“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those to seek the Lord lack no good thing. Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.”Psalm 43:8-11
That doesn’t sound like someone quivering in a corner, terrified of God. That sounds more like “fear the Lord” means “seek the Lord”. We’re supposed to seek after something that terrifies us? How about this one?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”Psalm 111:10
That’s sort of strange, too. I get good understanding by … being afraid? What’s going on here? What about this one?
“And do not fear him those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”Matthew 10:28
Destroy both body and soul? Okay, that’s scary. So what’s going on here? Why is “fear of the Lord” cast in these different contexts? Maybe this will help:
“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth; yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. Let the heavens be glad and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns!’ Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.”1 Chronicles 16:28-33
This passage wraps up the concepts nicely. God makes the earth and all in it tremble (because of His power); He’s due glory and worship (which is seeking after Him); His presence brings joy (those who fear Him have no lack, and all the earth rejoices); and He will judge the earth (when He will destroy those who oppose Him, both body and soul). Knowing all that, only a fool would oppose Him (which is where the wisdom part comes in).
We’ve tended, in recent years, to focus on God’s love for His people. That’s not a bad thing; He does love us, more than we can ever really understand. But we also need to keep in mind His awesome power and authority. He’s due respect, obedience, and worship. Those are expressions of our fear of His judgment and our gratitude for His rescuing us from it.
-Meditation by Mike Mitchell
Family discussion questions:
1. Spend some time considering Scriptures that express the awesomeness of God. (Ex: Job 9; Job 26; Psalm 97; Isaiah 13:11-13; Joel 2; Hebrews 12:20-21; Revelation 8). Do these passages change your perception of God?
2. Based on all the passages above, how would you describe a Biblical fear of God?
3. How would you interpret 2 Timothy 1:7 in light of these passages? Why can we now have a spirit of power and self-control?