Fearing God

In Psalm 112:1, we read, "Praise ye the LORD. Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments." Have you ever wondered why the Scriptures tell us to fear God? This may appear to be in conflict with the admonition to love him. How can we fear and love God at the same time? In fact, doesn't the apostle John say, "There is no fear in love" (1 Jn. 4:18)?

These two emotions seem to be in conflict only when we misunderstand what it means to fear the Lord. The fear that the apostle John is talking about is the fear of terror. In fact, he goes on to say, "but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love." This fear is the fear of those who are not living in obedience to God and whose consciences accuse them and make them aware of coming judgment (1 Jn. 4:17). Though this fear is a natural fear built into our conscience, this is not what the Psalmist and many other Biblical writers are referring to when the commend and command the fear of the LORD.

You can see that the fear of God is not the fear of terror which stems from disobedience to his commandments, because the Psalm goes immediately on to say that the one who fears the Lord also greatly delights in God's commandments. In other words, this fear is consistent with delight in God's commands and obedience to his commands. And this points us in the true direction of what it means to fear the Lord. It means that we are so delighted with and in awe of God's goodness and holiness that the thought of displeasing him is disgusting and distressing to us. We fear the Lord thus in the sense that we care more about the honor of his name than anything else, and we fear lest we should sully or tarnish God's glory through our carelessness or disobedience. This is not because we cringe and cower before the Lord but because we love him and are in awe of him.

Do you fear God in this way? Every time we pray the Lord's Prayer, we are essentially asking that God be feared, not only by us, but by all the world: "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name" (Mt. 6:10). To fear God is to hallow his name. My friend, there is no being, no person, no cause so worthy of our worship and our fear, our love and our obedience. Yes, praise the Lord! Blessed are they who fear him and delight greatly in his commandments!

By: Jeremiah Bass