What Does It Mean to “Fear the Lord?”

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy one is understanding.”  –Proverbs 9:10

In the ninth chapter of Proverbs, Solomon compares wisdom with foolishness. In his description of wisdom, he writes that the “beginning” of wisdom is the “fear of the Lord”. In other words, fearing the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Today I want to ask the question: what does it mean to fear Him?

Appropriately fearing the Lord involves understanding His divine attributes of holiness, righteousness, justice, and power. Jesus tells his disciples, “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.” When we consider God’s omniscience (He knows and sees everything), His justice (to punish the guilty) and His power (to destroy the soul and body in hell), we should fear Him because we are sinful. This fear drives us to the Cross of Christ, where God not only demonstrates His holiness and justice, but his mercy and steadfast love through providing a way for us to be reconciled to Him.

After we repent and trust Christ for salvation, fearing the Lord remains foundational. Jesus is our perfect model in matters of living righteously before God, so we look to Him as our example in fearing God. One of the best examples is when Jesus prays in Gethsemane, fearing the coming wrath of God and suffering of death but prays “Father…thy will be done” anyway. Jesus fears God out of the awe, reverence, and love that has characterized their eternal relationship, but submits to His will out of humble obedience and faith. The Christian life is the call to do the same.

Application

  1. Look to Christ as the One who saves us from our sins and the righteous judgment from God we deserve.
  2. Consider the question: Do I fear God the same way Jesus did? If not, ask God to give you a healthy fear of Him.

“God, help me to have a healthy fear of you that encompasses all of your attributes. May that fear be built on awe, reverence, and love, and create humility and obedience in me.”

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