Am I to FEAR the Lord?

Am I to FEAR the Lord?

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).

Fear may be the strongest of human emotions.

Fear thrills and it baffles. It fascinates. It repels.

We’re afraid of physical forces threatening injury or death. And so we quicken our pace to match our elevated heart-rate when, from the corner of our eye, we observe a sinister figure lurking in the alleyway on a dark night. 

But we’re also afraid of what we don’t see with our naked eyes. More than ever in our lifetime, we’ve become intensely aware by unseen viruses with the potential to adversely affect physical health.

Deep down, maybe we all have a nagging fear for being found out for who we really are? What if people knew what I really think, what I really want, who I really am?

Add to that, experiences we’ve all had that leave emotional bruises or psychological scars: being paralyzed by performance anxiety, or experiencing the shame of a relational rejection and the social phobia that results.

And so we’ve come to fear fear. We develop a protective shell.

In our safe and sanitized era, fear must be quelled, if not eradicated. After all, it has the capacity to deeply compromise mental health.

And yet the Bible repeatedly calls on us to fear the Lord.

What’s that all about?

How are we to understand the concept of fearing God when we think of Him as a loving Father?

Or, when we read of the Lord Jesus lovingly laying down His life for those who were His enemies?

I count 20 times in the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus where He (or an angel, or an ancient prophetic word) declared: fear not! or its counterpart, be not afraid!

And so we’re to not succumb to fear but at the same time, to fear God?

Is the Bible self-contradictory? Is Holy Scripture inconsistent, or even illogical?

Or, is there a rational – even profitable – resolution? Can fear be negative in some situations and beneficial in others?

We teach our children to recognize – and to fear – forces that are powerfully negative, harmful, and even destructive. 

We have locks on our doors for a reason.

And yet, fear can be a healthy reaction when it leads to rational self-protection.

Most importantly, biblical fear fuels a constructive, soul-feeding passion for God.

After all, He is the All-Mighty One. It is foolish to set ourselves as recipients of His disfavour.

Consequently, the clear teaching of the Old Testament wisdom literature commends the fear of the Lord as life-giving and providing existential life-treasure to His people:

  •  wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 9:10).
  •       length to life (Proverbs 10:27).
  •       wealth and honour and life (Proverbs 22:4).
  •       light and salvation (Psalm 27:1).
  •       the stored up goodness of the Lord (Psalm 31:19).

The psalmist declared that those who fear Him are targets of His protective and unfailing love (Psalm 33:18, 34:7), lacking nothing (Psalm 34:9).

Takeaway: In fact, a relationship with the God of the Bible is not possible without fearing Him.

And biblical fear is inextricably connected to Gospel courage.

Here’s how: the moral, righteous courage to follow Christ demands the bedrock foundation of first learning to fear the Lord: His righteousness, His holiness, His unparalleled grandeur.

I think the Lord Jesus’ favourite Old Testament book may have been Deuteronomy as He quotes from it more than any other. That book of the Torah consistently calls on God’s people to fear Him:

…what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul (Deuteronomy 10:12).


~ graphic from sammylee 

About Us

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28 The community at Bethel includes a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Young and old, families and singles, English-speakers and those with a French mother-tongue, various ethnic and religious backgrounds. We reflect the make up of the city of North Bay. More importantly though, we are a group of people who Jesus has saved through his work on the cross. By God's plan of redemption we were all brought into one family as brothers and sisters in Christ, given a mission to reach into our world and make disciples for Him. We hope you will find at Bethel a friendly, loving group of people striving to live for Jesus Christ. Whether you are visiting for the day or trying to find a permanent church home, you are welcome to join us as we together seek out Him.