In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
The strongest men and women on earth are those who fear the LORD, and they are also the safest men and women on earth. They obey and worship the LORD Jehovah, and they know He is always with them. They can and will do exploits, for they fear no duty, no man, or even death. They are in constant peace, for they trust in His everlasting strength.
Weak men, who neither face nor fulfill their duties, who are intimidated by challenges, who cannot rule their own spirits, and who are waylaid by minor obstacles, show that their trust is in themselves. They cannot even manage their families, for the patient application of godly leadership in this simple role is too much for their fearful souls.
King Saul of Israel, though over seven feet tall and very gifted physically (I Sam 9:1-2), was afraid of public recognition, so he hid among the stuff (I Sam 10:17-26). When Goliath challenged Israel, he hid in his tent and bribed others (I Sam 17:1-11,25-30), and when Israel sang David’s praises, he tried to kill him out of fearful envy (I Sam 18:6-11).
On the other hand, David, though a young shepherd lad, did not even consider fearing Goliath (I Sam 17:23-30). Rejecting armor, he ran to meet the giant with fearless courage (I Sam 17:38-48). Later, when given two opportunities to kill his adversary and take the throne, he left his future in God’s hands and spared his life. Though troubled on every side more than most men, he wrote of peace and security in the LORD like no other.
This proverb has a pronoun in the second clause. Some see the pronoun “his” standing for a man who fears the LORD, implied from the first clause. But you should understand it to mean the LORD Himself. His children, God’s children, who trust in Him, have a place of refuge. The lesson is not for the children of the righteous, but for the righteous himself. Take the most direct and simplest interpretation, for there is no guarantee the children of the righteous will fear the LORD. Consider David and his children for this interpretation.
Fear and confidence are usually considered opposites. But the fear of the LORD, which is to love and obey God, is the source of confidence to face the uncertainties of life in this world. Those who know their God will be strong and do exploits (Dan 11:32), and they will be kept in perfect peace (Is 26:3-4). Reader, take hold of this. It is for your life.
What fear can shake the man who leans on Jesus for repose (Pr 3:25-26)? With the angel of the LORD standing nearby, he will always be delivered (Ps 34:7-11). With his confidence in the LORD, his heart is fixed and established (Ps 112:6-8). The fear of man brings intimidation and worry, but the fear of God makes men bold (Heb 13:5-6).
The three Hebrew men in Babylon feared the LORD, but not the angry Nebuchadnezzar or his fiery furnace (Dan 3:16-18). They boldly answered that they would not worship his golden image no matter what he did to them. And their friend Daniel continued to pray three times daily though laws had been passed making it a capital crime (Dan 6:6-10).
But who was more courageous than the apostle Paul? He faced the hatred of Jews and Gentiles without fear. When God warned him of danger in Jerusalem, he said, “None of these things move me” (Acts 20:20-22). And only space limits these notes from that innumerable company of martyrs, who followed Paul with strong confidence in God.
Dear reader, you can have the pure conscience that makes men courageous (Pr 28:1), and you can have the strong confidence that only a righteous few ever obtain. And in the time of trouble, you can escape to His pavilion, where He will protect you in His secret place (Ps 27:5; 91:1). Let Psalms 18, 27, and 46 strengthen your confidence in God today.
Paul was brave, but he could not match the Lord Jesus Christ, who endured the physical, spiritual, and other horrors of the cross willingly, for the sins of His enemies. And where did Jesus Christ find His strong confidence? In the fear of the LORD (Heb 5:7-9)! And He now sits as King in the safest place of refuge in the universe – at God’s right hand.