“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord!” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.” “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom.” “By the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” Psalm 128:1; Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 9:10; 14:26-27; 15:33; 16:6
When I ponder the fear of the Lord, I think about the current confusion between truth and feeling. I heard a modern poet quoted yesterday as saying, ‘People will not remember what you said, but how you made them feel.’ In so many spaces in our culture today, feelings have trumped truth as the raison d’être, the standard for making decisions and legislation, the justification for action and reaction.
The fear of God felt by most in the world stems not from accurate knowledge of Him but from perceptions rooted in feelings that can change on a whim. Media and societal dictates, inner struggles with changing emotions, guilt, and misunderstanding, the insatiable desire to have my opinions validated as gospel, have a right to do things my way, and have my choices condoned and celebrated, all confuse the true image of God. These misperceptions drive me to assume He is mean, a kill-joy, an angry, bellicose tyrant; therefore, I can only tremble but never approach Him.
God’s word teaches us a different perspective. The fear we are to have of the Lord is not one of feeling, but one based on truth; it is a proper understanding of, with consequent humble reverence for, all our great and infinite God is. When we grow in our understanding of His creative perfection, justice, love, purity, sovereignty, He is magnified, and we recognize our rightful smaller place before Him. We are not diminished in any way, we do not cower or cringe; we are His image-bearers of whom He is benevolently mindful, crowned with glory and honor, treasured by Him, yet beneath Him. (Psalm 8:3-6)
Our fear of the Lord brings the blessings of wisdom, knowledge, understanding; it gives us strong confidence and is a fountain of life. Fearing God guards our way from evil, giving hatred for it and strength to turn from it. Over the years, I have prayed our children and grandchildren will fear the Lord, develop a deep understanding of His supremacy and worship Him appropriately. I desire they be filled with wisdom and guarded in their ways. This is the life He promises to bless!
Almighty, sovereign King of kings, teach me to fear You aright, in humility, love, gratitude, and praise. You are very great, and by Your redemption You make me worthy to be called Your own. You are God, and I am not. May I worship You always in Spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)