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Things that go Bump in the Night

Wisdom in fearing God

Proverbs 8:12-15

12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and discretion.

13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.

14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom;
I am understanding, I have strength.

15 By me kings reign,
And rulers decree justice.


Daddy, I’m scared…

The voice of my young son floated down the hallway to the living room. I entered his darkened bedroom–and grimaced in pain as I stepped on a random “Lego” lying on the floor amid “Hot Wheels” cars and other childhood flotsam. I reached his bed and placed a hand on his shoulder.

Shhhh…I’m here, buddy. What’s the matter?

I could already feel tension flowing from his little body as he sat up and leaned against my chest. 

It’s ok, daddy’s here. You’re safe. 

What was he afraid of? Who knows. The mind of a child–like the mind of an adult–can be filled with monsters and dangers that creep in the darkness, or lie just beyond the horizon. My little boy may have been frightened of a scene from a movie, a spooky story, or the shadows of a pile of laundry in a night-filled corner of his room. 

The important thing now was that daddy was here, and everything was going to be all right.

Solomon conveys this sentiment to his own son and the children of Israel as he rounds out the first nine chapters that make up his self-penned “prologue” of the book of Proverbs. 

In chapter 8, Solomon has reintroduced a character from the earliest verses: Lady Wisdom. This beautiful, desirable, earnest woman calls his young charges to heed her call to righteousness–and thus enter the gateway to earthly success, and eternal life. For the call of Lady Wisdom is the call of God, and when the promise is fulfilled, the voice of Jesus (I Corinthians 1:24).

Jesus’s voice, through wisdom, calls you not only to lay aside earthly fears–you are called to fear the One who is greater than he who is in the world (I John 4:4). 

As you come to verse 12, you move from an introduction to her demanding message:

12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and discretion.–Proverbs 8:12

Here, you seen that biblical names are often packed with meaning, the memory of past events or things to come. Here wisdom is identified by her characteristics: “prudence,” knowledge,” and “discretion.” These three things are not entries in a thesaurus, but are indelibly tied to wisdom. 

To be wise is to be the opposite of the fool–who instead of prudence is careless, instead of having knowledge is ignorant, and is thoughtless instead of showing discretion. Wisdom, according to commentators, is the personification of mental agility, versatility, and adroitness.

In this life, there is a call to recklessness in all you do. You lead with your emotions, blurt out opinions on social media, and rage when your safety and routine is threatened. The native foolishness of the sinful heart is the reason for broken relationships–as well as racks of money-wasting “impulse buys” at the checkout register. 

How do you avoid this? The answer is in the next verse:

13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.–Proverbs 8:13

Wisdom calls you to fear the Lord. As she says in chapter one, “the fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:9)”. The Lord here is I AM and He is the source of all righteousness and the opposite of all evil. Commentator Bruce Waltke describes the bedrock notion of this:

What the alphabet is to reading, what notes are to music, what numerals are to mathematics, the fear of I AM is to gaining the books wisdom and instruction.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs”

So how does “Fear of the Lord” keep you from foolishness and obliterate your earthly fears? Fear is a bad thing, right? What does it mean to fear Him?

Tim Keller describes this “holy fear” as “wonder, filled with bold humility.” It is the fear of the Abraham, who given the a task by God to perform the unthinkable  and does so in obedience. He is faithful to complete it even to the point of killing his own son–but God stays his hand (Genesis 22:12). 

In like manner, Jesus feared God and was obedient to the Father, even unto death on the cross (Philippians 2). This holy fear of Christ is reflected in His desire to honor and glorify the Father above all things. Professor and theologian John Murray puts this loving obedience in this way:

The fear of God in which godliness consists is the fear which constrains adoration and love.  It is the fear which consists in awe, reverence, honour, and worship, and all of these on the highest level of exercise.  It is the reflex in our consciousness of the transcendent majesty and holiness of God.  It belongs to all created rational beings and does not take its origins from sin.-John Murray

As a believer, is your every reflex a desire to honor and worship God? It is only when you think on your own sins and the absolute total, undeserved forgiveness that you have been given, that your heart turns to this holy reverence. Like the psalmist says:

But there is forgiveness with You,That You may be feared. If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,O Lord, who could stand?-Psalm130:3-4

Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung talks about what this awareness of your forgiving Father does to your heart, mind, and life:

God of a holy presence is also the God we want at our side. The God who is strong enough to judge is also gentle enough to forgive if you come, bow, submit and fear. The story of the Exodus is the story of your life: there is no lasting freedom without the fear of God.–Kevin DeYoung

In a recent article, DeYoung reminds you of how this holy fear can be exhibited in the most humble of places–and reveal the tremendous power of God in the process. He tells of the Hebrew midwives, and how pharaoh ordered them to kill all of the male children. Instead of obeying this wicked earthly command, the midwives feared–and honored–their heavenly authority:

But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.-Exodus 1:17

Think of how difficult this must have been! On one hand, an unthinkable order, on the other, the knowledge that disobeying pharaoh would mean certain death for you. Could you make this choice? 

To make this choice is to adopt a moral code that transcends earthly rules, customs, or expectations. It is to reflecting Christ, rather than pleasing others or being “authentic." DeYoung calls you to look beyond your own personal risk and potential pain, and think on the One who has already accomplished it all for you, and in Whose presence you stand:

To fear God is to be honest and upright, because you know that God is watching you, even if there is no one else. It is believing that there is a God, and that he is very interested in what you are doing. When we fear God, God's presence and plans weigh on us more than the world, the flesh and the devil.–Kevin DeYoung 

The world does not understand this, but only offers weak solutions for fear. As C.S. Lewis describes:


Perfect love, we know, casteth out fear. But so do several other things — ignorance, alcohol, passion, presumption, and stupidity.–C.S. Lewis

Lewis talks about how these false cures for fear stem not only in a love of self, but in an inadequate view of the power and love of God:

I had approached God, or my idea of God, without love, without awe, even without fear. He was, in my mental picture of this miracle, to appear neither as Saviour nor as Judge, but merely as a magician; and when He had done what was required on Him I supposed He would simply – well, go away. It never crossed my mind that the tremendous contact which I solicited should have any consequences beyond restoring the status quo.-C.S. Lewis 

Do you see God as a sort of “magician,” or as savior and judge? 

Politics in the United States and in the west seems to have become a sort of civil religion in recent years. Perhaps it has always been that way. I have noticed that every election seems to be an almost life-or-death situation, where the wrong vote can lead to either to the “death of democracy” or restoration of freedom and family values to the country and culture. When a vote does not go well for a party that is favored by believers, many Christians are quick to post Psalm 146:3, “Put not your trust in princes…” on their social media page. 

While this is a most accurate and biblical sentiment, I cannot help but wonder how many of us would be inclined to post this before the votes are cast, or when the vote goes well for the favored party? In all the weeping and joy of politics, the hope of those who fear the God of Jacob should be there despite an election.

Solomon, who is a king himself, reminds you that holy wisdom is above all powers on earth:

14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom;
I am understanding, I have strength.–Proverbs 8:14

Even the wisest, most freedom-loving political candidate owes his or her power and position to the God in whom you fear. The phrasing here is as one who advises a king, her insight is a gift given as a lover gives affection. A reminder that all earthly power has its source in God:

15 By me kings reign,
And rulers decree justice.–Proverbs 8:15

Nations are but a “drop in the bucket” (Isaiah 40:5), and any hope you place in them is unfounded if it is not first hope placed in God. This is what Jesus says while standing before Pilate–who claimed to have the power of life and death over him: 

11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”–John 19:11

Whom do you fear? A politician? A criminal assailant? Your boss? The opinions of others? Do you dread a bad economy? Losing your job? Not being able to retire? The list may be long, but each one of them is rooted in earthy fear, and not in knowledge of an all-powerful holy God who calls you to wisdom and righteousness. Artist Zach Williams' song "Fear is a Liar" speaks of how fear pulls you away from holy fear of a powerful, loving God: 

Fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
'Cause fear he is a liar

Let Your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let Your fire fall Your love is all I feel

When you fear God instead of man, it allows you to live at your fullest before your heavenly Father. Holy fear orders your life and, with your mind on the One who has saved you, you stand tall before the evils of this world. It lets you live in love and honor, as Peter tells you:

17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.–I Peter 2:17.  

Are you frightened? Do not be afraid of things that go bump in the night, for your Father is with you, and He bumps back.


The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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