Is it right to be afraid of God? Scripture tells us ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (Proverbs 9:10). How can we fear the One who tells us ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love?’ (Jeremiah 31:3). Surely if we are so dearly loved our response would be to love Him in return, not to fear Him? We tend not to be afraid of those who love us. We may respect, honour or cherish them, but not fear them.
The Book of Proverbs tells us to look for insight and understanding as if they were silver or hidden treasure, ‘then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God’ (Proverbs 2:5). Let’s look for the hidden treasure of wisdom, so that we might understand.
According to Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, ‘The fear of God is an attitude of respect, a response of reverence and wonder. It is the only appropriate response to our Creator and Redeemer’.
King David spelled out in detail what a fear of the Lord entails: ‘Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it’ (Psalm 34:13-14). As we live by God’s standards, in right standing with Him, we’re living in a healthy fear of God.
Suppose a teenager, dearly loved by his parents, wants to go out on a Saturday night. His parents may ask him to avoid particular parts of the town, and to be home by a certain time. He’s perfectly capable of making his own decisions, and in his own mind sure he’ll come to no harm. But being late home would cause his parents to worry, so he stays away from the specified areas and tries to be home on time, out of love and respect for those who love him. He is ‘fearing’ to be disobedient, out of love.
When Adam and Eve took the forbidden fruit, they deliberately disregarded the warnings of God. They stepped out of the protection of fear into the ‘freedom’ of disobedience. ‘for when you eat from it you will certainly die’ (Genesis 2:17). Without fearing the consequences, they fell into the outworking of a spiritual law: ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23).
‘If You should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared’ (Psalm 130:3-4). God’s forgiveness to all who repent gives us a reason to fear what might have been.
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, what is wisdom?
‘I, Wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion … I was formed long ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be ... I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep’ (Proverbs 8:12,23, & 27).
Could this be Jesus, with the Father, at the beginning of the world? Is a fear of the Lord a doorway to Jesus Himself?
Prayer: Awesome Father, the more I search for You, the more Your love becomes a living reality in my life. My desire is to fear You, way beyond my understanding, but with a knowledge that, whatever my shortcomings, they are as nothing to Your infinite wonder and grace. Amen.
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