If you have been following the Creator’s Classroom, you know that we talk about God being a loving Father. So just how is that compatible with today’s topic? What is the fear of the Lord?
You might be thinking, “How can I trust or love someone I am afraid of? This is a valid question especially if you ever lived with someone abusive.
Many people have a wrong understanding of “the fear of the Lord.” I hope in the next few minutes we can clear that up for you.
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Bible verses about “what is the fear of the Lord”
The following Scriptures are the main verses used when people talk about the fear of the Lord.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10 ESV
“Blessed is the man (or woman) who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments!” Psalm 112:1(explanation added)
These Bible verses tell us what happens when we fear the Lord. They don’t tell us precisely what the word “fear” is. We have to dig deeper because some meaning is lost in the translation.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be wise and I want to be blessed. Therefore I need to understand the Biblical phrase “fear of the LORD”.
Fear of the Lord meaning in Hebrew
Don’t let the word “fear” or the Hebrew definitions below throw you off. The primary usage in the Bible has to do with reverence or respect for God.
It is common to fear what people think of us. But it doesn’t mean we cower in dread like they are going to beat us up.
Instead, we treat them the way we think they want to be treated. We use language that does not offend them. We dress in clothing that we know they approve of.
It would be like standing before the ruler of a nation (king or president) and respecting them because of their position. We would want their approval.
The Hebrew word used in Proverbs 9:10 is yir-aw’. It means “morally reverent”. It is used 41 times in the Old Testament. Only once is it translated as “dreadful”. (1)
The Hebrew word used in Psalm 112:1 is yaw-way’. It primarily means “morally reverent”, and is used 188 times. But it also is translated in other places to be “dread” or “frighten”.
When God or angels physically appeared to humans in the Old and New Testaments, they indeed were frightened as if a ghost was standing before them. That is why many times it was said, “do not be afraid.”
God wanted their respect but not to be frightened of Him. He wants the same thing from us today.
Walking in the fear of the Lord
The way we live our life is often referred to as our “walk”. So walking in the fear of the Lord is living in the fear of the Lord. So what does that actually mean?
How do we show respect for God in the way we live each day? Here are some examples.
- Placing a high priority on listening to God
- Making our plans but allowing God to rearrange them if need be
- Considering what we wear as an act of worship for God
- Using language that helps people see God in us
- Thinking before we type ugly, angry words on social media
- Finding ways to serve others
Listening to God
Listening to someone is a true sign of reverence and respect. Not wanting to listen demonstrates contempt or disrespect for them.
These days God rarely speaks to us audibly, so how can we listen to God?
First, God has givenThe Bible to us. That is the primary way that God speaks to us. So one sure way to listen is to read the Bible and meditate on it and quote it back to ourselves after we have memorized portions of it.
Second, God has given Godly friends to us. We should never make any important decisions without consulting others as they can help us see our blind spots.
Third, God has given prayer to us. While much of our prayer time will be our talking to Him, He will often impress something on our minds as we are praying.
We should make our plans using Scripture as a guide. Anything that is not according to Scripture should never be a part of our plans.
But even with good plans, we should have some flexibility. Sometimes God has something better for us.
I had a day when I wanted to get my “to-do list” done. But a number of other things interfered with it and slowed down my progress. I had to choose between being frustrated or seeing what God had in store for me.
His plan brought me great joy as I got to serve someone else instead. You can read that story here.
What we wear
Teens and young adults are extremely vulnerable to peer pressure. Whatever is the newest fad is extremely important to have. Whatever skirt and short lengths are popular is what every girl wants to wear.
Peer pressure is being afraid of what others think. Yet this is a trap that many get caught in. Proverbs 29:25 says the fear of people is a snare. It often leads us down roads we should never go and then it is too late.
But what if we based our clothing on what God thinks? It’s not that all fads are evil. But some are.
We must remember that if we are a follower of Jesus the Scriptures say,
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Next time we get dressed to go out in public we need to ask ourselves, “Am I representing the Holy Spirit who lives in me?”
In contrast, emphasizing our bodies for others to admire and lust after is never honoring God. (2 Timothy 2:9)
Have you ever listened to your own language? Would it be something that your great-grandmother would be embarrassed about?
I am trying to clean up my language a bit. There are a few remnants of words that still have a stronghold in my life when I get frustrated due to years of habit.
Scripture says that on judgment day we will give an account for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36).
We are told in the book of Ephesians, chapter 4:29, that we are not to speak unwholesome words, but only those that build up others.
You see, if we think we are religious but do not take control of our words, we are deceiving ourselves, and our religion is worthless. (James 1:26)
Some pretty awful things are said on social media these days as people argue back and forth. There seems to be a certain sense of security and a loss of verbal control when people hide behind a social media account.
Yet God says that in everything we do we are to do it for His glory. (Colossians 3:17)
Telling someone off and attacking their character just to demonstrate we are right is never honoring God.
In fact, Jesus did not insist on being right when they hung Him on a cross. Instead, He asked God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)
What if we …
- stopped and prayed for the person who made a bizarre or ugly statement on social media?
- did not comment or return “tit for tat”?
- just kept scrolling?
Finding ways to serve others is another sign that we are walking in the fear of the LORD.
We are commanded to look out for others, encourage them, help them, and count them as more important than ourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 2:3-4).
The fear of the Lord is my strength
What does it mean, “the fear of the Lord is my strength?”
We now know that fearing the Lord is not something dreadful, or something to be frightened about. But how does that translate into the strength we need for living each day?
“Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!” Psalm 34:9
“The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.” Proverbs 14:27
You see when we fear the Lord we have everything we need to live a successful life for Him. He is our fountain of life.
This same thought is repeated in the New Testament where Peter wrote that God gives us everything pertaining to living a Godly life. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
And while we are commanded to fear the Lord, we are not to fear people.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
When we have great respect and reverence for God, and we also know that He is with us, we have great strength to do whatever He wants.
The fear of the Lord is a blessing, while fear of people is a trap.
The truth is we will fear one or the other. I hope you will choose the fear of the Lord.
However, to live in awe and respect for God requires that we have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you don’t know Jesus, you probably have questions. The people at Chat About Jesus have answers. You can text, call, or chat with them online any time of the day or night.
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