Thoughts on the Fear of the Lord and Other Good Things (Psalm 34:9-11)
Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! 10 The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. 11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. —Psalm 34:9-11
The fear of the Lord defines good, and will work in us the discernment of what is truly good. The fear of the Lord is for His blood-bought people—the saints. The people who are God’s possession know that there is nothing in themselves that seeks the Lord. It is His work in us—first, to awaken us in reverential fear to the beauty of His holiness and the darkness of our sin—and then, turn us by His grace and kindness to our Savior Jesus who makes it possible for us to seek Him. The fear of the Lord is good. It captures our souls for Christ, causes us to bow in adoration of Him, and ignites earnest pursuit of Him.
The fear of the Lord working in my soul gives me assurance that God my Father loves me, His daughter, and will discipline me for my good and His glorious purposes, even though in the moment that discipline may be unpleasant. “Know then in your heart that, ‘as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing Him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land’” (Deuteronomy 8:5-7).
The fear of the Lord wakes me up from my slumbering ways and reorients my heart to love His greatness, goodness, and salvation. I don’t want to blink and nod my way through the life God has given me. The fear of the Lord keeps me alert to opportunities to pray and share Christ in various ways with those who do not know Him. “Awake sleeper! Arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you! Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of your time because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16). “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and work for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).
What about the suffering young lions mentioned in our passage? I had to do a little research on young lions because I wondered why David made them to be the negative example. I found that young lions are cast out of the pride at about the age of two. They are seen as a threat to the lead male and forced out to fend for themselves. A young lion, like all animals, is controlled by his instincts. He is strong, aggressive, and terrifying, but is young, lacking experience and skill in the hunt. His courage is misplaced, resulting in a clumsy pursuit of his prey. The young lion soon grows weary, gives up, and goes away hungry. Many die within the first year of being on their own.
The people of God are not to be like the young lions, always hungry, depending upon themselves for the necessities of life, having knowledge without wisdom, strength without skill, controlled by instinct. We do not suffer want because God Himself fills us with the bread of life and living water that is a well of water springing up to eternal life. The fear of the Lord is more precious than gold (Psalm 19)—a weight of shining evidence that we belong to Him; a rich deposit in our hearts producing the dividends of Christlike humility and wisdom (Philippians 2:5-11; Proverbs 1:7). “Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). God summons us to forsake the evil of self-reliance and to instead joyfully seek Him. He will reveal to us His glory, goodness, and generosity; giving to us all that is needed to pursue Him relentlessly forever!
Then, we will continually bless the Lord (vs. 1) we will continually find our boast in the Lord (vs. 2) we will continually magnify the Lord (vs. 3) we will continually be radiant from looking to the Lord (vs. 5) we will continually be saved by the Lord (vs. 6) we will continually know the goodness of the Lord (vs. 8) we will continually take refuge in the Lord (vs. 8) we will continually fear the Lord (vs. 9) we will continually seek the Lord (vs. 10) and more!
All of these marvelous benefits are not just for us to enjoy (Psalm 34:11). Lower your gaze to those little ones running around the church fellowship hall who have no inkling of the greatness of our God. How quickly they may become the ‘young lions.’ Can you see them instead as sons and daughters of the Most High? Will you teach them the fear of the Lord? Your Sunday School just might need a few new volunteers who will say . . . “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”
What is your definition of a ‘good thing’? What is on your list of good things?
How does the fear of the Lord increase your knowledge and understanding of the grace of God through Jesus Christ?
What changes do you need to make in your life that would allow you time to participate in teaching ‘the fear of the Lord’ to the next generation in your family or church?