In order to finish our study of the fear of man in Proverbs promptly, I’m mostly just going to list references for you to look at by clicking my links and using your eyeballs. I will comment on some verses that do not appear to belong. Most of what I wanted to say philosophically and doctrinally has already been said in my previous three posts though.
These references apply to caring for the poor, as discussed in Part III of this series:
I also mentioned in my last post that the fear of man, as seen in pursuit of respect or reputation or security over God. Proverbs actually speaks to reputation being a good thing: stated in Proverbs 22:1; it is assumed in Proverbs 24:24 and Proverbs 31:23, 30. I cite this to remind you to observe and learn from the whole counsel of God, and to exhort you not to ignore the opinions of other people put in their correct place.
The following verses regard avoiding bad company and situations that may cause you to sin; things usually fallen into by pursuing men’s regard:
These verses talk about favoritism, flattery, pleasing people with your words, and lying to gain favor. The importance of honest rebuke is also included:
The following have to do with trusting the Lord, because He is more powerful than man, will overcome evil, will take vengeance in the final day, etc. Thus these have to do with our motivation in not fearing man:
This leaves me with the following four oddball verses regarding the fear of man in Proverbs.
Proverbs 20:6 vaguely has to do with the ill effects caused by so many people acting out of trying to manipulate other people and their opinion. I consider it tangentially related to our discussion and have therefore included it for you to consider.
Proverbs 20:19 is about gossip, which often enough is a form of people pleasing.
Proverbs 25:21-22 is similar to the commands to care for the poor:
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For you will heap burning coals on his head,
And the Lord will reward you.
Such behavior is not motivated by the fear of man, but as is clear from the context, by a love and fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 27:21 might be the most convicting and helpful for me:
The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold,
And each is tested by the praise accorded him.
Or in other words, praise shows us our true motives. If I handle being praised by others for my Godliness or my gifts or my actions poorly, I reveal that all along my motives were wrong. Perhaps I live far more in the fear of man than I ever imagined. Perhaps my spiritual pride is far more rampant that I thought. As trials and sufferings test the character of our faith, so does man’s praise reveal the true object of our worship and affection. That is a sobering thought.
Are we there yet? Well sort of. We’ve finished the Proverbial word study now. So we’ll pull over at this rest stop. Get a Coca-Cola™ from the vending machine; we’ll get back on the road and plunge into the Gospels soon. Jesus Himself has much to teach us about the fear of man and the fear of God. Hopefully we’ve learned a lot already, but be prepared to learn much more.