6 The fear of the Lord is His treasure. Isaiah 33:6 NKJV
King Solomon reigned at the peak of Israel’s Old Testament glory, and during this time wrote many wise sayings under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. His Book of Proverbs begins with a key concept: the fear of God is the foundation of a joyful and successful life.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge… Proverbs 1:7 NKJV
The Prophet Isaiah concurs, calling the fear of the Lord a treasure, yet a few chapters later, he comforts Israel, telling them NOT to fear.
1 But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1 NKJV
What is the meaning of this apparent contradiction? Should we fear God or not?
I believe the answer is no and yes. It all depends upon the definition of the word. Two definitions from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary are shown here:
1: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.
2: profound reverence and awe especially toward God.
Solomon and Isaiah are both using the second definition of fear. It is a belief in God’s existence and power and a recognition of His many divine blessings towards us. We show God a reverent fear by receiving these blessings with a sense of gratitude and deep respect.
When we approach God on His terms, we have no reason to fear Him using the first definition. He has already provided an atonement to believers for all our sins and shortcomings through the death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Christ has torn down the wall separating Jews and Gentiles and extends the promised blessings of Abraham to all His believers.
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:13-14 NKJV
We now not only have the right to boldly approach His throne, but He eagerly yearns for us to do so. He wants us to bring to Him all of our needs and the needs of those around us.
One believer I know describes his fear of the Lord this way:
“I knew that my father loved me and all of our family very much. He sacrificed for us and would provide us with everything we needed and a lot of what we wanted. But he was strict. I did not often defy him or actively oppose his will – I respected him. That is how I understand the concept of the fear of the Lord.”
Others of us may not have been blessed with such a loving relationship with a parent. They may have been deceased or absent, perhaps even off chasing their own idols. We may need to look to some other good role model in our life to help us relate to God.
The fear of the Lord is a very positive and comforting feeling, action or attitude that comes out of a deep respect for Him and an appreciation for how much He really does love us. It forms the basis of our humble reliance upon Him. His presence and blessings support and sustain us, and keep us safe with Him throughout eternity.
7 God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him. Psalm 67:7 NKJV
God deeply loves us and wants us to seek Him and to boldly approach His throne in prayer. Someone has said, “if we only pray when we are in trouble, we are going to get in a lot of trouble, because God loves to hear from us.”
Do you have the other kind of fear in your life? Many of us do or have had. It can be a very negative, crippling and overwhelming emotion, often coming without warning or obvious cause.
God wants us to bring this negative fear to Him – He will make a way for us to shed its power over us. This may take time and will often involve us walking right into and through a fearful situation. But with God’s loving help, we will eventually come out the other side of fear in freedom and victory.