The Fear of God

by Dr. Franklin Kirksey, pastor
FBC, Spanish Fort, Ala.

Texts: Ecclesiastes 3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12-13; and 12:13

Introduction
Dr. Thomas L. Trevethan concludes, “No book of Scripture helps us understand the connection between joy and the fear of the Lord better than Ecclesiastes.  This statement will strike some as more than a little wide of the mark.  How can a book that talks about life as ‘meaningless’ (‘vanity,’ 1:2) be about enjoyment?  But perhaps we have not heard the Teacher’s message on its own terms.  Throughout, he is concerned to commend ‘the fear of the LORD’ to his readers (3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12-13), and his overall conclusion is particularly clear:

Remember your Creator

In the days of your youth. . . .

Now all has been heard;

Here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep his commandments,

For this is the whole duty of man.

For God will bring every deed into judgment,

Including every hidden thing,

Whether it is good of evil. (Eccles. 12:1, 13-14)”

Dr. Trevethan later explains, “To see this claim demonstrated through a careful study of the entire text of Ecclesiastes, see Stafford Wright, ‘The Interpretation of Ecclesiastes,’ in Classical Evangelical Essays on Old Testament Interpretation, ed., Walter C. Kaiser (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1972), pp, 133-50; and Walter C. Kaiser, Total Life (Chicago: Moody Press, 1978).”[1]

In his informative and inspirational article titled, “God and Man in Ecclesiastes,” Dr. Roy B. Zuck (1932-2013) senior professor emeritus of Biblical Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, writes, “Fearing God stands at the heart of wisdom literature (Job 28:28; Ps. 111:10; Prov. 1:7; 9:10).  Hence it is no surprise  that in Ecclesiastes man is commanded five times to fear God (3:14; 5:7; 7:18; 8:12-13; 12:13), to recognize who He is and to respond accordingly in worship, awe, love, trust, and obedience.”[2]

Allow me to share about the fear of God.

I. The fear of God is awakened by a revelation of God.
From Ecclesiastes 3:14 we read, “I know that whatever God does, / It shall be forever.  Nothing can be added to it, / And nothing taken from it.  God does it, / that men should fear before Him.”

Dr. William S. Plumer (1802-1880) writes, “Godly fear is a saving grace. It is declared to be a part of true religion in all dispensations. ‘They shall fear you as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.’ Psalm 72:5. So that religion without love is not more spurious than religion without godly fear.

One of the most striking features of synagogue worship for centuries past has been an evident lack of profound reverence for God in the entire manner of conducting the religious services of the Jews. The basis of this fear is found in the nature, word, and works of God. Jehovah is ‘the great and dreadful God.’ We must gain a knowledge of him. ‘As the justice of God and his anger must be apprehended before he can be feared slavishly, so the majesty of God and his goodness must be understood before he can be feared filially. Who can stand in awe of a majesty he is ignorant of? Men, knowing not God’s nature, have often presumed so much upon his mercy, that they have been destroyed by his justice.’

Any right thoughts of God’s amazing purity of nature will surely beget a pious fear of him. Because he is ‘glorious in holiness—he is fearful in praises.’ ‘As the approach of a grave and serious man makes children hasten their trifles out of the way; so would the consideration of this attribute make us cast away our idols, and our ridiculous thoughts and designs.’ And not only God’s majesty and holiness, but also his love and mercy beget a great fear of him. So says the Psalmist, ‘There is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.’ Psalm 130:4. So says Paul, ‘We receiving a kingdom, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.’ Heb. 12:28. The same is true of God’s power and government. ‘You are great, and your name is great in might; who would not fear you, O King of nations?’ Jer. 10:6, 7. Jesus Christ told us to fear him who had power to cast into hell. Luke 12:5. In like manner, to fear and tremble at God’s word is an effect produced on the heart of all the pious. So the Scriptures teach; so God’s people experience.

