“The one who despises the word will be in debt to it,
But the one who fears the commandment will be rewarded.”
The Living Bible paraphrases this verse, “Despise God’s Word and find yourself in trouble. Obey it and succeed.” One scholar has written. “The whole Bible is an exposition of this text.” The Amplified Bible translates this verse, “Whoever despises the Word [of God] brings destruction upon himself, but he who (reverently) fears and respects the commandment [of God] shall be rewarded.”
The one who despises
According to Webster, the word despise implies a strong emotional response toward that which one looks down upon with contempt. Who is the one who despises? According to the Bible, the fool is the one who despises the Word of God. This theme is introduced early in Proverbs where we read, “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7a). And according to the Bible, those who despise the Word of God are foolish. Jesus said, “And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand” (Matthew 7:26).
Notice that it is God’s Word that is despised by both fools and the foolish. Only an overflowing amount of pride, ignorance, arrogance and stupidity can account for such an attitude. And yet, we are all guilty of having despised God’s instruction at one time or another.
will be in debt to it,
Our despising God’s Word is like a tack hammer despising an anvil. It is the hammer that gets worn down and not the anvil. Despising God’s Word leads only to trouble (Joshua 6:16-26), destruction (Matthew 7:26-27), and affliction (Psalm 119:67). Notice Proverbs 13:14, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn aside from the snares of death.” Following God’s instruction will help us to avoid dangerous paths. Pressing ahead without the benefit of God’s instruction is both foolish and dangerous.
But the one who fears the commandment
Fear is a reference to a healthy respect for the Word of God. It is the opposite attitude of despise. Who is the one who fears the commandment? According to the Bible it is the wise man. See Proverbs 15:31 and 19:20. Jesus said, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock” (Matthew 7:24).
will be rewarded.
Obedience and disobedience alike are rewarded. We must choose whether we want the rewards or fruit of obedience or disobedience. Psalm 5:12 states, “For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O Lord, Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield.” Psalm 1:3 also speaks of the rewards enjoyed by those who are obedient to the Word of God.