In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
Our life is a journey through the valley of the shadow of death. Many evils befall us as we make our way through this dark and treacherous valley. We must deal with loss of loved ones, health issues, financial struggles, wayward family members, and the list goes on and on. This makes the valley of the shadow of death also a valley of tears.
In the proverb that we consider for this meditation we are instructed that the Lord’s children have strong confidence as they face the many evils of this life. Their confidence is rooted in the most wonderful truth that they shall always have a place of refuge. However, they enjoy this confidence only as they live in the fear of the Lord their God.
This is God’s wisdom for His beloved children!
We do well to understand and heed it!
The Lord and His children!
The name “Lord” is “Jehovah,” which means “I AM.” It is a name that emphasizes God’s power and sovereignty. No one else can say “I AM,” only “I was created.” Jehovah, the great I AM, is the eternal, sovereign God who creates, upholds, and rules all things.
The name “Jehovah” is also connected to the covenant God has with His elect people. It is His covenant name. God’s covenant is the bond of friendship that He establishes with His people in Jesus Christ. In that covenant, God brings salvation to His people, dwells with them, provides for all their needs, and protects them from all their enemies. The name “Jehovah” emphasizes God’s faithfulness to His covenant.
This passage also speaks of the children of Jehovah. Jehovah God makes His elect people His children. They are not His children by natural birth. By nature they are the children of the devil on account of the fall. However, God makes them His children in Jesus Christ and does so in two ways. First, He adopts them as His children on the basis of Christ’s perfect payment for sin. Then He transforms them into His image by a new birth in the power of Jesus’ resurrection. This is necessary in order to bring them into His covenant and to live with them as friends.
One of the outstanding characteristics of the children of Jehovah is that they fear Him.
We must understand the nature of this fear.
Obviously we are not talking about the fear of unbelief. This is the fear that the citizens of Jericho had when the army of Israel approached—as it was reported to the spies by Rahab (). Theirs was the fear of Jehovah’s wrath and judgment.
The fear of the children of Jehovah is the fear of faith. It is a fear of loving adoration and of reverence for the Lord as He reveals Himself in the works of His hand. The works of God are marvelous. Out of nothing He created this grand universe in which we live, and by His power He rules all things. How awesome! But especially awesome are the works of salvation in Jesus Christ. In Christ, Jehovah God saves a people who are hopelessly lost in sin. He covers their sin by the blood of His own Son. He transforms them into His own dear children and lives with them in eternal bliss. In this work of salvation all the wonderful virtues of God are brilliantly on display. The fear of faith is a loving adoration and holy reverence of the Lord for these works.
This fear also generates grateful service of the Lord.
This fear is the distinguishing mark of the children of Jehovah. This is because the children of Jehovah have tasted these works of salvation. Those who know that work of salvation in their lives will necessarily fear him.
Many evils await the children of the Lord as they make their pilgrimage through life.
There are the difficulties that face mankind generally as he lives on the earth dominated by the curse. These include such things as financial struggles, sickness and debilitating illness, marriage and family problems, loss of loved ones . . . .
In addition, there are the attempts of the powers of darkness to destroy their faith and to rob them of their inheritance. The devil comes with the pleasures of sin to lure them away from God. The devil also comes in times of adversity to discourage them so that they will rebel against God. In turn, the more they reveal themselves to be the children of the Most High, the more the world hates and opposes them. And it appears as though the time for the world to tolerate the Lord’s children is running out.
As they face these things, the children of Jehovah have strong confidence.
Confidence has the idea of secure and firm hope for the future. Confidence is the certainty that all is well, regardless how bad the present is or the future looks. The present evils will not overcome us. And there are good things coming in the future.
This idea is strengthened by the word “strong.” This proverb is not speaking of some uncertain, hesitant hope. It speaks of a sure and confident hope for future good.
And this confidence is what the children of Jehovah have.
Take some of the worst-case scenarios. Your loved one is dying, or has died, leaving you alone. Or you are suffering a lingering, debilitating illness. Or you are out of work and will lose your house. And it could be worse. Think of Job and the misery he suffered. If you are a child of Jehovah, you can have good confidence. You can be confident that these things will not destroy you. Good things are just ahead.
The children of Jehovah have this strong confidence because they shall always have a place of refuge.
When trouble threatens, confidence is possible only when there is a place of refuge. A place of refuge is a safe place. In Bible times, refuge from the enemy was a hiding place, a hilltop, or even a fortress from which to defend oneself. A place of refuge can also be a person who will stand at your side to keep you safe. Only when we have such a place of refuge can we have confidence in the face of danger or trouble.
The children of Jehovah shall always have such a place of refuge. And that place of refuge is Jehovah Himself. This is repeatedly emphasized in the Psalms. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (). “I cried unto thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living” ( ). “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” ( ).
Jehovah is our refuge in Jesus Christ.
As our covenant God, Jehovah sent His Son into our flesh to bear the punishment of sin and to secure the eternal salvation of His elect church. Jehovah also exalted Jesus to His own right hand of power, so that Jesus might bestow upon His children the blessings of salvation and keep them safe from all harm. Our exalted Lord keeps them safe by limiting what the powers of darkness can do to assail them, by strengthening them to overcome temptation and walk in the way of the covenant, by leading them to the cross to find forgiveness when they falter, by causing all things to work for their good, and finally by destroying all the powers of darkness.
And because the Lord’s children have such a place of refuge in their covenant God, they have good confidence for the future.
This strong confidence is enjoyed only as one lives in the fear of the Lord.
Those who fear the Lord stand in awe of Him for His great works of salvation. They are in awe of His work in Jesus Christ to cover their sins in order to reconcile them to Himself. They are in awe of His great works to preserve them and keep them safe throughout history. They believe and stand in awe of His promises to provide for His own at all times and even make all things work for their good.
In that fear they know that there is safety with their covenant God and in Jesus Christ His Son. They also flee to Jehovah God for safety so that they have confidence. They flee to Jehovah for safety when they are tempted, when they in weakness fall into sin, when they are persecuted, and when evil of any kind comes. This is the nature of the true fear of Jehovah.
And, finding a place of refuge in Jehovah, they are confident for the present and the future.
Let us fear Jehovah our God.
It is the nature of a child of Jehovah to fear Him. However, because the works of grace are not finished in us, we do not fear Him as we ought. We are often so busy with other things that we do not take the time to reflect on the great works of God. Due to our own neglect we often fail to enjoy these blessings of salvation as we could. The result is that we do not fear Him as we ought.
And when our fear of the Lord is lacking, we often do not flee to the Lord for refuge. Nor is our confidence in the Lord strong.
So let us grow in the fear of the Lord. Let us do that by turning to His Word, which reveals His great works and promises. Let us turn to Him in prayer to seek the greater riches of His salvation.
Then we will find in Him a place of refuge during the storms of life and have good confidence for the future.
This is the wisdom of God!
To do anything else is sheer folly!