And how often does God awaken sentiments of fear, not only by exhibitions of his wrath and displays of his power, but by marvelous acts of his grace and mercy towards the rebellious and perishing. Psalm 40:3; Acts 2:43. There are some remarkable examples of the fear of God recorded in Scripture. One is that of Moses, mentioned in Heb. 12:21, where it is said that the giving of the law on mount Sinai produced the deepest awe and even terror. ‘So terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.’ A similar record is made by Isaiah: ‘In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and His robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above Him; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; His glory fills the whole earth. The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke. Then I said: Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty’ (Isaiah 6:1-5).

A still more remarkable effect, if possible, was produced on the prophet Habakkuk by an unusual display of God’s glory. The song reads thus: ‘His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His brilliance is like light; rays are flashing from His hand. This is where His power is hidden. Plague goes before Him, and pestilence follows in His steps. He stands and shakes the earth; He looks and startles the nations. The age-old mountains break apart; the ancient hills sink down. His pathways are ancient. I see the tents of Cushan in distress; the tent curtains of the land of Midian tremble. Are You angry at the rivers, Lord? Is Your wrath against the rivers? Or is Your rage against the sea when You ride on Your horses, Your victorious chariot? You took the sheath from Your bow; the arrows are ready to be used with an oath. You split the earth with rivers. The mountains see You and shudder; a downpour of water sweeps by. The deep roars with its voice and lifts its waves high. Sun and moon stand still in their lofty residence, at the flash of Your flying arrows, at the brightness of Your shining spear. You march across the earth with indignation; You trample down the nations in wrath. You come out to save Your people, to save Your anointed. You crush the leader of the house of the wicked and strip him from foot to neck. You pierce his head with his own spears; his warriors storm out to scatter us, gloating as if ready to secretly devour the weak. You tread the sea with Your horses, stirring up the great waters. I heard, and I trembled within; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness entered my bones; I trembled where I stood’ (Habakkuk 3:3-16).

A reason given by Paul for serving God with reverence and godly fear, is that he ‘is a consuming fire.’ Heb. 12:28, 29. A very high degree of holy fear is therefore well founded. There is cause for adoring reverence for the heavenly Majesty. Although there is not much said in modern writers respecting the fear of God, yet it is different with those who lived long ago. Thus says Hall, ‘There is a trembling that may consist with joy. Trembling is an effect of fear, but the fear which we must cherish is reverential, not slavish, not distrustful. I will so distrust myself, that I may be steadfastly confident in the God of my salvation. I will so tremble before the glorious majesty of my God, that I may not abate anything of the joy of his never-failing mercy.’”[3]

From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary we read, “. . . observing deep reverence towards God; for the mysteriousness and unchangeableness of God’s purposes are designed to lead ‘man to fear before Him.’ Man knows not the event of each act: otherwise he would think himself independent of God.”[4]

Matthew Poole (1624-1679) comments on Ecclesiastes 3:14:  “Whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever; all God’s counsels or decrees are eternal and unchangeable, and his providence works effectually, so as men cannot resist or hinder it.

Nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; men can neither do any thing besides or against God’s counsel and providence, nor hinder any work or act of it.

That men should fear before him; not that men should make this an occasion of despair, or idleness, or dissoluteness, as some abuse this doctrine, but that, by the consideration of his sovereign and irresistible power in the disposal of all persons and things as pleaseth him, men should learn to trust in him, to submit to him, to fear to offend or rebel against him, and more carefully and industriously to study to please him.”[5]

II. The fear of God is expressed in a relationship with God.
In Ecclesiastes 5:7 we read, “For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God.”  Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe comments, “People make empty vows because they live in a religious ‘dream world’; they think that words are the same as deeds (v. 7). Their worship is not serious, so their words are not dependable. They enjoy the ‘good feelings’ that come when they make their promises to God, but they do themselves more harm than good. They like to ‘dream’ about fulfilling their vows, but they never get around to doing it. They practice a make-believe religion that neither glorifies God nor builds Christian character.”[6]

Dr. J. Vernon McGee comments, “In ‘dreams and many words there are also divers vanities’ — that is, all kinds of emptiness. They are no substitute for a personal relationship with God. So many people say, ‘I have had a dream’ or ‘I have had an experience.’ And they are putting their trust in that. There are many people today who use an experience to test the Word of God. It must be the other way around: All experience must be tested by the Word of God. We are instructed to try the spirits to see whether they are of God or not (see 1 John 4:1). Too many people go out on a tangent of experience and live by that. That is merely religion. That is an appeal to the emotion, an appeal to the aesthetic sense.

