I have been mediating on the safety that can be found in fearing the Lord while studying 1 and 2 Samuel recently.
While God is loving, good, full of grace and mercy, and patient. God is also just, and wrathful and angry and God disciplines his children. We miss a critical part of the gospel if we only consider God's goodness and don't also consider God's justice.The Bible is full of verses about fearing the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, Psalm 111:10). Fear of the Lord is a hatred of evil (Proverbs 8:13). Fear of the Lord turns us from evil (Proverbs 16:6). It is this issue of the fear of the Lord protecting us from evil that I want to take up in this post.
In 1 Samuel, starting in chapter 19, David was on the run from Saul who was trying to kill him. On two occasions, chapter 24 and 26 , David finds himself with the opportunity to take Saul's life.
In chapter 24, David finds himself in a cave and Saul comes in use the facilities and is in a vulnerable position. David is able to sneak up on him and take a corner of Saul's robe. While David's men encourage him to kill Saul, While David had the promise that he would become king, David is protected from taking the situation into his own hands. David realizes that Saul is God's anointed king, and it is up to God to determine how Saul will lose the kingship and how David will gain it.
"May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you." (1 Samuel 24:12)
In chapter 26, the Lord puts Saul's army in a deep sleep and David is able to walk right up to Saul in the middle of the night. Again David refrained. "And David said, 'As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord's anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.' So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul's head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them." (1 Samuel 26:10-12)
In Chapter 31, Saul is on the brink of destruction and asks his his armor bearer to kill him. The armor bearer refuses. Why? The armor bearer feared the Lord. "Then Saul said to his armor-bearer, 'Draw your sword, and thrust me through with it, lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and mistreat me.' But his armor-bearer would not, for he feared greatly." (1 Samuel 31:4a)
And 2 Samuel opens we find an Ammalekite has brought David Saul's crown and reports that he had a hand in killing Saul. (2 Samuel 1:10) David is not ecstatic at the possibility of being king, he grieves the lose of Saul, of his son Jonathan, Saul's heir, and the lose of God's people. (2 Samuel 1:12)
David is not ecstatic at the possibility of being king; David is concerned because the Amalekite did not fear the Lord. "David said to him, 'How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?' Then David called one of the young men and said, 'Go, execute him.' And he struck him down so that he died. And David said to him, 'Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, I have killed the Lord's anointed.’” (2 Samuel 1:14-16)
David found protection from temptation through his fear of the Lord. David did not want to take matters into his own hand. God's plan was perfect, David's role was to trust in the Lord and follow God's will not David's will. The armor bearer did not obey Saul, he feared, he refused to kill God's anointed. The Amalekite on the other hand did not fear the Lord. The irony is that the Amalekite didn't even kill Saul, 1 Samuel 31:4-5 reveals that Saul in fact committed suicide. He lied, but underneath the lie was a heart that did not fear God. David killed the Amalekite for not fearing the Lord. Sin will be exposed and justice will be served (Ps 51:6; Ps 90:8; Acts 5:1-11; Luke 12:2-3; Rom 2:16).
There is safety in fearing the Lord. When we meditate seriously on God's holiness and justice, on God's law, it produces a fear in us that helps us make choices that pursue righteousness instead of sin. Fearing the Lord is one of the tools that God gives us to fight temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
David gives us the following words in Psalm 1
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Lord help me to fear you and pursue righteousness. Help me be obedient. My sin is against a perfectly holy God and the debt could only be paid for by the blood of the Jesus who lived a perfectly righteous life and imputed his righteousness on me and took my sin upon himself. Help me now live in obedience with a fear of God grounded in a love.