On the 9th June, AD 597, Columba, the extraordinary Irish saint who became God’s apostolic messenger to Scotland, through his work at Iona, was writing out a copy of Psalm 34. He reached our Scripture for today and knew that the Lord was telling him to write no more, as from that day on he would lack no good thing. The time of his calling home had come. A few hours later, surrounded by his brother monks, he waved his hand in an act of farewell blessing and went to be with the Lord.
A few days later some visiting monks arrived to see St. Columba and asked some brothers if Columba was well. Their reply was simple but profound. “Yes, truly he is well – for he is with Christ!” All his life Columba had sought the Lord and the Lord assured him at the moment of his passing that he would lack no good thing – all was indeed well. For those who love the Lord, this is their inheritance as saints of God.
But before he died Columba passed on an instruction for his successor. When he had stopped transcribing Psalm 34 at verse 10, he said, “let Baithene write what follows,”. This is what the next verse says: “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord”. In this very simple instruction Columba was not only passing on to Baithene a request to finish the work of transcribing the psalm, but showing Baithene how he must live in order that his life and ministry should be fruitful.
There are several places in Scripture where we read words such as “the fear of the Lord is beginning of wisdom.” Such holy fear is not a response to the fist-shaking of a fearsome despot, but is the deepest response we can ever make to the love of God. When He loves us so much, why would we ever want to do anything but walk in His ways?. But the truth is, our carnal nature constantly trips us up and we are prone to temptation and sin. So what is it that will constantly keep us in tune with God and walking with him? The answer is contained in the first verse that Baithene had to transcribe after succeeding Columba at Iona. It was the ongoing key to God’s blessing for the brothers in the community – and it is the ongoing key for each one of us as we seek to respond to the love of God in our daily service of Him – the fear of the Lord.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for the amazing work of the early pioneers of Christian truth. Thank you for their extraordinary example of holy living. Teach me, Lord, how to love and serve You in holy fear and in my generation to be a pioneer of truth to a very needy world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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