The Marks of True Religion – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How is “the fear of Jehovah” described in Proverbs 14:27 (printed below?)

The fear of Jehovah is a fountain of life, causing a man to turn from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:27)

Proverbs here defines the fear of the Lord as a source of life; it is compared to a spring of water issuing from the ground, such is a welcome and vital source of life in an arid land like Israel (note Proverbs 19:23). The fear of the Lord is a source of life precisely because it turns us away from “the snares of death.” Temptation, the invitation and allurement of sin, is viewed as a snare (or trap) that kills its victims. But the fear of the Lord confronts us with the fatal outcome that finally results from yielding to temptation and motivates us to resist temptation (note James 1:14-16).

2. According to Proverbs 14:2 (printed below,) how is a godly fear of the Lord (Jehovah) expressed?

He who walks in uprightness fears Jehovah, but he whose ways are perverse despises him. (Proverbs 14:2)

A true fear of the Lord is expressed in the form of obedience. A holy fear of the Lord does not merely or even mainly consist in an emotion of terror and dread of just retribution; that is the characteristic of the ungodly (note James 2:19b). A holy fear of the Lord is a work of grace that moves a man to turn away from evil and walk in obedience (note, again, Hebrews 11:7), motivated not only by fear of retribution but even more by the unbearable prospect of being separated from Christ, the One who is the supreme object of our love (note John 13:6-9). A true fear of the Lord consists of a reverence and devotion to the Lord as much as, if not more than, a fear of retribution (1 Samuel 12:23)

3. What is one blessed result of possessing and exhibiting a holy fear of the Lord? See Proverbs 14:26 (printed below)

In the fear of Jehovah there is strong confidence, and his children shall have a place of refuge. (Proverbs 14:26)

The fear of the Lord is described as a source of sure confidence, a sure refuge, a strong protective fortress (note Psalm 34:7). When the latter half of the proverb declares, “his children shall have a place of refuge,” the pronoun “his” is either referring to the Lord and reaffirming the fact that He, indeed, is a sure refuge for those who fear Him; or the pronoun is referring to the man who fears the Lord and is indicating that as his God-fearing life is witnessed (and imitated) by his children, they, too, will discover the same truth: the Lord is a sure refuge for those who fear Him (cp. Psalm 103:17-18).

4. Consider Proverbs 29:25 (printed below.) How would you explain the first part of this proverb? What assurance is provided in the latter half of the proverb?

The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever puts his trust in Jehovah shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

According to Proverbs 29:25a, the fear of man (the fear of losing his favor, the fear of incurring his wrath) becomes a snare that restrains our activity (in word and in deed) on behalf of righteousness. Too often the sinful question, “What will they do?” takes precedence over the righteous question, “What should I do?” (note John 12:42-43 and Galatians 2:12 as examples). Proverbs 29:25b goes on to say, “whoever puts his trust in Jehovah shall be safe” (literally, he “shall be set on high.”) Here is not only the promise of God’s protective care (to be set on high was to be set out of danger), here is also the promise that God will bestow honor upon us as we reject the fear of man by placing our confidence in the Lord and doing what is right in His sight (note 1 Samuel 2:30b).

5. What message and what promise are contained in Proverbs 28:25 (printed below?)

He who has a greedy spirit stirs up strife, but he who puts his trust in Jehovah shall be made fat. (Proverbs 28:25)

The context indicates that trust in the Lord not only involves confidence and commitment, but also contentment. The man who trusts in the Lord is contrasted with the man who has a greedy spirit. Conversely, that contentment stems from confidence in the Lord; the promise of Scripture is that the man who trusts in the Lord “shall be made fat.” That is to say, in His time the Lord shall abundantly bless that man who trusts in Him.