The Bible speaks often of the “fear of the LORD” and commends it as the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10). But what does it mean to “fear” the LORD? Here is a brief survey of the Old Testament about that:
- To keep His commands (Deuteronomy 6:2; 17:19; 31:12; Psalm 111:10)
- To walk in all His ways, love Him, serve Him in sincerity and truth (Deuteronomy 10:12; Joshua 24:14)
- To praise and worship Him (2 Kings 17:36; Psalm 22;23)
- To depart from evil (Job 28:28: Proverbs 16:6)
- To hate evil, including pride and arrogance as well as evil conduct (Proverbs 8:13)
- To be in awe of Him (Psalm 33:8)
- To hope and trust in His chesed — the mercy, love and kindness of the LORD (Psalm 33:18)
- To sanctify the LORD and regard Him as holy (Isaiah 8:13)
- To come to His goodness (Hosea 3:5)
The fear of the LORD is not a terror for those who belong to Him and walk in His ways, only for those who live contrary to Him. I liken it to standing at the rim of the Grand Canyon — it’s a breath-taking view but you want to be careful that you don’t fall in. Or the healthy respect a lineman has for the power of electricity — if he does not work with it carefully, it can kill him.
The phrase, “fear of the Lord,” is found only one time in the New Testament and is coupled with the supernatural comfort that comes from the Holy Spirit: “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied” (Acts 9:31). This privilege belongs to the people of God.
(See also The Fear of the LORD: Experiencing God's Fullness)