The Fear of the Lord

Last week I wrote a blog post focused on the promise of Psalm 33:18: “Behold the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him.” While the message last week centered on the concept of “God’s eye”, I want to focus today on the notion of the fear of the Lord. What does it really mean to fear God?

Proverbs 14:26 declares, “In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence.” At first glance, this is appears to be an oxymoron, a paradox. Since fear and confidence are opposites, it just doesn’t seem logical that fear can actually produce confidence. Or does it?

When I used to travel frequently for work, I spent a good bit of time on airplanes and in airports. I did my fair share of people watching and regularly observed people who were anxious in airports. Anxious as they tried to get upgraded to first class and got placed on the waiting list. Annoyed that their oversized bags (that they thought were approved carry-on size) had to be checked, and anxious that they’d lose their luggage in the process. Anxiously waiting in the slow-moving security line, fearing they’d miss their flight. Anxious about seat assignments, the temperature on the plane, babies crying in the row behind them. Anxiety in airports and airplanes is rampant!

But for the person who fears flying—the person with a true phobia of air travel—all of the aforementioned “problems” are not even on the radar!  The person with flight-phobia is only thinking one thing: somebody get me off this plane because we are about the crash and I’m gonna die! The primary fear of flight itself replaces any secondary fear or anxiety associated with air travel that might surface.

When God’s Word says that “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence”, it means that when we fear God, nothing else or no one else can intimidate us! The primary fear (the fear of the Lord) has replaced secondary fears (our circumstances). 

To fear God doesn’t necessarily mean to be afraid of Him, either. A few years ago I got my motorcycle endorsement so I could ride my dad’s Harley. I’m not scared of motorcycles. If I was, I wouldn’t even get on one. But I do fear them. I have a healthy respect, fear, for the bike; I realize and respect the power it holds and the danger that is possible every time I mount it. And it’s the same way with the fear of the Lord. We reverence Him and respect Him as the all-powerful God in whom we live and move and have our being. When we recognize that we can’t take another breath without God and that we can’t take another step without His help, and that He alone is in charge of it all, then we can confidently face any trial that comes our way!