Those Who Fear God!
William Nicholson, 1862
"I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him!" Ecclesiastes 8:12
The Scriptures everywhere preserve that great and important distinction of character, which divides the whole of mankind in all ages, and which alone shall exist at the last day — the righteous and the wicked. This too is mentioned in such a manner, as if no account was to be made of any other distinction.
In the concerns of the present life, men are distinguished by nation, by birth, by rank and title; but God distinguishes them only by character, for he is no respecter of people.
Great importance is attached to the "end" of things — and we are always taught, that only is well, which ends well. Wickedness, however it may delight the sinner, will have an awful result. Piety, however it may be neglected and despised, will have a glorious termination. "Surely I know that it will be well with those who fear God!" This is powerfully described by Solomon in the context.
I. The Character Here Mentioned:"Those who 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. Jeremiah 32:39, 40; Malachi 4:2. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances!" Ezekiel 36:27
He who fears God, reverences him in the manifestation of . . .
his majesty and glory,
his justice and holiness,
his infinite goodness.
1. Such a fear is the result of regeneration. An unrenewed man does not fear God. "There is no fear of God before their eyes!" Romans 3:18. But regeneration turns the heart from unlawful objects — to God as the chief good. Galatians 6:15, 16.
2. Such a fear is the result of adoption. God is regarded as a Father, worthy of reverence and love. Before, his fear was the dread of a slave; now it is a filial fear, working by love. Romans 8:14, 15. That love has . . .
and will glorify him!
3. Such a fear is manifested by hatred to that which is hateful to God. Sin in all its ramifications. Intemperance — falsehood — injustice — evil association — all the works of the flesh. "Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!" Galatians 5:16-21.
4. Such a fear is manifested also by delighting in that which is pleasing to God.
The fruits of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control!" Galatians 5:22, 23. Delight . . .
in God himself,
in his word,
in his worship,
in his people,
in his service, etc.
5. Such a fear is the submission to his will in every state. God's will is revealed in his word — it is manifested in his providential appointments. As to doctrines, commands, 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 seems good in his sight!"
II. Their Happiness:"It shall be well with them."
1. All is well with them already. Are they not saved from guilt and condemnation? Are they not renewed — and adopted? Have they not a sure hope of eternal glory? It is well with them. They "fear God," and from that principle, arises their happiness.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!"
"Blessed is the man who finds wisdom (who fears the Lord), the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed!" Proverbs 3:13-18
The fear of the Lord is of heavenly origin; it comes down from the Father of lights, and prepares us for the enjoyment of him. The fear of the Lord promotes our true interest, and confers upon us the highest honors, Nehemiah 7:2.
The fear of the Lord produces a good conscience — preserving us from crimes which would distress us. 2 Corinthians 1:12; Hebrews 10:22.
The fear of the Lord inspires with courage and fortitude. Nehemiah 6:11. All less fears are swallowed by this great fear — the fear of God.
The fear of the Lord prevents compliance with sinful temptations, and criminal indulgences. It stands as a sentinel over the soul and warns it of approaching dangers, and suppresses the first risings of corruption, before they issue in actual sins.
The fear of the Lord leads to associations and services which yield unspeakable delight. "I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the house of the Lord!" "I am a companion of all who fear you." "Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.
The fear of the Lord leads to communion with God.
"Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him." Malachi 3:16-17
2. It shall be well with them.
They are under the oversight of Divine Providence. God appoints the bounds of their habitations.
(1.) It shall be well with them in adversity. "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" Isaiah 43:1-3
(2.) It shall be well with them in the furnace of affliction. In their trials the wicked have no refuge; but the believer recognizes God in them. "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them!" Romans 8:28. "I have refined you in the furnace of affliction!" Isaiah 48:10
(3.) It shall be well with them in death. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." Revelation 14:13
The retrospect of life will give no pain. "The righteous has hope in his death."
(4.) It shall be well with them in the resurrection. The fearers of God will be raised to immortal life. "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body!" Philippians 3:20-21. "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you!" Romans 8:11
(5.) It shall be well with them in the judgment day. "Then the King will say to those on his right: Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world!" Matthew 25:34
3. It shall be well with them forever. "Their sun shall no more go down." "And they will reign forever and ever!" Revelation 22:5
III. The Certainty of Their Happiness."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. I have watched the righteous and the wicked — I have seen them die. "The wicked is driven away in his wickedness — but the righteous has hope in his death!" Proverbs 14:32. "Mark the blameless man, and observe the upright — or the future of that man is peace!" Psalm 37:37. "Let me die the death of the righteous!"
3. I know it from reason. Holiness is bliss. Bliss here, and hereafter.
4. I know it from God's promises. The mouth of the Lord has spoken it. How abundant are they!
"I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him!"