Fear is something that we normally have a negative association with. We talk of people fearing the dark or spiders. While the bible does speak of fear in this sense, it also uses the word in a more positive way. The phrase “the fear of the Lord” occurs 26 times. The use of the word ‘fear’ in these references does not mean to be scared of, but instead to show reverence, respect, to give honour, to obey or to worship. It is very much a positive use of the word. This little thought on some of these phrases I hope will just encourage, or even challenge the heart of the reader in their daily life.
The first two we will look at go very nicely together; “I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (Ps 34:11) and “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7). The idea of the Proverbs reference is that it is the best knowledge to gain, and Psalms reference would tell us that it can be taught. That teaching is found in reading and studying the bible personally and hearing teaching on it. Both are good to enjoy, but that which you learn and discover yourself stays far longer in the memory and heart.
The next one to look at is “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 9:10). Wisdom is more to do with the use and application of knowledge than what we know. As we learn and understand more of God, and His Son Jesus Christ, you will find a spiritual wisdom grows. This fear of the Lord will give a right perception and understanding, not just of the Bible, but of all that you see and hear of in your life and in the world.
“His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (Isa 11:3). There is only one person that this verse is perfectly true of and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Another mention of this phrase speaks of it being “His treasure”. When we look at Christ we see one who lived a perfect holy life, He lives out each and every reference of the fear of the Lord.
Finally, we come to a couple of challenges that can be drawn. Firstly “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil” (Prov 8:13). It is to hate that which God hates. It will produce a Christ-like life in all of us and a sensitivity to that which is sinful and evil. Secondly, in Acts the Christians were said to be “walking in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:31). It was their daily walk; they were marked by it in their daily lives. These last two verses are probably the most challenging, but if we are to daily walk in the fear of the Lord, we will need to desire to learn, to gain the best knowledge of all (that knowledge of God), to allow that understanding to shape and mould our hearts. We will then see a desire to know Him more, a hatred of that which God hates in our lives and the world, and a more Christ-like walk.
Tim & Sarah