25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.
The fear of man mentioned here is not about the proper and necessary respect and submission that we should show towards human authorities, such as kings, governments, officers, teachers, parents, etc. Honouring those in authority is taught in the Bible. However, if they require us to act against our Biblical faith and principles, “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
The fear of man appears in various forms, namely, caring too much about what people think of us, fearing the loss of favour and friendship of men, fearing forfeiture of rights and privileges, fearing loss of honour and applause from people, fearing reproaches, reviling and persecution from people, as well as fearing afflictions and death that people could inflict.
God’s Word warns us that such fear of man can ensnare God’s people. It can lead men into great sins at times, holding them like a bird caught in a snare. It often compels many to give up their faith in the Lord, or to disobey God, or to participate in wicked deeds, violating their own conscience. Aaron, though a priest unto the LORD, yielded to the outcry of the people and made them a golden calf. Peter denied his Master for fear of a maid. Oh, how tragic it is to be ensnared by the fear of man!
The fear of man can also cause men to conduct themselves without dignity. Abraham, because of his fear of the Egyptian king, denied that Sarah was his wife; David (who ran from Saul), being “sore afraid of Achish the king of Gath”, behaved like a mad man before the latter. Some have failed to carry out their duties and given up their honour for fear of man. The fear of man also restrains men from being useful in God’s kingdom. Many dare not speak a word for Christ for fear of others. Some refuse to take responsibility or leadership in the church for fear of man and thereby waste their abilities and opportunities to become useful and fruitful in the Lord’s work. It reduces many to cowardly, shameful and foolish actions.
The most effective Scriptural antidote to the fear of man is to trust the LORD. The LORD is our safe refuge from the threats and intimidations of men. The LORD God is mightier than the whole world combined. Like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, let us find courage through prayer to face a frowning, mocking, ridiculing or even raging mob.