What if I told you that both your deepest desire and your greatest fear will both come upon you?
That’s what Proverbs 10:24 seems to be saying:
What the wicked dreads will come upon him,
but the desire of the righteous will be granted.
There are many objects and situations we could supply for “dread”. Is it death? Loneliness? Broken relationships? Financial ruin? A zombie attack? But ultimately we know that what is really dreaded is the judgment of God. In his commentary on Proverbs, John Kitchen says it well:
The first, and most fundamental, consequence of sin to human emotions was the introduction of fear (Gen. 3:10). While such fear is often redirected and remains unidentified, it nevertheless lingers (Heb. 2:15). There is, in every human, ‘a certain terrifying expectation of judgment’ (Heb. 10:27). This, Solomon assures us, will eventually befall the wicked. True, the wicked often prosper for a time (Ps. 73:3ff). This may cause the righteous to nearly stumble (Ps. 73:1–2), but ‘Then I perceived their end. How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors!’ (Ps. 73:17b–19).
What this Proverb is telling us is that even though “doing wrong is like a joke to a fool” (10:23) what is really underneath is a life built upon avoidance. There is a great dread which is the governing structure of the life of the wicked. And no matter how creative we are, nor how successful we are in crafting fig leaves and bushes to hide us, ultimately that which we dread—the gaze of God—will come upon us in full force.
But the other side of this is true as well. The desire of the righteous—God Himself—will be granted. If you live your life trying to avoid the judgment of God, you’ll be judged. If you live your life pursuing the pleasure of God, you’ll receive it. This is amazing news. These words of Charles Bridges serve as great worship fuel:
But if the fear of the wicked—so also will the desire of the righteous—be fully realized. As the one cannot fear anything so bad, so the other cannot desire anything so good, as what is really in store for them. Desires bounded by the will and centered in the enjoyment, of God, will be granted to their utmost extent. God did not raise them to be our torment, but our rest.”
Did you catch that? You cannot dream something bigger than what God has in store for you. Your Father delights to give you this kingdom (Luke 12:32).
Dread really isn’t a word that should be in the Christian vocabulary. Don’t hear that as a rebuke for those of us who have seasons of anguish, or who have time when dread feels more powerful than hope. That statement isn’t meant as a rebuke, it’s meant to say it is wonderfully good news that even though we might battle the dread of night that isn’t our lot.
In Christ your desire will be fulfilled, your greatest fear will not. That which is the greatest fear —and from which all other dread flows, the wrath of God—has been fully swallowed up by our Savior. You will not taste one ounce of what our guilt deserves. Therefore, we can live in delight and desire instead of days of dread.
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.