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Fear of the Lord

I can remember many times in my life where I have been afraid.  It’s never a thing I’ve enjoyed and never a place I’ve wanted to stay. Does God want us to fear him?  Are we supposed to tremble and be afraid?

The main verse of Proverbs which sets the tone for the whole book is Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Now compare that verse with 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”

Is this a contradiction?  Short answer is no.

The fear being described in 1 John, as he says, has to do with punishment.  Verse 17 talks about the day of judgment. So, John is telling us that we do not need to be afraid to stand before the Lord at the end of our lives if we have been saved. This is a different topic than the fear of the Lord in the book of Proverbs. The fear of the Lord in Proverbs is not a reference to final judgment, but rather a disposition in which we are to live. Fear of the Lord includes…

·      Reverence towards God
·      Humility in the way you live
·      Awe and admiration and honor of God’s perfections

Let’s walk through some of the Proverbs that speak directly of the fear of the Lord.

General Teachings

Proverbs 1:7

There are two parts to this verse. The first part “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” This begins by repenting of sin and trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you are familiar with the book of Ecclesiastes then you know that King Solomon essentially tries to find the meaning and purpose of life, and he does so without including God in the picture. At the end of this quest he concludes…

Ecclesiastes 12:13

Fear God. Keep his commandments. This is everything for us!

The second part of Proverbs 1:7, “fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

It’s ridiculous to say that those who reject God have no knowledge or understanding of anything.  Some of the brightest people in this world are either indifferent or hostile toward God. The issue is this: fools cannot see the whole picture.  There is truth and beauty beyond the world’s knowledge and wisdom.

Proverbs 2:1-5

There are 6 “if” statements in these verses and they imply these two things about fearing the Lord: first, you must be willing to submit to God and second, you must put in the effort to fear the Lord. It won’t happen automatically. It’s a decision of the will. After that, verse 5 tells us “then” we will find the fear of the Lord. It is something that we must desire and put effort into.

Specific Teachings about Fearing the Lord

1 – Holiness and Health

These verses make a link between fear of the Lord, holiness, and health. Essentially, if we have fear of what could go wrong if we make certain choices, then we will be more likely not to make that bad choice. If we have fear of what evil will do to us, then we will stay away from evil. Thus, the fear of the Lord leads to a general type of health.

Proverbs 3:7-8
Proverbs 8:13

2 – Blessing Our Families

Proverbs 14:26

3 – Truly “The Good Life”

There is a general type of good life and satisfaction that comes with fearing the Lord, not that everything always goes well, but that there is peace in your heart with the life you are choosing to live.

Proverbs 14:27
Proverbs 19:23
Proverbs 22:4

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