The Fear of the Lord

Psalm 111:10
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!

While growing up in the church, the topic of “fearing the Lord” came up frequently. Whenever the term fear was brought up, there would always be the qualifiers attached to it or a reimagination of the definition. Even though the Bible was clearly saying to “fear” God, I was taught that “fear” was better translated as “respect”. But if that is the case, then why doesn’t the Bible say to respect God instead?

The idea behind the fear of the Lord comes from understanding the great power that the Lord possesses. The fear of God understands that God has the whole universe in the palm of His hand and that all things are held together by His will. His strength is so great that we are left in awe. We are left in fear because His strength is so much greater than our strength. Fear is based in the understanding that something has power to alter or change our life outside of our own control. We do not fear things that are weak and powerless, but we fear things that challenge our sense of control.

Matthew 10:28 - 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Fearing God comes at understanding that not only is He more powerful than us, but it is also to understand that He is wiser and smarter than us. Of course, we understand this on a logical level (who could say that they are smarter than God?) but on a practical level we question the wisdom of God daily. We question His wisdom when we decide to ignore and disobey His commandments. Sometimes we fear more the idea of being poor in money than the fear of God, which leads us to obeying the world and our own plans rather than trusting in the plans of God.

Philippians 2:12-13 - 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

To properly fear the Lord, we must acknowledge His Lordship over us through obedience to His Word. As we obey His commandments and follow Christ, we are told to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I think that this means we are called to focus on obeying Him even when it doesn’t make sense to us. Its not about it making sense to us, but fear of the Lord is understanding that the Lord is the only one in control. Following and obeying the Lord is our number one priority because we understand the sovereignty of God. We fear God by believing He is the only one that is in control of our life.

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