for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men. Lamentations 3:33
The Hebrew of Lamentations 3:33 has it, ‘from the heart’. God takes no delight to afflict his children; it goes against the grain of his heart. It grieves him to be grievous to them; it pains him to punish them, and it is like death to him to strike them. He has no inclination or disposition to the work of afflicting his people, and he calls it his ‘strange work’ (Isa. 28:21). Mercy and punishment flow from him as the honey and sting of a bee. The bee yields honey from her own nature, but stings only when provoked. God delights in mercy (Mic. 7:18), and takes no pleasure in giving his people up to adversity (Hos. 11:8). Mercy and kindness flow from him freely and naturally. He is never severe or harsh. He never stings or terrifies, but when he is sadly provoked. God’s hand may lie very hard upon his people when his heart is yearning towards them (Jer. 31:18-20). No man can tell how the heart of God stands by his actions. His hand of severity may lie hard upon those whom he has set his heart as you see in Job and Lazarus. Thus, be still; leave your muttering, murmuring, complaining, chafing and vexing, and lay your hand upon your mouth. Be silent under the afflicting hand of God. Conscience allays and stills all the tumults and uproars that are in the soul. Consider the gracious, blessed, soul-quieting conclusions that come out of afflictions. As Christ commanded the boisterous winds and the roaring raging seas – ‘He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm’ (Matt. 8:26) – so let the conscience speak to the soul: Be quiet and still; ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage: wait for the Lord’ (Psa. 27:14), and ‘Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him’ (Psa. 37:7).
In 1961, A.W. Tozer wrote in The Knowledge of the Holy that the way some Christians think about God is sinful. Dr. Arnold Frank, in The Fear of God: A Forgotten Doctrine confirms that the 21st century church, in the pew as well as the pulpit, continues to regard God as impotent and irrelevant in other words, without godly fear. As such, Dr. Frank, with a theologian’s skill and a pastor’s heart, walks us through the Scriptures, letting the Word of God speak about the fear of God.
In addition to clear, biblical exposition, Dr. Frank also weaves in the wise and timeless counsel of the Puritans to help us see how the fear of God is a most needed and practical doctrine.
Do you approach God with a godly fear? The Fear of God: A Forgotten Doctrine will be a skillful and gracious reminder of how we should regard the holy, sovereign Creator.
“The biblical concept of the fear of God is too often marginalized or ignored by the Christian church and its preachers today. The result is shallow views of sin, easy belief, and antinomianism. With the aid of Puritan preachers, Arnold Frank sounds a clarion call for a biblical and sure approach to the fear of God.” Joel Beeke (President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary)