I remember when I found this verse. At the time, it was so simple and profound to me. In my naivete, I thought that if people just knew this verse was in the Bible it would start them on the path to real change—as though it was a “magic” verse, an answer to everything, like 42. “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person” (Ecc. 12:13).
That’s it, that is all anyone would ever need to do. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). This is where they should start. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John. 5:3). Fearing God should naturally move into keeping his commandments and morph into a love for Him. What was stopping people from being obedient? Here is the verse, what doth hinder thee?
The hearer of this verse must first fear God for it to have its effect. In my youth and small view of the world, I did not understand how people could not fear God. After all, it was He who spoke the world into existence. It was the I AM that formed man out of the dust of the ground. It was the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob that delivered His people. What I failed to grasp was that you have to be taught and/or raised to believe and to fear the Lord. There is no magic verse or formula of verses that when recited in the proper order with the correct version will automatically change hearts and minds.
Experience and wisdom now ask the question, “Do you fear God?” If there is no healthy respect for who God is, then His words are empty to the hearer. The fear of the Lord must be in our hearts. There needs to be a reaction when we read His words (Luke 24:32). We should be convicted, admonished, instructed, edified, and prepared (2 Tim. 3:16-17). A heart that fears God is able to say, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15). It matters little what happens in this life. He is sovereign and able to do what He wills with His creation. Who are we to say anything to the potter (Rom. 9:20)? A heart that fears God has life in perspective and is balanced in understanding of who he/she is in relation to God. Solomon said, “The conclusion of the matter…” At the end of the day, when all is said and done, fear God. Solomon had tried every avenue of the human experience to live an unfettered life of pleasure, all was vanity. This applies to every man or is the whole duty of man. The fear of God is more important to our children than reading, writing and arithmetic. It is more important than any sport or any musical note. If there could be a magic verse for our families, this would be it.