Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Fear of the Lord

Today's Reading: Job 28-29; Acts 13: 1-25

Ok peep these verses from Job 28:

 12 "But where can wisdom be found?
       Where does understanding dwell?
 13 Man does not comprehend its worth;
       it cannot be found in the land of the living.

Yeah I feel you Job… where is this wisdom at? Where can it be found… But then later on he says the following:

 23 God understands the way to it
       and he alone knows where it dwells,

 28 And he said to man,
       'The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
       and to shun evil is understanding.' "

What is this “fear of the Lord” stuff? What the heck does that mean?

That is something that bothered me my entire life. It didn’t seem to make sense. I thought I was supposed to love God and that God had my back and such things. Why am I supposed to fear Him?

This comes up a lot in the Bible, especially in proverbs. I won’t claim to have complete understanding of this topic… but here is where I’m at with it now.

When I was about five years old I learned how to ride my bike.

That’s right… without training wheels baby! Don’t hate….

My dad and my stepmom used to take me and my sister out riding after school. It was a family thing we did together. We used to ride to the park and all kinds of far distances for my little five year old world.

But when he wasn’t riding with us he told me that I couldn’t ride in the street.

Say what!? Didn’t he know that I’m a bike riding professional? Lance Armstrong didn’t have nothin’ on me! Why couldn’t I ride in the street?

Now when I was three my older sister got hit by a car when riding her bike and broke her leg. So of course besides the common sense rule of not letting a five year old ride in the street there was also that fact to contend with.

But in my mind… shooooot, that wasn’t gonna happen to me! I was indestructible anyway. It’s all good.

So I decided to test him… I rode down the sidewalk between two houses and when I got to the driveway of the bottom house I circled back up to the next drive way in the street. Hey I wasn’t in the street long. It’s all good right?


Yep I got punished for that one.

But the key point was that I didn’t have sense enough on my own to know what was and was not dangerous for me. So Pops had to lay down rules for me to follow. Until I was about eight the main thing that kept me in line was the respect I had for my dad and knowing that he played no games when I crossed the line.

It was not my own understanding.

I never feared my Dad at all. Quite the contrary… I just knew that there were certain rules that he had and that I had to follow them.

I wonder if that’s where the “fear of God” comes in. Maybe a lot of these rules and guidelines that we don’t agree with or don’t understand are really in our best interest. Maybe they will protect us from things that we cannot see and cannot possibly understand.

Who knows? That’s all I’ve got for now.

What do you think it means to “fear the Lord”? Do you agree or disagree with your understanding of it?


  1. Funny how people say "Fear the Lord" or "He's a jealous God". God is infinitly forgiving. We do need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. The farther we stray from Godliness the harder it is create Goodness. We do have 10 Great Commandments to guide us. Since God created us without limiting our free will, we only have ourselves to be afraid of.


  2. Honestly, I had a fear of my Mom. She never did anything but speak sternly and "pop" my legs. But it just seemed as if there was a wrath in her she had kindly not unleashed. And my acting not to far from her expectation is what kept that wrath at bay.

    God on the other hand, gives me rainbows after a rain, beautifully sunny days, great snow, trees, so many simple pleasures never denied to me no matter how my actions seem to be. So I don't have the same fear of God as I do my Mom. :-)

    Both though gave me guidelines that helped (help) me interact best with them. In every relationship these rules should be clarified. They both did me a favor, I didn't have to figure out these guidelines through trial and error. What is there to be bothered about by this?

  3. For me, the "fear of the God" definition is determined by how he's described in the Bible, a loving father/parent figure. So, in one sense, it means that we respect his authority: Power enough to produce consequences for our actions or failures to act. For example, I was never afraid of my Mom, but I would often do or not do something to avoid a whoopin, discipline. I was never afraid of any of my teachers, but I knew that if I was late for class they had authority for which there would be consequences. etc.

    In addition, when we "Fear" something we feel that it has power to harm us in some way, physically, emotionally, or mentally. However, if God is omnipotent (all-powerful), then when we have a fear of anything but His power, we allow the object of our fear to usurp God's role. God is either all powerful or not, no other entity can share it, not even our fears. Therefore, when we recognize God as the ONLY thing we fear, we knock down all our other fears from their position of power over us. Rendering our other fears powerless, we then can become fearless and as a result, to Fear God is to actually be fearless. As 1 John says There is no love in fear but Perfect love casts out fear.

    One might then ask if perfect love casts out fear, then why would we fear God? My response would be: the fear of God is one of a kind, because it is the only kind that casts out all our other fears....are there philosophical holes in my definition? Maybe, but hey it's just my opinion.

  4. @Kofi "to Fear God is to actually be fearless." You took us on a pretty fascinating journey to get there... I'm still chewing on that food.

    I wonder based on your admission of the contradiction of love casting out fear vs a fear of God if the praise "The Fear of God" is somehow poorly translated. Like in portuguese there is this word "jeito". The literal translation would be "the way" as in the way someone is... but it's actual meaning has to do with the way someone is spiritually, physically mentally... their entire being... When you speak of someone's jeito you are speaking of their entire essence.

    We don't have a word for jeito... I wouldn't be surprised if the word "fear" from this context doesn't fully articulate what the original word really means.

    Fear seems to have entirely too many uses and definitions in the bible.

    Fun to think about.

  5. I actually do not believe that the love casting out fear thing is a contradiction. I'm just saying it's a valid counterargument. The fearlessness from the fear of God thing to me is a paradox and 1John are paradoxical statements instead of contradictory. I do agree that the word itself has way too many definitions and I also agree that the original translation might shed some light on what they are really getting at. I also feel that it might not be the word itself that is the problem, it could be as most things are in life, humans fault. We live in a society where we tout independence and being a master of our own destiny, when in reality we are all co-dependent on God and largely slaves to sin of our own doing. Maybe its just an issue with human perspective.

  6. Well if it isn't an issue of semantics then it has to be a contradiction of terms at least... But i agree that the spirit of the message does not contact contradiction at all... paradox yes but not contradiction. To that I agree 100%.

    You make a good point about the human perspective part of it... I almost went off on a long tangent about the philosophically problematic nature of positioning self at the center of one's world... but that's for another time and another post.

  7. C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves. Dig it.

  8. @Alegria Have you read it? I just finished. What an incredible mind that man had... wow.

  9. Hey, Clarence. It's so good to hear from you after so long. To me the fear of God has many sides. In a sense, there is an actual fear that keeps us from deliberately disobeying Him. We know that if we do that He will have to discipline us in some way, and we don't want to find out what that discipline will be. It's not an obsessive fear, but it's a deterrent one. It comes in handy when I have thoughts of going back to old habits or developing new ones. I know I could back to some habits I've had in the past that are against God's way, but I really don't want to because I love God and because I honestly don't want to go around that mountain again. That's one aspect of my 'fear' of Him.


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