Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
What does it mean to fear the Lord? I have asked this question of many people. I have received a variety of responses, but the most common answer is respect. We are to respect God. I agree we are to respect God, but is that what this particular verse is saying? In fact the Bible often commends the fear of the Lord as good. Read for yourself from Proverbs 9:10, Job 28:28, and Psalm 111:10. Psalm 112:1 says, “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord.”
Could it be that we only want to attribute fun and cuddly feelings to our relationship with God? Are we somehow averse to considering the holiness and majesty of our Creator? Of course, God is love, and He is surely merciful. He is also mighty, powerful, and just. You can’t love God in slices, and His power and authority are worthy of fear.
Fear is not always a bad thing. Fear has prevented me from doing a lot of stupid things over the years. Fear of negative consequences motivates me to drive safely, brush my teeth, avoid alcohol and tobacco, and work hard. Fear also causes me to seriously consider how I should speak to those in authority, and all of them pale in comparison with God. Read about the times when angels appeared before men. Man’s first response was always to fall to their faces and beg for mercy. And those were just angels!
The fear of the Lord is still the beginning of wisdom. The fear of the Lord also increases my gratitude for God’s mercy. God is infinitely holy, and yet He loves those who are born into sin. God is altogether perfect, and yet He invites the wretched to call out to Him. God’s justice demands the price of blood for our sin, and He mercifully paid it on our behalf.
Jesus said we should not be afraid of those who could only kill our bodies. Instead, we are to fear the One who has the authority to cast us into hell. However, those who know God have the security of a right relationship with Him. Just as God meets the needs of the birds, we know He will meet our needs too. (Luke 12:4-7)
May we better understand the holiness of our God, and may we better appreciate His love and mercy. Cling to Jesus like He is your only hope, because He is.
Psalm 147:11 – The LORD favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness.