When I was a small child, my favourite times were at the weekends or when we were on holiday, because my father would not be at work and would be with us. When he was there we always had tremendous fun, and he made all activities seem interesting and exciting. I loved my dad so much that I would try not to do anything to displease him. We also knew that, if we stepped out of line and did something naughty, there would be consequences! In that way you could say that I ‘feared’ my dad in the way that the Bible speaks about fearing the Lord.
I once did a study of what Scripture says about the fear of the Lord. It filled several pages and showed me what a key it is in our Christian lives, starting with salvation – see today’s verse from Isaiah. We are also told that it is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 1:7). Recognising God’s holiness and holding Him in reverence and awe will keep us from sinning (Exodus 20:20). For those who fear the Lord there are promises of blessing (Psalm 128:1), protection (Psalm 34:7), provision (Psalm 34:9) and health (Proverbs 3:7).
The fear of the Lord is also a key to deeper relationship with God. He reveals His love to those who fear Him (Psalm 103:17) - who hold in right balance intimacy with Him as Father, and the fact that He is also Almighty God, King of kings and Lord of lords. He is then able to trust us, and to confide in us (Psalm 25:14).
It is something that God looks for in people He wants to call into leadership or ministry roles too. We see this in Exodus 18:21 when Moses’ father-in-law Jethro recommended appointing officials to help him, saying: “Select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men …”
How do we develop the fear of the Lord in our lives? It is a work of the Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of the fear of the Lord in Isaiah 11:2. We therefore need to ask for the Spirit to fill us and to be working in us daily. Perhaps it is also something we should be praying for and asking God to teach us.
Psalm 34:11 says: ‘Come my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord’. This verse seems to sum up for me the right balance of being able to come to our Heavenly Father as His children, approaching Him in confidence and listening to Him, but at the same time having the fear of the Lord, so that we approach Him with reverence and awe. I believe that God wants to teach us more about this.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that I can approach You with confidence, knowing that I am Your child. Forgive me if in doing this I have not been sufficiently aware of Your holiness, and have not been living in the fear of the Lord. Please teach me more about this. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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