Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.
All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
Praise him forever! (NLT)
We rightly think of fear as something to be overcome, to be avoided. Fear is not good. The most common command in the Bible is Fear not. So why is it that we are also commanded to fear God?
We have to understand that there are two meanings of ‘fear’. One is to be afraid of some terrible threat. I might fear cancer or accident or unemployment. This is the sort of fear we are to battle with the help of God.
The other sort of ‘fear’ is what is mentioned in our text: the fear of God. It cannot mean that we are scared of God as if he is out to hurt us. It rather means a sort of reverence and respect. We hold him in awe. We don’t trivialise him. True, God is our dearest Father, but he is also a mighty and holy God. We enjoy closeness to him but also realise such closeness is only possibly by our trusting Jesus to give us access to God.
Seeing God as he really is, utterly awesome and perfect, utterly gracious and loving, allows us to see life as it really is. Getting God right is the key to getting everything else right. He is neither merely our cosmic drinking buddy nor an angry deity itching to hurl thunderbolts in our direction.
We are to fear God and yet not be afraid of him.