30 Days in the Bible, Day 15: Proverbs 2:1-6
As we read the book of Proverbs, we find the phrase “fear of the Lord” over and over again (depending on your translation, a dozen times or more). This isn’t talking about the fear that unrepentant sinners should have toward the Lord, a fear of His judgment. These generally urge the one who would follow the Lord to fear Him. Today’s passage tells us to seek wisdom so that we may “understand the fear of the Lord.”
To modern ears, this sounds unusual, to say the least. We consider fear an entirely negative emotion, one that we seek to avoid. Perhaps the only time we genuinely seek “fear” is when we’re watching a horror movie, but then the fear is tempered by the fact that we’re watching can’t really hurt us. When we think we’re in danger, we experience real fear, and it’s not something that we like.
So why would the Bible tell us to fear the Lord? I believe there are two primary aspects to this fear. The first is that we recognize the awesome power and majesty of God. In Israel at the time of the United Kingdom and in the cultures that surrounded them, the king was a figure of majesty, one to whom proper respect was due. Even today, if you were to come into the presence of a powerful ruler, even in a democratic country like the United States, you would be very careful to pay proper respect to that leader. There is a recognition that there is a gap between our station and that of the ruler.
If this is true on an earthly level, how much more is it true of the almighty God? While we certainly have the right through Jesus Christ to approach the Father and to approach Him as children, we have to remember we are also approaching the King. Sometimes Christians approach Jesus casually, as just a friend who is there to help us, but without any sense of His glory and majesty. We should approach Jesus as a friend (which He certainly is), but never forget that He is also our King and Lord.
The second aspect is that of standing before a judge. We are set free from judgment through the blood of Jesus, but that does not change the fact that we are sinners saved by grace. As such, we deserve nothing more than eternal judgment in hell. The only reason we are not going to receive that judgment is the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Understanding this, we approach the Lord with gratitude for His mercy, but with humility as we realize our place before Him. Our fear is not a trembling horror at judgment, but an honest understanding of who we are and who God is.
The fear of the Lord is not something to be dreaded by the Christian, but to be embraced. Reverence, wonder, and humility keep us from treating God as something less than He is, while at the same time giving us awe at the love, mercy, and grace of this infinite God that saves us from what we deserve. As we approach God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- we must have a Biblical fear that leads us to worship and honor Him.