Summary: Teaches what God's Word means in "fear God" & "fear of the Lord" passages. Many people think these scriptures mean we are to be afraid of God. Boo! teaches what these verses are really leading us to do.
Fear is an emotion that is learned early in life. It’s a healthy emotion that could save our lives in time of danger. We fear things like fire, snakes, & strangers who mean us harm. The range of things we fear is very wide. In a healthy family one person we should never fear is our parent. They only want the best for us & won’t hurt us. If that’s the case, why would the holy Bible tell us we should fear our Heavenly Father? The exact phrase "fear God" occurs 10 times in the King James Version & the phrase "fear the Lord" is seen in another 30 verses. The Bible tells us to “fear” God at least 300 times throughout the Book so it would be a mistake to downplay it's significance. The Bible uses repetition to stress importance.
We wonder why the Bible describes “fear of God” as a good thing yet in so many other places God's Word tells us to “fear not”. It's been said that the Bible has 365 verses telling us to not be afraid so there is a new verse of reassurance about fear every day of the year. The number 365 is convenient because it reminds us that God will protect us from fear every day. If we broaden the scope & include Scripture telling us to not worry or be anxious the number is much larger. The Bible clearly tells us to not fear. This leads us to believe it contradicts itself by telling us to “fear not” yet then says we should “fear God”.
While the common meaning of fear is one of dread or terror the meaning of the word in Scripture is quite different. Parents want their children to feel safe, happy, & joyful; not afraid. If earthly parents want their children to feel loved & safe how much more would that be true of our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him.
King Solomon wrote a well-known verse instructing us to fear God. Proverbs 1:7 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Let’s look deeper into the word fear. Both the Hebrew & Greek words from the Bible translated as “fear” have different meanings but they suggest a positive reverence of something. The original Hebrew word which is translated as fear is yare. The meaning of this word is to give reverence to or stand in awe of something. The Greek word phobos means a reverential fear.
Moses chose leaders who feared, or honored, God because he knew these people were less likely to take bribes offered to them to disobey what he knew God wanted them to do. In Genesis we also see that Joseph wins his brothers trust by telling them that he is a God-fearing man (Genesis 42:18).
One reason we should respect God is because of His great power. We have respect for the power & authority God has. To truly fear or give reverence to God we have a desire to live in harmony with His will and fulfill all that He has created us to be. We seek to honor Him in all we do.
Fear of God is stressed again in the New Testament. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tells us it would be foolish to show fear, or respect, only to those who can kill the body but not have reverence for the One who can destroy both the body AND the soul. This type of fear helps us have a positive & humble perspective of ourselves in a relationship with our awesome God. It helps us in times of temptation when we remember the commands of our Lord.
Rather than the paralyzing terror we generally associate with the word fear the type of fear involving the “fear of the Lord” is a positive force that promotes change. When we fully understand the meaning of this fear we have for our Heavenly Father the Bible is filled with promises that will be fulfilled when we give God the awe & reverence He so richly deserves. This fear is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 9:10, 15:33: “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” “The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; & before honor is humility”. It drives people to holiness. Proverbs 3:7, 16:6: “Be not wise in our own eyes: fear the Lord & depart from evil.” “By mercy & truth iniquity is purged: & by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.” It increases or prolongs life. Proverbs 10:27: “The fear of the LORD prolongs days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.“ It gives a sense of better security. Proverbs 14:26: “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge. And it makes all of life better! Proverbs 15:16: “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure & trouble therewith.”