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Happy Fear

Editor’s note: In a day when we are fearing many things on earth, which often brings us stress and anxiety, Dr. David Murray reminds us here of a fear that’s good, and that brings us happiness and joy.

“The fear of the Lord is an over-flowing ever-flowing spring of comfort and joy; it is a fountain of life, yielding constant pleasure and satisfaction to the soul, joys that are pure and fresh, are life to the soul, and quench its thirst.”

Matthew HenryI cannot understand those who pay to watch movies that scare the wits out of them. When I was young, I had a friend who went to see every horror movie possible. I went with him once, after months of persuasion, and closed my eyes throughout. Unfortunately I couldn’t close my ears, and I can still hear the screams to this day!For most of us, fear is an emotion we want to avoid, and that we will even pay to avoid. It’s a negative, painful, distressing feeling.And yet, the wisest man in the world, Solomon, said: “Happy is the man who fears always” (Proverbs 28:14). What kind of fear is this that makes a person happy?

1. It is a fear of God, an awe-inspiring sense of the greatness, majesty and holiness of God.

2. It is a fear of sin, as something that offends this awesome God.

3. It is a fear of self, recognizing the evil within us and its danger to us and others.

The old Scottish pastor, Thomas Boston, highlighted the word “always” in this text and said:

“This fear must be our habitual and constant work. [It] should season all we do, and be with us in all times, cases, conditions, places, and companies.”

But Boston also emphasized the happiness of this fear:

1. Because it prevents much sin and advances holiness of heart.

2. Because it prevents strokes of chastisement from our heavenly Father’s rod.

3. Because it empties a man of self confidence, carries the soul to Christ, and makes way for the influences of grace.

That’s a fear worth paying for, and yet that comes without a price tag.

“Happy is the man that fears always.” (Proverbs 28:14)

This article first appeared on, on April 7, 2015


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