What does it actually mean to “Fear God”?

If you’re like me, you probably wondered or are wondering what it really means to fear God. Are we to be afraid of Him? Are we to respect Him? Fearing God is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible. In this blog post, I will review what the Bible says about fearing God and hopefully dispel some myths and misconceptions about what fearing God means. I will be using the KJV Bible and- when needed- a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

First and foremost, fearing God means to be in awe of, have respect for, and revere Him. Psalms 33:8 says, “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.” Similarly, Hebrews 12:28 says, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:” These passages don’t tell us to be afraid. They are telling us God is deserving of respect and reverence for what He has done for us, and what His plans for our future is.  One way to think of this is how we fear our parents or other adult figures. Well, good parents, anyways. They are there for us, they have provided for us, we should respect them and give thanks for all they have done. We should not be afraid to go to them with our problems. God is our Heavenly Father, not our dictator.

Fearing God directly relates to wisdom and understanding. Psalms 111:10 tells us, “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.” Proverbs 1:7 reiterates, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Again, in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” One more time in Proverbs 15:33, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” And lastly in Job 28:28 “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” These are just a handful of verses demonstrating that fearing God is the basis of wisdom and understanding. Once you start fearing God, He will impart to you the wisdom of the Scriptures and what He has planned for you. And He will start giving you understanding about why things sometimes happen, and how they happen. Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be all at once, but it will come when you are ready for it and can handle the information.

It took Solomon his whole life to crack the code to life. He says in Ecclesiastes 12:13 after telling of all the work he did in his life, and what matters in the end, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” Moses tells the Israelites when they came out of Egypt in Deuteronomy 10:12-13, “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?” We are told to do this for OUR good, not just because. Jesus himself tells us what the greatest commandment is in three places: Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34, and Luke 10:27. “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Don’t make the same mistakes Solomon did and wander through life looking for satisfaction. Just fear God, and love Him, and He will keep you. Learn from Solomon.

Proverbs tells us a lot about how fearing God with add time to your life, but not fearing God will take it away. 10:27 says, “The fear of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.” While 14:27 states, “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” 19:23 adds, “The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.” Not talking exclusively about our earthly days, but fearing God will lead to eternal life, and not one of eternal damnation. Fearing God solidifies our place in Heaven beside Him, where we will bathe in His Glory forevermore.

Fearing God is not to be confused with our earthly fears (snakes, spiders, being afraid to do something, etc.). We can be afraid of those things, but following God will assuage those fears to a degree, as well. Adam and Eve were afraid of God, because they disobeyed Him. They were not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But they did. Genesis 3:8-10, “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” They now knew that they were naked. Knew the difference between good and evil. But they were afraid of what God might do now that their eyes were opened. Moses was afraid of what God might do to the children of Israel after they escaped Egypt and worshipped idols made of gold- not God- while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy 9:18-20, “And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the Lord was wroth against you to destroy you. But the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also. And the Lord was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.” God was angry, and Moses was afraid, but prayed for the children of Israel, and God turned His anger away.

Fearing God will not make your life free of all the bad things we experience, but it will make it easier to fend off the evil that comes our way. Fearing God is the first step to a better life, a better future. No, it won’t be all sunshine and roses, but the final reward will be worth so much more than anything this world has to offer. I hope you found this piece informative and that you better understand what the fear of God actually is.

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