My friend, does your faith in Christ rest upon experience, or does it rest upon the naked Word of God? Do you have religion, or do you have Christ?”[7]

James Foster writes, “Cultivate a supreme reverence for God. These two—fear of man and fear of God—are absolutely inconsistent, and cannot subsist together.”[8]

III. The fear of God is demonstrated through a restraint under God.
We read in Ecclesiastes 7:18, “It is good that you grasp this, / And also not remove your hand from the other; / For he who fears God will escape them all.”

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe comments, “Verses 16-18 have been misunderstood by those who say that Solomon was teaching ‘moderation’ in everyday life: don’t be too righteous, but don’t be too great a sinner. . . .  Verse 18 balances the warning: we should take hold of true righteousness and should not withdraw from true wisdom, and the way to do it is to walk in the fear of God. ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Prov. 9:10), and Jesus Christ is to the believer ‘wisdom and righteousness’ (1 Cor. 1:30), so God’s people need not ‘manufacture’ these blessings themselves.”[9]

From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary note, “the two opposite excesses (Eccl 7:16, 17), fanatical, self-wise righteousness, and presumptuous, foolhardy wickedness.  he that feareth God shall come forth of them all—shall escape all such extremes (Pr 3:7).”[10]

Rev. Matthew Poole comments, “Take hold of, embrace and practise, this; this counsel last given, Ec 7:17. Also from this; from that foregoing advice, Ec 7:16. It is good to avoid both those extremes.  Withdraw not thine hand from the practice of it.  He that feareth God, who ordereth his actions so as to please God, and keep his commands, and walk by the rule of his word, shall come forth of them all; shall be delivered from both these, and from all other extremes, and from all the evil consequences of them. The word all is sometimes put for both, as being used of two only, as Ec 2:14.”[11]

Someone simply known as A. Symson shares the following on “The fear of God a restraining influence”:

This secret fear, if it be once planted in the heart, will direct thee in all good actions acceptable to God, and correct thy evil doings. The love of God hath a constraining power whereby it compelleth and forceth us to serve Him: the fear of God hath a restraining power, by which it restraineth and stayeth us, and keepeth us back from offending Him: this is like a bit, that like a spur. Abraham feared that the fear of God was not in the place whereto he went. Joseph being enticed by his mistress to commit wickedness with her, answered, How can I do this great wickedness, and so sin against God? The Lord plant this fear in our hearts. This is a filial fear which he craveth, coming from love, and not a servile fear, which cometh from fear of punishment. The preserver of this fear in thee is a continual nourishment in thy mind of the presence of God, to whom thou presentest all thy actions. Will He teach the way that he shall choose.”[12]

Dr. Thomas Secker (1693-1768) writes, “‘True religion the evidence of a good understanding’:  We all naturally desire happiness. We all know that obtaining it greatly depends on a wise choice of our conduct in life; and yet very few examine, with any care, what conduct is likeliest to procure us the felicity that we seek. There is deeply rooted in the heart of man an inbred sense of right and wrong, which, however heedlessly overlooked or studiously suppressed by the gay or the busy part of the world, will from time to time make them both feel that it hath the justest authority to govern all that we do, as well as power to reward with the truest consolation and punish with the acutest remorse. Some see the absolute necessity of bringing virtue and duty into the account when they deliberate concerning the behaviour that leads to happiness; but they affect to set up virtue in opposition to piety, and think to serve the former by deprecating the latter. Perhaps only relatively few venture to deny the existence of a First Cause. If there exists a Sovereign of the universe, almighty and all-wise, it cannot be a matter that we are unconcerned in. He must have intended that we should pay Him those regards which are His due—a proper temperature of fear and love: two affections which ought never to be separated in thinking of God; whichever is expressed implies the other. This is the true wisdom of man. Consider its influence—

