/ Jared Olivetti

Fighting Fear - Proverbs 3:21-26

(This is the third installment in a short series. Click here for the first and second post.)

(21) My son, do not lose sight of these--
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
(22) and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
(23) Then you will walk on your way securly,
and your foot will not stumble.
(24) If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
(25) Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
(26) for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.

In the first post, we explored how knowing and obeying God fights fear well. In the second post, we saw from 1 John the way that God's perfect love drives out fear. Here in Proverbs 3, we come to see the relationship between wisdom and fear.

This passage begins like many in Proverbs, celebrating wisdom and encouraging us to pursue her. Specifically, we are called to look for wisdom and when we find it to keep it at all costs. Verse 22 gives us the reason for such passion in the pursuit of wisdom: wisdom's vertical and horizontal benefits. In other words, wisdom benefits our relationship to God and our relationship to our neighbors.

Wisdom Brings Security

For those who are serious in their pursuit of wisdom, they can expect to see the blessings laid out in verses 23 and 24. Seeking and living heavenly wisdom brings the following blessings:

  • Certainty in purpose
  • Confidence in being within God's will
  • Freedom from the pain that so much sin and foolishness cost

If discernment is knowing how to discern what is right and best, then wisdom is knowing how to do what is right and best. Though the pursuit of wisdom is often humbling (James 1:5-6), it is always worth it. Wisdom's worthiness lies both in the glory it brings to God and the blessings it brings to us.

Wisdom brings benefits that  even extend to how well we sleep. Those who are experienced in knowing and doing God's will sleep better than anyone else. This is likely both metaphorical and literal. Few things rob our sleep faster than the constant nagging of fear and doubt. But conversely and joyfully, nothing eases our fearful minds more than knowing we are right with God.

Wisdom Calls Us From Fear To Faith

There's a certain comfort in knowing Solomon's world was just as filled with fear as ours. Any examination of the movies we watch will reveal a deep-seated fear of terror and disaster among us. We are so deeply and often afraid it has come to own its own movie genre! But Christinas are called away from the fear of sudden things (natural disaster, terror attacks, etc.) and from the ruin of the wicked.

But why do we need to be warned not to be afraid of the wicked's ruin? First, because it's genuinely terrifying to consider what happens to the wicked (see Rev. 14:14-20). Second, because some Christians lack assurance of salvation and still fear we may suffer the fate of the wicked. Thirdly, because we realize that the wicked's fate will often mean suffering for us along the way--but in that, we reveal that we lack a heavenly perspective on our future.

Instead of giving into fear, we are to receive the comfort of confidence. Specifically, wisdom will remind us regularly that the Lord is and will be our confidence. Your confidence is that thing you reach out to when you're falling, your first instinct in times of trouble. Wisdom will teach us to grab onto God when we fall into fear. And then we will become confident Christians. Not pridefully and sinfully self-confident, but joyfully and righteously God-confident.

Some Ideas For Application

If the pursuit and practice of wisdom defeats fear, consider how we might live this out on a daily basis:

  • We would value personal holiness and hate sin more than we do, especially knowing that sin robs us of our confidence.
  • We would pray regularly for wisdom, a prayer which God has guaranteed to answer.
  • We would often seek wisdom from other Christians. By listening to wise counsel, we will cultivate confidence in the God who has proven Himself in so many ways to so many people.
  • We would despise our own foolishness and spiritual immaturity.
  • We would spend more time with God, knowing that He is the light which shines in our dark and terrifying nights.

Fear can only live where foolishness gives it cover. Seek wisdom and fear will retreat.

Jared Olivetti

Jared Olivetti

I'm a pastor at Immanuel RPC in West Lafayette, Indiana. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife, six kids and a loving church family.

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