298 – Psalm 14 – Fear YHWH

Psalm 14:2-4 (NKJV)

           2       [YHWH] looks down from heaven upon the children of men,

    To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.

           3       They have all turned aside,

    They have together become corrupt;

    There is none who does good,

    No, not one.

           4       Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge,

    Who eat up my people as they eat bread,

    And do not call on [YHWH]?


One of the biggest traps (there are several) modern-day readers of the Bible fall into is failing to recognize the author was writing to an original audience. If we don’t consider the ancient audience we ignore an important aspect of context. If we fail to keep the passage we are studying in context we run the risk of misinterpreting what we read. If we misinterpret the Bible, then we will certainly misapply it, and fail to communicate its truths accurately to others. That most certainly is not how YHWH (Yahweh) God intended His word to be handled.

In the interest then of context, we need to recognize David wrote this Psalm to Israel about Israel, as clearly stated in the seventh verse. The “my people” reference in verse four then is clearly Israel. The “fool” who “eats up” YHWH’s people in verse four are the enemies of Israel. Now that we have clearly seen this chapter of the Bible is about Israel should we just dismiss the Psalm as a historical reference and continue on to something relevant to us today? Of course not! Relevance to us is not threatened by keeping the Bible in its historical context. Considering historical context makes the Bible all the more amazing in its ability to stay relevant to every generation down through the ages.

Recognizing that Psalm fourteen in general, but more specific to our purposes today, verses two through four are a record of historical events, what can the modern-day reader glean from it? Do you think YHWH “looked down from heaven upon the children of men..” only the one time King David wrote about? Not likely. I’m sure He is continually doing so. Just think about it. If God were looking down upon the earth right now what do you think He would see? Do we need to go into detail? We know what He would see. Wouldn’t He see gross wickedness running almost totally unchecked throughout the world? Why? Some would wrongly suggest it is because God is in our time silent. He does not speak from heaven. Mountains are not on fire and quaking with the presence of YHWH, He is silent. No, that’s not it. Then why?

I submit it is because mankind as a whole has foolishly decided not to fear YHWH – “they have said in their heart there is no God”! Look at Psalm 19:9.


Psalm 19:9 (NKJV)

           9       The fear of [YHWH] is clean, enduring forever;

    The judgments of [YHWH] are true and righteous altogether.


Did you notice how long “the fear of [YHWH]” endures? Is it just that right before we become believers we begin to see God for who He is and we are instantly in fear, but then we come to faith and we are no longer afraid? Certainly not. The fear of YHWH “endures forever”!

Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)

           7       The fear of [YHWH] is the beginning of knowledge,

    But fools despise wisdom and instruction.


Psalm 111:10 (NKJV)

           10       The fear of [YHWH] is the beginning of wisdom;

    A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.

    His praise endures forever.


Look at the above verse. Fear of YHWH causes the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. How many sermons have you heard on the “fear of YHWH”? Probably not too many, right? There may be many reasons why that’s the case, but I suspect one of them is it makes the modern Christian uncomfortable. Are you uncomfortable considering the topic of the “fear of YHWH”? Is your immediate response something like, “well I don’t fear God, so what does that mean”? Maybe this whole time you’ve been replacing the word fear with the word respect or reverence in your mind. If you have you’d be in good company because it seems like that’s the most popular way to define the word. But don’t do it! It’s wrong. The word “reverence” certainly is among the glosses, but look at the context in the verses in which it appears. The word “terror” is also among the glosses. 

Consider Psalm 34:11.


Psalm 34:11 (NKJV)

           11       Come, you children, listen to me;

    I will teach you the fear of [YHWH].


I find it fascinating that if I want to search my Bible software I put in “fear of the LORD”. But in every reference that is returned, “LORD” is always the personal name of God YWYH – it is never the word lord (or master). When one knows the one who is called YHWH the natural response is a very healthy fear! When the wicked know who YHWH is they fear Him! When the righteous know who YHWH is they fear Him! It is the fool who does not fear YHWH and he will suffer eternal consequences for that lack of fear.

When YHWH looks from heaven and His eyes fall upon me what will He see?

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