I. On the conduct. God has not planted in us passions, affections, and appetites, to grow up wild as accident directs, but to be diligently superintended, weeded, and pruned, and each confined to its proper bounds. It would both be unjust and unwise to reject the smallest inducement to any part of goodness; for we greatly need every one that we can have. But it is extremely requisite to observe where our chief security lies, and place our chief trust there. The reasonableness, the dignity, the beauty of virtue are doubtless natural, and ought to be strong recommendations of it. No motive, however, is at all times sufficient, excepting only the fear of God, taught as the truth is in Jesus. This is one unchangeable motive, level to the apprehension of every person, extending to the practice of every duty, including at once every moral disposition of heart and every prudent regard to our own good. The fear of God can pierce the inmost recesses of our minds and search the rightness of our most secret desires. Reverence of God’s authority will make us fear to injure the meanest of our fellow-creatures, and hope of sharing in His bounty will teach us to imitate it by the tenderest exercise of humanity and compassion.

II. What effect the fear of God must have on the enjoyment of our lives. It will make bad people uneasy. It restrains persons from dissolute pleasures. It gives a peculiar seriousness and awe to the minds of men. It moderates the liveliness of over-gay dispositions. As to the sufferings of life, religion prevents many and diminishes the rest. True religion being of such importance, there are some things which may justly be expected of mankind in its favour.”[13]

Dr. George Lawson (1749-1820) writes on, “The happy influence of fear”:  “He is not an unhappy man whose heart is continually governed by this fear. It has a happy influence upon his soul, to guard it from the temptations of Satan and the world, and to keep it close to the Redeemer. It tends not to obstruct but to promote the exercise of faith and hope and joy in the Lord. Thus fear is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and a blessed means of establishing the heart in the love of God. It is a happy sign of an interest in the everlasting covenant of mercy, and in that special favour of God which is the source of all our joys. But wretched is the man who is not afraid to sin against his Maker and Judge. His heart is hard as the nether millstone.”[14]

IV. The fear of God is linked with a reward from God.
From Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 we read, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him.  But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”  Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe comments, “The Preacher concluded that the wicked will eventually be judged and the righteous will be rewarded (vv. 12-13), so it is better to fear the Lord and live a godly life. The evil man may live longer than the godly man. He may appear to get away with sin after sin, but the day of judgment will come and the wicked man will not escape. It is wisdom that points the way; for ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Prov. 9:10).  No matter how long or full the wicked man’s life may seem to be, it is only prolonged like a shadow and has no substance (v. 13). In fact, the shadows get longer as the sun is setting. Solomon may be suggesting that the long life of the wicked man is but a prelude to eternal darkness. What good is a long life if it is only a shadow going into the blackness of darkness forever (Jude 13)?”[15]

From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary note, “He says this, lest the sinner should abuse the statement ‘A wicked man prolongeth his life’ (Eccl 7:15).   before him—literally, ‘at His presence’; reverently serve Him, realizing His continual presence.  Verse 13. neither shall lie prolong—not a contradiction to Eccl 8:12. The ‘prolonging’ of his days there is only seeming, not real. Taking into account his eternal existence, his present days, however seemingly long, are really short. God’s delay (Eccl 8:11) exists only in man’s short-sighted view. It gives scope to the sinner to repent, or else to fill up his full measure of guilt; and so, in either case, tends to the final vindication of God’s ways. It gives exercise to the faith, patience, and perseverance of saints.   shadow—(Eccl 6:12; Job 8:9).”[16]

From the Homilist note the following about the phrase, “Well with these who fear God”:

“I. The character here mentioned—‘them that fear God.’ The fear of God is that principle which reverences God and respects His authority. It is one of the great blessings of the new covenant, produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

1. This fear is the result of regeneration. An unrenewed man does not fear God (Ro 3:18). But regeneration turns the heart from unlawful objects to God as the chief good.

