Proverbs 28:14, Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
Whom you fear is whom you serve.
We are told in the book of Daniel about three men with the interesting names of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
The story related to us by Daniel involves these three men and it reveals to us whom they served.
They lived in the kingdom of Babylon whose king was named Nebuchadnezzar.
Daniel in chapter 2, verses 37 and 38 describes this king:
Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all.
Nebuchadnezzer was a world ruler.
He had in his hands the power of life and death.
At his command cities and nations were destroyed.
He was a man any man should fear because in his word was life and death.
Fear of Nebuchadnezzer was well placed.
It was prudent to fear him. It was wise to fear him.
It was Biblical to fear him as we are told in Prov 24:21: My son, fear thou the LORD and the king:
Kings have authority and all authority is from God.
So being godly men Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego feared Nebuchadnezzer.
But they also knew the boundaries of their fear of the king.
The boundaries of their fear of the king were not limitless.
Beyond the boundaries of their fear of the king there was one to whom they owed a higher fear and that was to Jehovah, the God of heaven.
Consider the events that revealed that higher fear in their lives.
Nebuchadnezzer, in pride of heart, built the golden image and commanded all to fall down and worship the image.
Anyone refusing to fall down was to be cast into the fiery furnace.
Knowing the power of Nebuchadnezzer and feeling the heat of the fiery furnace, anyone with sense would have obeyed, anyone that is who feared the king above all others.
But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a higher fear.
They were concerned more about offending Almighty God, the God of heaven than they were fearful of offending the most powerful man on Earth.
For they knew that the God of heaven had given the mightiest man on earth this kingdom, this power, this strength, and this glory.
They had their fear priorities in the right order.
They knew their fear boundaries.
They feared God always and they were happy about it.
They were blessed because of their fear.
They sought with their whole heart to continue the blessing of God.
So they quickly said when they were confronted with their disobedience of the kings command:
O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
That meant that they were not even going to think about it.
They were not going to consider all the options.
They were not going to compare the pros and the cons of obedience to his command.
They were not going to seek counsel from their friends.
No advice from Daniel would be sought.
They were not going to think what would be best for them to do considering their position or even their family.
They did not even think of what their actions might bring on their wives.
They were committed to an immediate answer.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
These three captives from far off Israel, chose the better part.
They chose the burning fiery furnace, in lieu of offending the God of heaven.
That is how strongly they feared the Lord.
That is how sensitive they were to the Lord's presence in their lives.
They were passing the time of their sojourning here in fear.
They feared always and were therefore not careful to answer Nebuchadnezzar in this matter.
Their lives were constantly in the fear of the Lord and this constancy brought an instant answer to his command.
Instantly they knew that disobedience to the king was imperative in order to be obedient to God.
They could conclude no other course of action.
There is no carefulness necessary to those who know the word of God and are committed to obey the word of God.
That is the fear of the Lord.
Knowing and obeying the word of God.
All other fear in conflict with this principal is misplaced fear and results in a snare.
There is a priority of fear.
And the fear of the Lord must always take first place.
That is the wise course and that is what brings happiness to the man:
The wise man's way is so filled with trust in the word of God that he has no carefulness in his answer.
As Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet was moved with fear so too were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego moved with the fear of the Lord to disobey the king.
As Jesus Christ instructed his disciples in the book of Luke:
Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.
The man that does not fear the Lord has confidence in himself.
His security is in himself.
He leans upon a reed and the reed pierces his hand.
He has no understanding of the directions in which his heart leads.
His heart is hard to the word of God.
The hardness of his heart is such to refuse entrance to the word of God into his heart.
The man who fears the Lord has a soft heart implanted by God.
The man who does not fear the Lord has a fallen heart hardened by the man.
And its hardness will not permit the word of God to do a work of Grace in it and there he is doomed to fall into mischief or affliction or adversity or calamity.
There is no other course for a heart that does not fear God.