There can be no doubt about it that a godly woman who with a single heart seeks God in life is of utmost importance to the church of Christ. This is true of her in her calling as a single woman in the church or a married woman. Given her unique calling according to her gender, she has much to offer to her fellow believers and to the church as a whole. For that reason, Scripture places much emphasis on her importance for the future church, that is, the next generation that must be carefully trained in the ways of God. In light of the extreme feminism of our day the church is always concerned with extolling the virtues of godly women in the home and church.
When doing so, however, the church may not forget how important a role men have in the home and church too. Often-times heavy burdens are placed on the women of the church, while men think that little is required of them. Such an attitude is contrary to Scripture, which indeed places a tremendous calling on the shoulders of men, not only in the church but in the family as well. A man’s role is that of loving, gentle, conscientious headship—a grave responsibility that requires much of him. The burden of this broadcast, then, is to show to the men of the church their calling before God. It points out to men of the church the need every man has to fear Jehovah. This is true of the woman too, of course. But certainly this is where it all begins with a man and his calling too: he must fear Jehovah. If there is no fear of God, the men of the church cannot possibly fulfill their calling in the church and family. Hence, the Word of God before us today: Psalm 25:12-13, “What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.”
What man is he that fears Jehovah? That is the question that confronts us, believing men. Notice why David raises this question. We read in verse 11, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.” David is fully aware of his shortcomings and sins as a man of God. What man is there that fears Jehovah? With humility we consider this Word of God today.
I. Taught By Jehovah
It is striking that the Holy Spirit led David to ask the question we find at the beginning of verse 12, rather than simply making a statement. David could very well have written: “The Lord will teach the man who fears Him in the way he shall choose.” But the Spirit led David to ask the question: What man is there that fears the Lord? We must take note of this. The infallible Scripture records for us a question in order to point out a couple of very important truths. We alluded to the first of these truths in our introduction. The implied answer to the question is, there are only a few that truly fear Jehovah. Though God’s command goes out to every person: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man,” nevertheless, Paul tells us, when describing the depravity of the human race in Romans 3, that there is none that seeks God. There is no fear of God before men’s eyes.
It is obvious that to fear God takes a work of God’s grace in a person’s life. The only man that will truly fear God is one in whom God has worked salvation from sin through the work of our Savior on the cross. Without the work of salvation, fallen man will never fear God. There is nothing in him and there is no influence on him that will teach him the fear of God. He is lost in his sin, and such sin is enmity against God and His law. The only kind of fear of God that may be found in the heart of a wicked man is that of fright and terror—nothing more.
But even in the church, among those who believe, there is not a man who perfectly fears Jehovah. Now, that is a bold statement! Even among believing men there are none who have a perfect fear of Jehovah. If we did, then what we recounted in our introduction would not be true of us. If there were a perfect fear of God, there would be no sin! The psalmist is keenly aware of this. Remember not the sins of my youth, he exclaims in verse 7. Or verse 11 once again: “O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great!” A man that truly fears God with heart, mind, soul, and strength would flee sin and devote himself entirely to godly service. What man is he that fears—truly fears—Jehovah?
To understand this question, of course, we need to consider the second all-important truth revealed in it. We need to consider what the fear of God is. Everywhere God’s Word enjoins us as believers to fear God. We have already noticed that the fear of God is a work of God’s grace in our hearts. It is ours by virtue of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. And it is the Spirit of Christ whom He sends forth to dwell in us that instills such fear in God’s children.
But what is this fear of which our text speaks? Well, in the first place, it is knowledge. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, Solomon teaches us. It is a knowledge that God is Most High. He sits in the heavens, and the earth is His footstool. He reigns over all of the creatures of His hands. He is the sovereign God who governs all things to fulfill His sovereign will and good pleasure. He is the holy God in whom dwells no sin or imperfection. He is pure goodness and shines in a glory that is brighter than the sun. But God is also a God of mercy and loving kindness. God is a Father to His people. He loves His children and pities them in their woes. He upholds and guides His people and afterwards receives them to glory. He does not hold our sins against us but covers them in the blood of Christ. He has declared us righteous in His sight. God establishes His covenant with us. David writes in verse 14, “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” To fear God is to know Him with the knowledge of faith. That knowledge is not merely an intellectual knowledge, although that is true too. It is also to know God with the intimate knowledge by which we love Him and learn to trust in Him.
And that leads us to a second aspect of the fear of God—we love Him! We love God intimately, as children love their father. We stand in awe before God. There is no one greater than our Father in heaven! We admire Him. We look up to Him. He is our Father! There is none greater!
And then, finally, fearing God is seeking to please Him. A man who fears Jehovah is not afraid of God as are the wicked. He does not fear divine retribution for his sin. His sins are pardoned. But the believer’s fear is that of deep respect for and reverence of this God. The man who fears God does not want to offend God. He hates it when God is displeased with him for doing something wrong. He is deeply aware that God’s eye is upon him at all times. God knows the deepest thoughts and intents of his heart. And therefore a man who fears God strives in his thoughts, words, and actions to keep the commandments of His Father and do His will. What man listening today fears Jehovah? Those redeemed in the blood of Christ can with confidence raise their hands to that question. We do not fear perfectly, but we do fear God. What grace God has shown us in our lives! Christ has so worked in us by His Spirit that we do know, love, and seek to please God. That is the fear of Jehovah.
Here is the first benefit of fearing Jehovah: him will God teach in the way that he shall choose. That is a fantastic benefit, God-fearing men! I know, it is not a benefit that belongs exclusively to men. It belongs to the women of the church too. But we are addressing specifically the men of the church in our broadcast today—boys, young men, and old men. When we fear God, then God shows us the way that we will need to choose. God will direct us to make wise choices in life! That is the idea of the psalmist. It is not that God will teach us in the way He as God chooses for us. This is true too, of course. God sovereignly leads us in life and He teaches us—sometimes through the hard knocks of life—the way He has chosen for us. But that is not the truth that stands on the foreground here in this Word of God. It is this: When we fear God, He will give us wisdom to make the right choices in life!