2. This fear is the result of adoption. God is regarded as a Father, worthy of reverence and love.

3. This fear is manifested by hatred to that which is hateful to God.

4. Manifested by delighting in that which is pleasing to God. The fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23). Delight in His house, in His people, in His service, etc.

5. This fear is submission to His will. Their will is revealed in His Word; it is manifested in His appointments. As to doctrines, ordinances and precepts, I do not follow my own mind. In afflictions I do not resist or repine. ‘It is the Lord; let Him do as seemeth good in His sight.’

II. The happiness here referred to—‘It shall be well with them.’

1. It is well with them already. Are they not saved from guilt and condemnation? Have they not hope? They ‘fear God,’ and from that principle arises their happiness.

2. It shall be well with them hereafter. They are under the conduct of Divine providence. God appoints the bounds of their habitations. It shall be well in adversity. Well in death. The retrospect of life will give no pain. ‘The righteous hath hope in His death.’ Well in the resurrection. The fearers of God will be raised to immortal life (Ro 8:11; Php 3:20, 21). Well in the judgment day. It shall be well with them then. It shall be well with them for ever—‘Their sun shall no more go down.’

III. The certainty here affirmed—‘Surely I know.’
1. I know from experience. I never found happiness in sin—I have found it in the fear of God.

2. I know it from observation. ‘Mark the perfect man.’ ‘Let me die the death of the righteous.’”[17]

Dr. R. S. MacArthur writes the following on, “The Christian’s welfare certified”:

“In this verse the character and condition of sinners are contrasted with those of the righteous. However long the sinner lives in sin, and however prosperous he may seem to be, yet it shall be ill with him; but however it may seem sometimes to be with the righteous man, in the long run, it shall be well with him. The text is well calculated to check the folly and presumption of the sinner, and to comfort the righteous man in the trials of life; and especially in the apparent delay of justice in permitting the triumphs of the ungodly.

I. The persons who are here described—‘them that fear God.’ This is in the Word of God a common designation of the people of God. The fear of the Lord is emphasized as the beginning of wisdom. What is meant by this fear? What kind of fear is it? It is not servile fear. It may have that characteristic in its beginning; but it will not long continue in that atmosphere. The man who is learning a new language, or to speak his own correctly, speaks for a time laboriously under the fear of violating some grammatical rule; but after a time the knowledge of the language becomes a part of his very nature, and he rises above the fear of violating the rules of grammar and comes into the love of correct speech. So, starting in the Christian life on the low plane of fear in its lower senses, we rise into the perfect love of God which casteth out all fear; we love truth, holiness and God for their own sake; we would serve God if there were no hell to be shunned and no heaven to be won; we think little of either; the love of Christ constraineth us. We fear simply lest we may offend God, our Father, Friend, and Redeemer. This fear is filial. It is the fear of a son, and not that of a slave.

II. The promise concerning the people of God: ‘It shall be well with them.’ It is not said that believers shall not have their share in the ordinary trials of life. The Bible nowhere promises us exemption from these trials. It does not assure us that we shall not go into the furnace, nor into the deep waters; but it does promise that the fire shall not consume us and the waters shall not overflow us. It is not said that Christians shall not have extraordinary trials. Christianity develops manhood; vastly enlarges the sphere of life. It gives a broader surface across which the winds of adversity may sweep. It gives greater possibilities of enjoyment; and these make greater trials certain. A Christian man is higher, deeper, and broader than other men are. He has more fully developed all his capacities both for joy and sorrow. The more our natures are developed, the greater, also, will be our responsibilities. Loyalty to God put Joseph into prison; made Elijah face cruel Ahab and wicked Jezebel; drove Daniel into a den of lions; hurled the three faithful Hebrews into the seven-times heated furnace; put Peter into the common prison, and Paul and Silas into the inner prison, with their feet fast in the stocks. But it was still well with them. This fact is the glory of our faith; this is the joy of our life in God. Joseph finds his prison the vestibule to the palace of the Pharaohs; Elijah’s fiery mission is but the prelude to the chariot of fire which carried him to glory and to God.

