Good Fear and Bad Fear
John D. Telgren

My oldest son has been reading the story, Tell Tale Heart in school. I remember reading the same story in school. We talked a little about the meaning behind the story. We discussed the insane paranoia that came from deep-seated inescapable guilt in the story. There is no peace in wickedness.

The Bible makes this very clear. Consider this proverb carefully:

“What the wicked fears will come upon him, But the desire of the righteous will be granted (Prov 10:24).”

This proverb paints a picture of a person consumed with guilt, fear, and paranoia. It will be their undoing. One example is King Ahaz. You can read about it in 1 Chron 28:16-20 (also 1 King 16) and especially Isaiah 7. Ahaz was a wicked king who would not trust in God. He made a treaty with Assyria (rather than trust God) because he was afraid of Aram and Israel attacking him. In the end, Assyria, his supposed helper, attacked him. Truly, “what the wicked fears will come upon him.” Consider this next proverb:

“The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion (Prov 28:1).”

I remember stealing a little toy from a store when I was little. It was an inexpensive little hot wheel. I felt pleased with myself at first that no one noticed I took it. When I got home with it, I found that it brought me little joy. I couldn’t really play with it for fear I would be caught with it. Even when my friends came over, I had to keep it in hiding. I lived in constant fear of being caught with it. I kept trying to find new and better hiding places for it. I hid it under the dresser, in the vent, between the mattresses, in a shoe. Then there was that time I nearly jumped out of my skin when I was in the process of finding a new hiding place for it. I had the hot wheel in my hand, and then I heard one of my parents walking down the hall. A ran behind my bed ready to fling the tiny toy under my bed. They never came in, they were just going to the restroom.

People do it all the time. There are those who run when then hear police sirens. There is the person who lives in fear of losing in job for fear that his lack of honesty on the job will be found out. There is the one who lives in fear that his affair will be found out. There are those who lie, and out of fear of being found out, they tell more lies which causes even more fear. And the list goes on and on. There is no lasting joy or life in wickedness, only fear.

However, there is a type of fear that is freeing. There is a fear that brings joy and life. It makes you as “bold as a lion.” This fear comes not from guilt and paranoia, but from love and respect. Consider this proverb carefully:

"In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge (Prov 14:26).”