The Cockroach in the Room
1 Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
7 He is not afraid of bad news;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
A Fearing Man
Often we hear the words “fear of God” and “fear of man” and our minds are triggered as though by some pavlovian response to indulge in religious jargon and lose the very nature of the “fear of God.”(v.1) Have you ever been afraid of insects, or known someone who is afraid of insects. I remember walking into a room with someone who was afraid of cockroaches. As we turned the light on, their only and chief concern in the room was the cockroach. My friend could not fuction, think or do anything else than think about the cockroach. This is a much more helpful illustration with regards to the fear of God than any religious jargon or vocabulary can offer.
Such is the story of this “Blessed Man” who fears the Lord.
A Fearless Man
The Psalm goes on to enumerate all the other things that may be in the “room” of his life, but do not fill his attention span. We see family (v.2), wealth, success and money (v.3), personal morality and business ethics (v.5), or piety (v.9). Most of the furniture in this “Blessed Man’s” room is good. We should think focusing on this would not be a bad thing. Surely a little bit of fear with regards to how one’s family runs, how successful one is, or how one conducts business and life in an all-around moral way is not a bad focus fear.
What is it that makes this “Blessed Man” afraid of God but not afraid of failure or bad news?
The fearless man fears God. In other words he worships God, not success. He worships God, not family. He worships God, not success. The Psalmist tells us that this blessed person is utterly fearless with regard to bad news, because he does not worship success.
So what is the source of his fearlessness?
A Feared God
God is the only object of worship who when you fail him he will forgive you. All other objects of worship can become hard task masters. The reason why the Psalmist is fearless is that he knows his great debt has been paid. You can almost hear this Psalm echoing these words “with you there is forgiveness [therefore] you are feared.”(Psalm 130:4) V8.
God is feared, not because of his power, but because of his mercy. That is the awe inspiring truth. Jesus had no reason to go to Golgotha and suffers the scars of the scourge, except to bring about our forgiveness. Once the Psalmist experiences forgiveness, his only response is awe.