There are many themes in the Scriptures that address our daily desires, thoughts, actions, and attitudes. Perhaps one of the most pervasive of such themes in all of Scripture is the concept of the “Fear of the Lord.” The “Fear of the Lord” is not so common in our vernacular (even as Christians!) any more, but there is certainly no Biblical warrant for the disappearance of the “Fear of the Lord” concept in our Christian interactions with each other and society. The “Fear of the Lord” dominates the Scriptures from beginning to end.
In Genesis, Abraham referred to a pagan nation as a nation “with no fear of God at all in this place”. In Exodus and Deuteronomy, God’s people are commanded explicitly to “Fear the LORD your God.” In the Historical books, the Fear of the LORD characterised the people who recognised God’s works on behalf of his people. The wisdom books are perhaps best-known for the fear of the LORD concept. In them the Fear of the LORD characterises those who loved the Word, had their sins forgiven and walked in holiness before God and man. In the prophets, we see the nation judged for not fearing the Lord and blessing promised for those who do fear the LORD. In the Gospels, Mary sings of God’s mercy to those who fear the LORD, and Jesus teaches his disciples to fear God and not man. In Acts we see how God accepts those who fear the LORD and in the letters of the Apostles we see that the fear of the LORD distinguishes those who believe from those who do not. And lastly, the book of Revelation concludes this theme by showing how one day all men will fear the LORD. The Fear of the LORD permeates Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
It is commanded to kings and peasants and everyone in between. It is required for corporate worship and essential for personal holiness. And yet, the fear of the Lord is one of the most difficult to describe concepts in all of Scripture. It falls in the category of words and phrases like “worship,” “righteousness,” “the LORD’s ways,” “wisdom,” “godly,” and “life.” These words are difficult to define with only one word or a brief sentence. In some contexts, the fear of the LORD and “wisdom” are synonymous. In other passages, the fear of the LORD is what “the way of the LORD” looks like for human beings. In much of the Old Testament, the “fear of the LORD” was simply a phrase that meant being “godly” and other times it conveyed more the idea of true “worship”, or more personally, the whole concept of “faith.”
Walter Kaiser defines the word broadly as “a believer’s wholehearted response to his Lord.” I like that definition. It includes, faith, obedience, and worship – all applied to the whole of your being. The more we learn about the fear of the LORD, the more attractive it becomes and the more we wish that we could get hold of it, keep it, and benefit from it.
Put all the above into one shorted sentence and you get the definition of :
The “Fear of the LORD” is “Our wholehearted, unreserved subjection to God in all of His attributes.”
This definition refines your worship by widening your understanding of God to all His attributes.
This definition deepens faith by affecting our whole heart.
This definition commands your obedience with unreserved subjection to God.
Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!