He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises Him
There is something motivating righteousness. People don’t stay within the guidelines of God’s morality without a reason. That reason is a mixture of positive and negative reasons called the fear of the Lord. It is a shame that we no longer teach the fear of the Lord in our churches or our culture. And as a result, no one has the proper incentive to stay within the boundaries of morality and decency.
What is this cryptic motivator called the fear of the Lord?
It is positive in that it is reverence and awe and delight in the Lord. It is the realization that God exists, is great, and is worth seeking. Hebrews 11:3. There are positive benefits to maintaining one’s self in righteousness. God will reward those who trust Him and, by faith, carry out His directives.
The fear of the Lord is also negative in that everyone will face consequences for their actions and judgment day in the future. God has so structured the universe that there are consequences for all actions. The consequences for morally wicked actions build up and destroy the joy of life. The wrath of God is right now being revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. Romans 1:18. Our society has become willingly blind to the consequences of cursing, lying, stealing, adultery, and murder. They have wanted to pursue a course of action that will take them past the morality of the Bible, so they have stopped detailing what happens when people live this way.
The fear of the Lord also means that there will be Judgment Day at the end of life. All that we have ever done, said, or thought will be replayed for evaluation. Romans 2:5,6; Proverbs 24:12; Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10. Believers and non-believers will face this type of judgment. Those who have not accepted their need for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will face a judgment in which God will be looking for mistakes, wrongs, and selfishness. Those who have embraced Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord will be looking for that which He can reward, that which is done trusting Him and at His direction. All that we have ever done will be on display before the righteous judge of the earth.
This should persuade us to not do some things that we could do. It should cause us to not think certain things but instead embrace wholesome thoughts. It should keep us from saying some things we would like to say but know that we shouldn’t.
Only when one has a healthy and constant understanding of the fear of the Lord – both positive and negative – will one have the proper motivation for being righteous.
One must regularly remind oneself that everything we ever think, say, and do will be on God’s video tape and will be played back at Judgment Day. It is your choice whether the events recorded on the video tape record actions of faith and righteousness or events that Jesus had to die for on the cross.
Realize that there is a reward for living a life of righteousness. It is a life of deep and enjoyable relationships. God does bless those who follow Him. Enjoy His blessings without guilt and do not chase the “blessings” of the wicked.
but he who is devious in his ways despises Him
The word devious is the word deviation or crooked or turn away. It really means so much more than a person who is just devious although that type of person could be included in this person. This, instead, describes one who turns away from morality; one who lives outside of the boundaries and morays of the Bible and, in many cases, outside of societies. This is a person who basically says: no one tells me what I can’t do.
This type of person is described as a person who despises God who is the ultimate authority in morality. This proverb does not say anything about what happens to this person; it is just a statement about their motivation. They despise God. In our growing pagan culture it is easier to see this type of person’s contempt for the God of the Bible. They actually believe that belief in God and biblical morality has harmed society. This proverb tries to get the wise person to understand that this is the way the unrighteous person thinks. Realize this and understand it. Appealing to God and the Bible will not work with this person. Unless they have a radical conversion, they will not submit to God and His rules.
This proverb does not state how the wise person should use this insight into the motivations of the wicked. But there are a number of obvious applications.
Do not expect them to accept appeals to God’s revealed morality.
Expect them to ignore the consequences of sin.
Their only motivation for change is self-interest.
There are people who do not want any authority to be over them.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.