful love of the world enough to turn away. We are bllind due to our sin. But this is where the fear of the Lord becomes a life-giving fountain to us.
The fear of the Lord is the respect and honor that we have of Him and of His Word. It is the willingness to respond to the Holy Spirit when He warns us about something we are about to do. We listen and obey when we fear the Lord - but we ignore Him when we have no repect or honor toward the God who made us. For those who do this, there is only death in the end. They may have an initial experience of pleasure in their sinful choice - but be warned that they will stand in the judgment for their actions. Any sinful action will be eternally regretted on that day. But know also that sinful choices, although their poison may not be felt immediately - also have consequences here and now as well.
Today's society, and unfortunately many in the church, think that the fear of the Lord is a thing of the past. They ignorantly say that we are a people of grace in the New Testament. The Old Testament idea of fearing God is out of step with who we are supposed to be. What I find interesting is that the book of Acts tells us that the church benefited greatly from the fear of the Lord. In Acts 9:31 we read the following, "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. " The fear of God is a New Testament truth that will bless God's church. In fact the fear of the Lord is linked here with the "comfort of the Holy Spirit." It was the combination of these two that worked together by God's grace to cause the church to increase. But there is one more thing that will bless us as we look at the proverb for today.
The fear of the Lord is said to be a "fountain of life." There is another parallel that is such a blessing to see here. In John chapter 7 Jesus spoke of the way that the Holy Spirit would come to those who believed in Him. He used the picture of fountains of living water that would flow from the innermost being of those who experienced the ministry of the Holy Spirit. This is what we have learned today in Proverbs. It is another way that the Holy Spirit is linked directly to the fear of the Lord. We need to realize that one of the ways that the Holy Spirit works in our lives is to bring us the fear of the Lord. We have a respect for God - a desire to honor Him and not to displease Him. This makes us very receptive to His Word which tells us what He wants us to know. Both are the same fountain. As we fear God the Holy Spirit works in us to teach us God's Word - and then to urge us to listen and respond to what God has said. All this comes together to turn us from the snare - from the bait of Satan which seeks to lure us into His traps and his snares of death. May God give us grace to fear Him - to experience the Holy Spirit's teaching and warning - and to avoid sin as a result.