In my High School Bible class we recently concluded our survey of the five poetry and wisdom books in the Old Testament. Both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes give a foundational principle that can be confusing and has troubled some believers. Proverbs 1:7 declares “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” And Ecclesiastes 12:13 wraps up the book with “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments.”

Are we really supposed to fear God? That all depends on our relationship with him and our understanding of the challenge. What does it mean to fear the LORD?

I don’t think it means we should run from, avoid, or shrink away from him like we would a dangerous animal or situation. After all, he is our Creator and Heavenly Father and he loves us. He also is our friend, but he is not our pal or good buddy.

In my teaching the past few years I’ve been thinking and talking about the fear of the LORD quite a bit in trying to understand what it means and challenge my students. A couple of weeks ago I realized my proposals suggest an acrostic: ARWOL.

Fear of the LORD begins with an acknowledgement of his existence. You no doubt believe God is, but not everyone does. To fear the LORD we must acknowledge the LORD. But it is more than that.

To fear the LORD is also to respect him. By their words and actions, a lot of people who acknowledge God certainly don’t seem to respect him. To fear the LORD we must respect the LORD. But it is more than that.

To fear the LORD is to worship him. And by that I don’t mean simply going to church. Of course I think it means we go to church, but worship involves much more than just going to church. It goes beyond acknowledging and respecting him to honoring him for who he is. To fear LORD we must worship the LORD. But it is more than that.

To fear the LORD is to obey him. That’s part of what Ecclesiastes 12:13 is saying goes with fearing God. But it is not to intimate that if we fear the LORD we will perfectly obey him. We know that is not the case. We might say we try to obey him or we intend to obey him or our resolve is to obey him even though we are not always successful. But because we fear him it is our intention and goal to obey him. But it is more than just obey him.

Finally in my acrostic, to fear the LORD is to love him. You remember I’m sure Jesus’ answer to the question asked of him in Matthew 22:36 and 37 about the greatest commandment. He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” My paraphrase: love God completely. To fear the LORD we must love the LORD. And to love the LORD is to acknowledge, respect, worship, and obey him.

I’m interested in what you think. Please feel free to leave a comment below (or email me at bobmmink@gmail.com) and/or share this post on Facebook or other social media.

7 thoughts on “FEAR THE LORD?

  1. Another thought provoking discourse. Thank you!
    I really miss your messages each Sunday but following your blog is very helpful always.
    Hope you and Jan are enjoying this season of your lives. It sounds as if you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob, I don’t think I have ever thought deeply about the fear of the Lord. If I am honest, I just blindly accepted it as face value. Now thinking a little deeper I think you nailed it on the head. It is a reverence, love and respect. Not wanting to let God down. Even trying to hide my sin from him.it is the way I interacted with my own parents. Thanks for the thought provoking blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob, everything you wrote is exactly my understanding of fearing the Lord. When I first started reading this article I kept thinking fear means respect but then as I read more you state that feeling is also laugh… Never really thought about it that way but I agree. Also what you said about fear is obeying God but doesn’t mean that we well do it perfectly… I always feel that obeying God’s word means to walk in his path the best you can… But of course we well sawy on that path at times but I feel that because I truly love God and fear God that I will always get back on the path the best I can. Thanks for sharing this!


  4. Pingback: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEAR GOD? | Pastor Bob Mink

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