It's a phrase I've thought a lot about lately. "The fear of the Lord". One that I've found in the Bible constantly in my readings and whenever God shows something to me more than once, I pay attention. So what is the fear of the Lord? The fear of the Lord is an expression of piety and honor towards God. A state of mind that is constantly aware of God's presence. An attitude of reverence. To go even further, it's an actual fear of God's wrath. So, what does the Bible have to say on the subject?
It's a number of things. Proverbs 1:7 says
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 19:23 says
The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction. He will not be visited by evil.
In fact, the book of Proverbs mentions the exact phrase "the fear of the Lord" a total of 14 times. That got my attention. Solomon, the wisest man, who ever lived, wrote Proverbs. Apparently, he knew that the fear of the Lord was the beginning of opening of the gateway to the knowledge that God has to offer.
So, let's take a look at these 2 examples. What can we glean from it? Well, first off, the fear of the Lord is the first step towards knowledge, as I mentioned earlier. Having that level of respect and honor towards God will create a desire to know more about Him and to understand more about the nature of who He is, which is a great thing for a Christian to have, not only for your own benefit, but to benefit those who are around you everyday, Christians and non-Christians alike. But what does the rest of the verse say? It says that "fools despise wisdom and instruction." So apparently to not have the fear of the Lord is foolish because having wisdom and instruction is essential. Having wisdom is necessary for a Christian to decide between right and wrong. Sometimes it's easy to recognize what's right and what's wrong. Some things are just understood, like if I see a wallet on a park bench, I shouldn't take it because that's stealing. But there are some situations where having wisdom can help you make the best decision, where what's right and what's wrong isn't as clearly laid out.
We learn more as we move to the second verse. "The fear of the Lord leads to life". Wait a minute, what does this mean? Well, here Solomon is saying that true life is living God's way. He says that having the fear of the Lord will allow us to "abide in satisfaction." Have you ever sinned and it felt good, at least temporarily? I know I have. That's how temptation works. Satan shows us the immediate benefit and satisfaction of sin, without showing us the consequences. However, once we've committed sin, the Spirit convicts us and the sin that was once appealing and satisfying is now painful and empty. But there is hope. If we have the fear of the Lord, we will "abide in satisfaction". That means if we go God's way, regret and emptiness and depression won't follow. In fact God makes us a promise that if we have the fear of the Lord, we won't be visited by evil. Wow, that's amazing! Just think about it, living for God, having the fear of the Lord in our hearts and minds prepare us for when temptation comes and we respond in the opposite manner that Satan expects us to go. When we are tempted to hold a grudge, we forgive, when we are tempted to lie, we tell the truth, when we want to complain, we thank God for what we already have.
The fear of the Lord is something that all Christians should have. An ever-present awareness of God's presence. A respect for who He is and what He can do. A heart that honors him with your life.
I pray that everyone who reads this will be challenged and will begin to ask the question, "Do I have the fear of the Lord in my life?" and will begin to take steps to honor God with your life.
A complete listing of the phrase in the Bible can be found here.