You see, life is full of choices. God has created man that way. Man is a rational, volitional creature. He has been given by God a mind and a will. As a result, man has the ability to choose. Some of those choices are foolish and some are wise. Some of those choices are sinful and some are pure. I am talking of a believer, of course. The only spiritual choice that fallen man makes apart from the work of Christ will always be sinful, even though from a worldly point of view it may be a wise choice or decision. It will not please God. But the point is, we are called by God to make decisions in this life. And this begins early in life. Young men are called by God to decide whom to marry or what career to settle on. He will need to decide responsibly about the church he is called to attend. He will make decisions about his family: where to live and how to lead it. And these are but a few examples. Choices will be made your whole life long, men who fear the Lord.
This then is the benefit of fearing God: God will teach the right way to go in these decisions! That is the huge concern of the psalmist in this psalm, that God will teach him the way he should go. The man who fears God will receive the benefit of being taught by God. God will lead Him in the way of righteousness in the decisions he makes. The man who decides to make all the choices we spoke of on his own, apart from the fear of God, will mess up his life! That is what it comes down to. Do not walk in the fear of God, and your life—from a spiritual point of view now—will be a mess. The way down which you walk will lead you away from God and His church into a life of misery and sin. As a young man you will walk in the way of fornication, greed, and irresponsibility—perhaps even becoming a drunk or an addict. You will not choose the right wife or husband. You will not be a proper head of your home and family. You will make choices that will destroy your home and family. But the man who fears Jehovah seeks to be taught of God. He is led by God’s Spirit and Word. He loves God and seeks to please His Father in the ways down which he walks. And God will take such a man by the hand and lead him in the way He should go. The Word of God and prayer will be his guide.
II. Upheld by Jehovah
The second benefit is recorded for us in verse 13 of Psalm 25: “His soul shall dwell at ease.” Now, I know how those who teach a prosperity religion would interpret this phrase. They would say: “See! When we trust in the Lord, then He will make us to dwell at ease in this world! He will give us prosperity and honor and an easy life. And if we do not receive these of God’s hands, they would say, then it is only because we do not fear God enough.” That definitely is not the idea of the psalmist here in the Word of God before us. This Word is far more comforting than that. In the first place, the psalmist here speaks of the soul of the believer. He is not saying that the believer is going to receive all kinds of riches and honor in life. He is saying that the believer’s soul, that is, the inner being of a man, the thoughts of his heart, will be at ease.
All will be well with His soul.
In the second place, the psalmist says here that the soul of a man who fears Jehovah will be at ease, that is, his soul will be in a good state, cheerful. A man’s inner disposition will be happy and content. That comes as a result of fearing Jehovah. That too is an important benefit of fearing God: when we can say, “It is well with my soul!” Everything is ok. There is no need to be disturbed and upset. When we know who God is and that all things are under His sovereign control; when we know God as our Father who loves us and does all things for our good, then our soul is at ease. You see, there are many burdens and cares we confront as we walk our way in this life. We may make choices that are pleasing to God. We may be wise in our decisions. But that does not mean that God will not send adversities in our lives. The path down which we walk can oftentimes be rocky and rough. God sends afflictions or sets before us those who would seek to disturb the tranquility of our souls. We deal with sin in us and sin in others. We are called to toil in order to make a living in this world. Life can become humdrum and monotonous. Life, quite frankly, can be hard. But the man who fears Jehovah in all this is at ease in his soul. All is well with him—even when he faces persecution, poverty, sickness, or death. And this is true because his soul rests in the Lord.
David asks God to teach him in his ways. The more we know of God’s dealings with us, the more content we are. When we see God’s hand of providence, we understand that nothing is happening in this world by chance. God is directing everything in our own lives in relation to this world. When we contemplate the truth that God is Jehovah, the God of the covenant; when we know that He is always faithful to us, that He will always do us good, and that He will never forsake us, then our souls are at ease.
Without this knowledge, life is miserable and hopeless. Without the fear of God, our souls will be restless and discontent. Then where are we going to turn in our frustrations? To the bottle? To drugs? To fornication? What will you do, young man, when you are confronted with adversity and frustration in life? Where will you turn? Will you rebel and turn from the church and from God? What man is he that fears Jehovah? His soul will be at ease!
III. Preserved By Jehovah
One more benefit is listed for us in verse 13, the seed of the man who fears Jehovah shall inherit the earth. This simply means that God will preserve, in the generations of the church, the children of that man who fears God. When a young man fears God, and because of that enters into marriage with a woman who fears God, God is good to them in their generations. If that man and woman raise their children in the fear of God, then their children will remain steadfast in the church. They will “carry the torch,” so to speak, in the next generation. Not all of the children of a God-fearing man will necessarily be saved. Not all will inherit a place in Christ’s church. Only those who are in Christ by a true and living faith and who themselves fear God will be preserved. But God will indeed save a seed unto Himself from among the generations of believers. That too is a benefit of fearing God: a man shall see his children’s children and peace upon Israel.
Such children will inherit the earth. Not this present earth, of course. This earth will perish. While it exists, sin will only increase. The meek shall not inherit this earth. Why would we want to inherit an earth filled with sin and overrun by our enemies? No, the children of those who fear God will inherit the new earth—an earth in which righteousness will dwell. It will be that new earth that, together with a new heaven, will make up the eternal state into which all those who fear God will enter.
What man is he that fears Jehovah? May Christ’s church, as He gathers her in this world, be filled with God-fearing men!