The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom

Posted: Friday, August 08, 2008

My friend Caleb is, what you might call, a "home-spun philosopher." He has some ready wit or wisdom for, seemingly, every occasion and situation. "Now," as he is prone to say, "take fears, for instance." (Just where you want to take them surely beats me, but take them anyway.) "Why I know some folks who have such a stack of fears that they pretty nearly aren't (actually Caleb used the word "ain't") able to accomplish anything in a life, much less a day."

He then proceeded to explain to me that educated folks use the word "phobia" instead of "fear." Caleb gave me a short list of these "phobias", such as:

* Hydrophobia -- a fear of taking baths.

* Claustrophobia-- a fear of being stuck in closets.

* Acrophobia -- a fear of being on a trapeze, where acrobats often are.

* Homophobia -- a fear of homogenized milk.

* Necrophobia --a fear of being hung by the neck.

* Xenophobia -- a fear of Zenons (those aliens from some planet that are out to make Superman lose his super powers)

Caleb actually added a couple more pretty good words -- I thought.

* Xylophobia -- a fear of playing the xylophone.

* Zerophobia -- a fear of flunking a test in class.

Whether Caleb has all this entirely straight, I will leave to you. However, I would like to recommend that we consider some wise words about the matter of the genuine fears that frequently intrude into our lives.

As a parent have you ever been fearful concerning your children's safety?

As a business person, do you ever fear financial ruin?

Many years ago we lived in Virginia. Highway 60, at the bottom of an 1,800-foot drop in elevation from the Skyline Drive to Buena Vista, ran in front of our home.

Our front steps were about 30 feet from the edge of the highway, with no fence between. Some of our children were still toddlers. Every so often, we would hear the blaring of the air horn of a tractor-trailer as it careened down the mountain with its brakes overheated.

Had our children wandered into the street? Were they safe?

How reassuring it was to be able to commit their safety to God each morning when we had our time of family prayer and devotion. We could look to God to protect them when, despite our best endeavors, they might be going across the street to our kind neighbor's store for a bit of candy he so willingly gave to them.

Again we read the words of King Davis: "Great peace have they which love thy law -- and nothing shall offend them. (Psalm 119:165)

Finally, some people have a fear of bad news. But Psalm 112:7 reads, "He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord."

In the book of Proverbs we read these encouraging words: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 1:7)

Charles G. Thornton is the pastor-at-large of Peninsula Grace Brethren Church at 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Soldotna. Sunday worship is held at 11 a.m., Bible classes are held at 9:30 a.m. For more inforamtion visit

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