We cannot teach what we do not possess ourselves. I have nothing to give another that I do not hold in my own hands. That is beautifully demonstrated in this Psalm. It is not until after the Psalmist has tasted and seen for himself that the Lord is good, that he can then turn and invite his children in the faith to come and be taught by what he has learned.
“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD, ” verse eleven beacons.
How can he teach the fear of the Lord? Because he has experienced it for himself. The psalmist came to this moment with his own fears (see verse 4) and he sought the Lord and gained the right perspective, God’s perspective. He was thus delivered from his own fears, literally meaning his own “haunting apprehensions” that he held deep within himself. He was freed of the torture of those haunting apprehensions because he had sought the LORD in them and gained the freeing perspective of the greatness of his God in the face of those fears in verses 4-7.
Then, several verses later, the psalmist recognizes the protection he receives when he his fears are rightly placed. He now fears the One who is far exceeding his own hauntings. This new fear is a fear that in its original wording, acknowledges God’s good intentions and is produced by the Word and Spirit of the Lord. This is a fear of astonishment and awe, as we would fear a lion, in it’s stunning beauty and magnificent strength.
Now with a grasp on that awe and goodness of God that far exceeds that which once held him by the neck in fear, the psalmist can call out to others and teach them this rightly placed fear.
As he begins to teach, he opens with the rhetorical question: “what man is there that desires life and loves many days, that he may see good?” Well, who doesn’t desire life, many days and goodness?
He then proceeds to give the practical how-to steps to live this out:
First of all, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Watch what you say. Words bring life or they bring death. Choose to speak life and hope, edifying the hearers, as Ephesians commands us.
Also, turn away from evil and do good; Choose to not do as the world might be doing, but rather do some good to those around you. Asking ‘who can I bless today and how?’ The doing of good is how we fight the doing of evil around us, according to Romans 12:21. So let’s do some people some good!
Finally, seek peace and pursue it.” Chase after peace, real peace, the Prince of Peace. Seek after the Lord and pursue Him. As we keep our mind on Him, we will be filled with peace (Isaiah 26:3). Let’s spend our energy on seeking peace rather than seeking to be proven right. Lay down our right and pick up our peace.
But how in the world can this sinner put a guard over the doorway of my mouth, remain attentive to the path I am walking, do what is good and chase after peace? The answer is in the lesson the psalmist is teaching, fear the Lord. THEN we can teach what we know, when what we know is a right fear of the Lord.
Have you tasted and seen the Lord is good? Have you allowed Him to rightly teach you Who to fear over what you fear? Do you desire life and goodness in many days? Then begin with the fear of the Lord and then turn to teach those around you its life-giving ways. In teaching you will further learn and in learning you can further teach.
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