III. The absolute certainty here expressed. ‘Yet surely I know.’ The inspired preacher had good grounds for his knowledge. Because of God’s character men may be sure that it will be well with those who fear Him. God must be right, God must do right.”[18]

V. The fear of God is championed via a recommendation about God.
In Ecclesiastes 12:13 we read, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, / For this is man’s all.”

From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary note, “Verse 13. The grand inference of the whole book.

Fear God—The antidote to following creature idols, and ‘vanities,’ whether self-righteousness (Eccl 7:16, 18), or wicked oppression and other evils (Eccl 8:12, 13), or mad mirth (Eccl 2:2; Eccl 7:2-5), or self-mortifying avarice (Eccl 8:13, 17), or youth spent without God (Eccl 11:9; Eccl 12:1).

this is the whole duty of man—literally, ‘this is the whole man,’ the full ideal of man, as originally contemplated, realized wholly by Jesus Christ alone; and, through Him, by saints now in part, hereafter perfectly (1 John 3:22-24 Rev. 22:14).”[19]

Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) comments, “All things would be vanity and vexation, except they led to this conclusion, That to fear God, and keep his commandments, is the whole of man. The fear of God includes in it all the affections of the soul towards him, which are produced by the Holy Spirit. There may be terror where there is no love, nay, where there is hatred. But this is different from the gracious fear of God, as the feelings of an affectionate child. The fear of God, is often put for the whole of true religion in the heart, and includes its practical results in the life. Let us attend to the one thing needful, and now come to him as a merciful Saviour, who will soon come as an almighty Judge, when he will bring to light the things of darkness, and manifest the counsels of all hearts. Why does God record in his word, that ALL IS VANITY, but to keep us from deceiving ourselves to our ruin? He makes our duty to be our interest. May it be graven in all our hearts. Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is all that concerns man.”[20]

Rev. Matthew Poole comments, “The conclusion of the whole matter; the sum and substance of all that hath been said or written by wise men, so far as it is necessary for us to know.

Fear God; which is synecdoically [Synecdoche- a figure of speech in which a part is used to represent the whole or the whole for the part.]put here, as it is very frequently in Scripture, for all the inward worship of God, reverence, and love, and trust, and a devotedness of heart to serve and please God, and a loathness to offend him, and an aptness to tremble at his word and judgments.

Keep his commandments: this is fitly added as a necessary effect and certain evidence of the fear, of God. Make conscience of practising whatsoever God requires, how costly, or troublesome, or dangerous soever it be.

The whole duty; in the Hebrew it is only, the whole; it is his whole work and business, his whole perfection and happiness, it is the sum of what he need either know, or do, or enjoy.”[21]

Conclusion
The fear of God is awakened by a revelation of God.
The fear of God is expressed in a relationship with God.
The fear of God is demonstrated through a restraint under God.
The fear of God is linked with a reward from God.
The fear of God is championed via a recommendation about God.

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer reportedly said, “We don’t fear God because we don’t fear ourselves.”  Paul the apostle writes, “I know that nothing good dwells in me” (Romans 7:18).

Rev. William Secker (d. 1681?) writes in The Nonsuch Professor, “Mere head knowledge will be as unhelpful to the soul, in the judgment day — as a painted fire is unhelpful to the frozen body, in a cold day. . . .  Mere theoretical knowledge may make the head giddy — but it will never make the heart holy. . . .  He who lives in sin, without repentance — shall die in sin, without forgiveness.”[22]

Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) explains, “True fear, not fearing, but believing, saves the soul; not doubt, but confidence, is the strength and the deliverance of the Christian.  Still, fear, as being one of those powers which God hath given us, is not in itself sinful.  Fear may be used for the most sinful purposes; at the same time it may be so ennobled by grace, and so used for the service of God, that it may become the grandest part of man. . . .”[23]

