Having the correct perspective strengthens believers to boldly stand for the truth of God.
Proverbs 29:25 – The fear of man is a snare, but the one who trusts in Yahweh is protected.
Reading this verse as a standalone instruction, it is generally considered to be speaking to the believer trusting in Yahweh rather than fearing what evils another man could do them. It could also be considered as an admonition against cowardice as “the fear of man,” that fear which a man has within himself, is also a snare and a trap.
However, the bulk of Scripture would lean toward the first and most common idea that believers should not fear what any evils a man could do to them, but they should always have a strong and vibrant trust in God.
Psalm 118:5-9 – Out of my distress I called on Yahweh; Yahweh answered me and set me free. Yahweh is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? Yahweh is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes.
Here the psalmist relates how there is no reason to fear when one takes refuge in Yahweh and calls out to him for help in their time of need. Trusting in God is to be preferred above trusting in man, even in princes, leaders, or an emperor.
1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brothers and sisters. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
While believers are commanded to show honor and respect for their leaders, it does not follow that they should blindly follow and obey them without any reference to the overarching authority and fear of God. Instead, we should take to heart the words of the apostle Peter when met with resistance by the religious authorities of his day:
Acts 5:27-29 – And when they had brought them, they set them before the council [the chief priests and leaders of Israel]. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name [the name of Yeshua], yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
Peter here was simply following the example of his Master who taught about the supremacy of God’s authority over the authority of men:
Matthew 10:21-22, 26-28 – Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. … “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.”
Yeshua encouraged his followers by ensuring they had a correct view and understanding of the true order of authority. It was this same type of mindset, fearless of the evils of men, that motivated believers to stand up for the truth throughout the history of God’s people.
Hebrews 11:35-38 – …Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated– of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
These saints of old demonstrated they did not fear what man could do to them, but their trust was placed firmly in the One who would usher them into his presence as they faithfully stood for his truth.
The principle contained in Proverbs 29:25 is succinctly summarized by the commentary of Joseph Benson:
- “The fear of man — Inordinate fear of harm or suffering from men, which is properly opposed to trust in God, because it arises from a distrust of God’s promises and providence;
- bringeth a snare — Is an occasion of many sins, and consequently of punishments from God:
- but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord — Walks in God’s ways, and securely relies upon him, to protect him from the designs and malice of wicked men;
- shall be safe — Shall be preserved from all real evil, through God’s watchful providence over him.”
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