When we think of fear, we don’t usually associate it with something pleasant. Google defines fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
Fear is something we have all experienced; whether it’s from being in an unsafe situation, or even something like being afraid of the dark. Due to our past experiences, we have come to associate fear as something negative.
Many people don’t understand the “fear of the Lord” and try to associate it with a natural fear- something to run away from or avoid at all costs. However, when we look closely in the Bible, we can see there is an understanding and purpose to the fear of the Lord.
One of the seven Spirits of God is the fear of the Lord (Isa 11:2), and scripture tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Pro 9:10). But how do we walk in the correct understanding of the fear of the Lord?
Webster’s Dictionary defines this ‘fear’ as:
“In scripture, fear is used to express a filial or a slavish passion. In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience. This is filial fear.”Webster’s Dictionary
Filial fear has to do with a relationship between a child and their parent. It is distinct from servile fear, which is the fear of a servant in relation to his master. Fathers are seen as disciplinary figures; through their wisdom and understanding of what is right and wrong, they, along with the mother, pass the instruction and morals down to their children.
The word fear means to reverence or to be in awe. Awe speaks of a deep respect or amazement.
If raised with parents who discipline them correctly, those children end up having respect for their parents- listening to and obeying them when instruction is given.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it”(Pro 22:6)
Ecclesiastes says that the duty of man is to fear the Lord and keep His commandments (Ecc 12:13), which lines up with Jesus’ words, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). Through the fear of God, we are able to receive instruction and teaching which allows us to walk in His commandments and turn away from evil.
The bible refers to God as our heavenly Father, as He is the one who instructs us and also disciplines us, showing us the way we should live which turns us away from evil. When we have a respect for God, then we respect and revere His words and instruction on how we should live (2Ti 3:16-17).
In order to truly walk in the fear of God, we have to be humble and teachable. Jesus said it is the meek that will inherit the earth (Mat 5:5). If we think we don’t need to learn, or are stuck in old ways of thinking, it can truly rob us of what God is trying to show us, which is really His nature.
“The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility”(Pro 15:33).
God desires a close relationship with us, but the Bible says we must walk in the light as He is in the light in order to be cleansed of our sins (1 Jn 1:7). If we truly love God, we will do everything we can to get close to Him, just like how Jesus gave His everything for us at the cross. A true fear and reverence for the Lord and His words will lead to us walking in obedience to them.
“In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil”(Pro 16:6).