the Fear of the Lord

Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.”                  (Acts 13:26)

We don’t talk enough about the Fear of the Lord. Even when we do talk about it, some will complain that we say too much.

We do need to talk about it, and we need to talk about it with understanding. Once you see the phrase in your regular reading, you’ll begin to see it everywhere. One of my favorite Psalms includes a discussion on Fear of the Lord. (Psalm 34)

There are 2 main categories of Fear.

  • Fear that Motivates us into action.
  • Fear that Hibernates (freezes us from action).

The Fear of the Lord that motivates is the right kind of fear. Fear that causes us to turn away from God and away from action is the wrong kind of fear.

To help us define the Fear of the Lord, let’s look at its appearing in Proverbs.

The FEAR of the LORD. (From Proverbs)

Pr 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Pr 1:29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

Pr 2:4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

Pr 3:7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

Pr 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Pr 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Pr 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

Pr 14:2 He that walketh in his uprightness feareth the LORD: but he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him.

Pr 14:26 In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

Pr 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

Pr 15:16 Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

Pr 15:33 The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

Pr 16:6 By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

Pr 19:23 The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Pr 22:4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

Pr 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

Pr 24:21 My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:

Pr 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Pr 31:30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

As you can see from this reading that the Fear of the Lord is much deeper than being afraid of Him, or afraid of His punishment. There’s a comfort found in the Fear of the Lord. There is a motivation into godly action.

The good FEAR is the fear which an obedient child has for a loving father; the attitude of respect or reverence. It prompts godly action that is pleasing to God. It brings assurance, comfort, confidence, and joy. It produces peace in our minds.

The wrong kind of FEAR is: The painful emotion marked by alarm, dread, or disquiet. It is anxious concern, fright, terror, timidity, and apprehension. It prompts cowardly actions. It produces confused and frantic minds. It results in sleepless, restless nights. It expresses itself in selfishness, thoughtlessness, and greed. It destroys inner unity and peace.

Jesus describes the two types of fear this way: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28). In this context, there is a fear that is wrong; the fear of man. The fear of man prevents us from godly action.

God is able to destroy, but He is also able to save. He saved Noah because of his godly fear. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb 11:7; Ge 6:13,22).


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