The Fear of the LORD

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psalm 111:10, KJV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, KJV)

The English language often doesn’t even begin to convey the wealth that the scriptures hold. The English word fear holds some very definite connotations in our language and in our culture, but it fails to express the true meaning of the concept of the fear of the LORD. I’d like to share some items I found in my studies this morning that might prove enlightening.

One of the definitions of fear in Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words:

Used of a person in an exalted position… connotes ‘standing in awe.’ This is not simple fear, but reverence, whereby an individual recognizes the power and position of the individual revered and renders him proper respect. In this sense, the word may imply submission to a proper ethical relationship to God…

Contrasting definitions for the word fear from the American Dictionary of the English Language (Noah Webster, 1828):

1. A painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger.

6. In scriptures, fear is used to express a filial or a slavish passion. In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience. This is flilial fear.

Now before you run to your dictionary, as I had to, here is the definition of the word filial also from Websters, 1828.

1. Pertaining to a son or daughter; becoming a child in relation to his parents. Filial love is such an affection as a child naturally bears to his parents. Filial duty or obedience is such duty or obedience as the child owes to his parents.

2. Bearing the relation of a son.

Selah… (pause and calmly think of that)

And finally from my studies in the Tehillim (The Psalms with Jewish commentary), Mesorah Publications, ltd:

The masses fear sin only because they dread… the Dispenser of Strict Justice, who punishes for transgressions. They fail to realize that the act of sin in itself is harmful to both body and soul. I will teach you that… Hashem, the Dispenser of Mercy,  is the author of the prohibition against sin because in His boundless Mercy He is concerned for our welfare. You will learn to fear sin because HASHEM has determined it to be harmful, just as a kind father orders his son away from the thorn (Eitz Yoseif ).

The King of the Universe has given us commands in His Word. He is the Creator of all things. He is the Source of the very breath you breathe. He is Alpha and Omega. He more than deserves our respect and our awe. And His commands were inspired by His great love for you and for me.

But as for me, I will enter Your house through the abundance of Your steadfast love and mercy; I will worship toward and at Your holy temple in reverent fear and awe of You. (Psalm 5:7; Amplified)

I stand in awe of You.

3 thoughts on “The Fear of the LORD

  1. A furtherance of your picture…I heard a family counselor speak at MOPS some time ago. One of her therapies for young children was filial therapy; I had no idea what that even meant until now. Sadly enough, this therapy is done with small children in which the counselor gets out a box of toys and allows the child to “take control.” They lead and will often begin to play out feelings they cannot vocalize, including sadness, anger, etc. The counselor does whatever the child wants. Knowing the definition of that word, this is something the child should be able to receive at home, with own parents to share these emotions. God’s wisdom is infinite.

  2. I like this. I think you should write one next about how Jesus told us to be “perfect” in the Sermon on the Mount. I’ve often heard that what He really meant by “perfect” was “complete” or “mature,” and that again our language fails to really capture the true essence of the passage. This one, along with the “fear” parts, were very tough for me as a new Christian.

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