Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 20:23
"The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil"
fear of the Lord
The Hebrew word for fear is yare, which actually means fear or being afraid. It came to mean having a reverence for God that grew out of the realization that there was a personal Supreme Being that was either pleased or not pleased with everything you did. We are not the gods of our own universe. There is a God who watches what we do and has declared that we should stay within certain boundaries and act in certain ways. The fear of the Lord is the realization that we do not want God to be displeased with our life, our choices, our words, our actions. When we live our life with the realization that God can be pleased or displeased with us, we are living in the fear of the Lord.
It is the full embrace of the facts that there is a God and you will meet Him someday. He is pleased or appalled with your behavior – that is the fear of the Lord. Living within this worldview changes the way that you approach life.
This is the Hebrew word haya, which means live, have life, live prosperously, live forever. It is not clear from this reference whether Solomon is saying that the fear of the Lord will allow a person to live forever or whether the fear of the Lord leads to a quality and prosperity of life. It may also be that he means to convey both truths.
When you are depressed and tempted to strike out in new ways to break free from the sameness or dullness of your present moment, you must remember the universe you live in. It is the one where there is a God who judges your actions and immoral shortcuts that do not lead to life; they lead to separation from all the relationships that you care about and eventually to death itself. Do not give into those impulses to move and take immoral shortcuts to a new life. They don't go where you think they go.
This is the Hebrew word lin, which means lodge or spend the night. Solomon here is pointing out that when one doesn't have a lot of lies, deceptions, wounded enemies, or stolen goods in one’s life, then sleep is peaceful and secure. But when one has a lot of shady deals and hidden wrongs, then it is harder to sleep, wondering whether they will be discovered or found out.
This is a truism in a sense. Don't do anything wrong and you will not have anything to worry about. Living life God's way knowing that you have the approval of the ultimate authority allows you to rest easy at night.
This is the Hebrew word sabea, which means satisfied. In this case it means you get enough sleep. The regeneration that takes place in sleep is complete and full. You are refreshed. Your sleep is not fitful and interrupted with all your worries.
When we live with a single focus of pleasing God, then the choices in life become clear; but when we try and please two or more masters, then we get in trouble. Make pleasing the Lord the focus in your life and it will bring connectedness to all the other righteous relationships in life – and restful sleep. Instead of stepping on people to get ahead, seek to love them. Meet their needs. Look for ways to cause them to win. This is what Jesus said when He said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you."
This is two Hebrew words bal, which means not and paqadwhich means visit, number, consider. So the combined idea is that the person is unvisited or untouched as the translators state.
This verse conveys a truth that we often overlook. Evil visits people for a reason. We want to believe that there is a randomness to evil. We don't know why that happened to you. But that is not true for the vast majority of cases. We live in a cause-and-effect universe. Evil comes for a reason. If you want to reduce its visits to your life, then live in the fear of the Lord.
This is the Hebrew word ra. It means the opposite of what is good and brings the opposite of life. It brings separation and destruction. It is those actions which cause destruction and separation and loss. When we become selfish in our actions and grasping for what we personally want irregardless of what it does to another – even if it means that the other person loses – then we bring separation and destruction and loss to their life: evil. When we do not strive for the wise choice – the triple-win choice – then we take the fool’s choice: the one that is best for us but nobody else. We are increasing a level of evil. It will come and find us.