The Fear of the Lord: What is a God-Fearing Person?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Proverbs 1:7
Multiple times in the book of Proverbs and throughout the Bible, “the fear of the Lord” is mentioned. This fear is not the same thing as being afraid. It does not refer to apprehension or anxiety. Only those who are lost have that kind of fear. They fear death, they fear judgement, and they fear an eternity without God.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 tells us that it is our duty to fear God and keep His commandments. God sees every deed, good or bad, and judges each one. As Christians, we are to be God-fearing people. This means the fear of God causes us to want to live holy and righteous lives. Just as a child fears the consequences of their misbehavior and the fear of disappointing his or her parent, we should also fear the consequences of our disobedience and strive to please our heavenly Father. And like a young child, we should love our Daddy and cling to Him so much that we are afraid of being away from Him for even one second. Children learn how to behave out of fear of discipline. Then when they are older, they (hopefully) obey out of love. It is the same with us and God. There are times we are obedient to God because we fear the consequences of our disobedience. But hopefully, once we are more mature Christians, we obey God out of love and reverence for Him.
Without the fear of the Lord, we are likely to turn to our old sinful natures. The fear of the Lord helps us stand up to temptation. Fear together with love and trust is the kind of fear that leads us to Christ. The fear of the Lord is a holy reverence or awe. It is a position of worship and trust before the Lord. It is an understanding of God’s power. Fear of god means responding to the holy spirit when we feel convicted. It means acknowledging that our God is a good Father and only wants the very best for us.
Psalm 147:11 says that the Lord delights in those who fear Him, and those who put their hope in His unfailing love. God extends His mercy to those who fear Him (Luke 1:50). Philippians 5:21 tell us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”. Since we cannot earn our salvation, working out our salvation means trusting and obeying God with awe, inspired by His holy presence and grace. Fear of God is instant and complete obedience because we trust Him, even if it doesn’t make sense, even if it hurts, even if we can’t see the outcome. Because He does!
The first step to finding wisdom is to learn to be obedient and to be worshipful of God. When we put God first, we discover the practical, competent, and perfect wisdom that only He can give. Fearing the Lord means living by the Word of God in grateful response to His grace, redemption and mercy. The fear of the Lord is the basic principle of knowledge. It should make us receptive to learning and to God’s leading. When we understand who God is and have a holy reverence for Him, we gain true wisdom.
The fear of God does not just give knowledge. There are many other benefits. The reverent fear of God brings integrity, and God protects those who walk in integrity. He leads those who submit to Him and makes their path clear. It brings spiritual insight. Fear and knowledge of God brings long life, health, and strength.
To fear God means to hate evil. It means avoiding evil at all cost. Fear and trust in God brings contentment. It brings a plentiful and happy life. Fear and humility before God brings honor. Our holy reverence of God means we take every thought captive and respond to a God who reveals Himself to us as our Lord and Savior. Unlike those who live godless lives and have no hope, those who fear the Lord have hope and a future.