Over the past couple of months I’ve been working my way through the Psalms, and in doing so I have come across verse after verse that states or implies that the Lord is to be feared. Questions kept building in the back of my mind as to what the fear of the Lord actually means, because in our culture today we are often taught that to fear the Lord simply means to honour and respect Him. Our culture says that if God is truly good and loving, what could there possibly be that we would we need to be terrified of?
In looking further into the fear of the Lord and what it means I found that not only is the fear of the Lord frequently mentioned in the Psalms, but Scripture is riddled with verses stating that God is to be feared. One verse in particular explains why Scripture constantly reminds us of this: Ecclesiastes 12:12 states that to fear God and keep His commandments is the whole and entire duty or purpose of man.
So what does this mean?
There are two meanings, or parts, to our call to fear God, with one part neither greater or lesser than the other:
1) We are to fear God with a holy terror. He is not a fluffy rabbit who needs to be cuddled and loved, who will turn and run at any sign of danger or disloyalty. Rather God is a mighty roaring lion who stands strong and firm, who bears His teeth at any hint of disloyalty, who is not afraid and will not hesitate to bring punishment to the disloyal, who will not hesitate to attack the enemy with every ounce of His strength. Our God is to be feared.
2) We are also called to fear God in the sense that we are to bow down at His feet in holy awe, worship and reverence. For though He is not hesitant to use His power and might to stand and come against, He is equally not hesitant to use his power and might to protect and uplift His brood.
Our God is a strong and mighty lion. And He is loving and compassionate. His love is a fierce, powerful love, a love that is not afraid to move mountains and throw them into the sea, a love that is not hesitant to discipline, a love that desires only the very best for His children, a love that is fiercely jealous and protective. His love is also gentle and patient and forgiving, giving us chance after chance when we’ve done wrong, gently wooing us into relationship with Him on our time.
Our God is to be feared with terror, awe and reverence. He is to be worshipped on bended knee, with outstretched hands and whole abandon.