Rev. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) writes, “Let us get the fear of God into our hearts. As one wedge drives out another, so the fear of God will drive out all other base fear.”[24]   

Dr. John Phillips (1927-2010) explains, “This . . . book is somewhat of an enigma to many, having indeed been called ‘the sphinx of Hebrew literature with its unsolved riddles of history and life.’ Like Job, Solomon did not have all the answers to life, and he was writing, under inspiration, from the viewpoint of a worldly man. The most valuable lesson to be learned from this book is that death is inescapable, and that its shadow falls on everything we do. The worldly man must be haunted by the specter of death, that is ‘the fly in the ointment’ (10:1) of all that he accomplishes.

Now that Christ has come and conquered death we can take a new look at Ecclesiastes, for we now have the key that unlocks the riddles of history and life. One of the chief values of Ecclesiastes is its forceful exposure of materialistic and non-Christian philosophies of life. Without Christ all roads lead to the grave, with Him all roads lead to Glory.”[25]

Rev. Thomas Watson reportedly said, “Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset; eternity to the wicked is a night that has no sunrise.”[26]

Rev. John Bunyan (1628-1688) explains, “The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and they that lack the beginning have neither middle nor end.”[27]   May we live the rest of our days in the fear of God.


[1]Thomas L. Trevethan, The Beauty of Holiness, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 213-214, 277

[2]Roy B. Zuck, “God and Man in Ecclesiastes,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 148, January-March, Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1991), 55

[3]William S. Plumer, Vital Godliness: A Treatise on Experimental and Practical Piety, “The Fear of God,” (New York: American Tract Society, 1864), 289-292.

[4]Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D.., Rev. A.R. Fausset, A.M, & Rev. David Brown, D.D., Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary: Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Edinburgh: Collins & Company, 1871), Database © 2005 WORDsearch Corp.

[5]Matthew Poole, Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, [originally published as] English Annotations on the Holy Bible (1685), Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[6]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament: Wisdom and Poetry, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2004), 502, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[7]J. Vernon McGee, “Ecclesiastes 5,” Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Database, WORDsearch Corp.

[8]The Biblical Illustrator, ed. Joseph S. Exell, Proverbs, Proverbs 28:14. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, n. d. [originally published New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1887]), Database, WORDsearch Corp.

[9]Wiersbe, Commentary.

[10]Jamison, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary.

[11]Poole, Commentary.

[12] Illustrator, Exell, Psalm 25:12.

[13]Thomas Secker, The Works of Thomas Secker, LL.D., A New Edition, vol. II, Sermon LXVI, “True Religion, The Evidence of a Good Understanding,” (Proverbs 9:10), (Edinburgh: J. Dickson and W. Laing, 1792), 289-300.

[14]George Lawson, Expositions of the Book of Proverbs, In Two Volumes, vol. II, (Edinburgh: David Brown, 1821), 329.

[15]Wiersbe, Commentary.

[16]Jamison, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary.

[17] Illustrator, Exell, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiastes 8:12.

[18]Ibid.

[19]Jamison, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary.

[20]Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, Ecclesiastes 12, (1706), Database WORDsearch Corp.

[21]Poole, Commentary.

[22]William Secker, The Nonsuch Professor, (London: Richard Baynes, [originally published 1660] 1829)

[23] Biblical Illustrator, Exell, Charles H. Spurgeon, “Five Fears,” (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13), 210-212.

[24]Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12, (1660), 275, Accessed: 01/11/14, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/watson/beatitudes.txt .

[25]John Phillips, Exploring the Scriptures: An Overview of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2001), 104.

 [26]Pulpit Helps Magazine Online, Bulletin Inserts, Accessed: http://www.pulpithelps.com/www/docs/1150-9100 .

[27]John Blanchard, The Complete Gathered Gold: A treasury of quotations for Christians, © Evangelical Press 2006. Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

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