In the past forty years I have probably read Proverbs 3:7 at least a thousand times but it never struck me like it did just the other day when I read it again.
ďDo not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.Ē
I finally asked myself; what does it mean to fear the Lord? Does God really want us to be afraid of Him? So I began a study on those three words, fear the Lord. Did you know that phrase is used in the bible several hundred times? That would make it pretty important, donít you think?
I am not a bible scholar; nor am I a linguist. I have never studied Hebrew or Greek (those are the two main languages in which the bible is written). But, I do own a Strongís Concordance with Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek dictionaries. So, along with my bible, my Strongís, and a copy of the book The Two Fears by Chris Poblete, I began a study and I discovered there are two kinds of fear.
There is a good kind of fear and a bad kind of fear. For instance, in First Chronicles 14:17 it says; ďSo Davidís fame spread throughout every land, and the Lord made all the nations fear him.Ē The word in the Hebrew language used for fear means a ďgreat terrorĒ. These people didnít fear David as much as they feared Davidís God. The only reason they feared David was because they knew Davidís God was protecting him. That kind of fear is used many times in the Old Testament and it always refers to Godís enemies.
I donít care if youíre atheist, agnostic, or whatever, I believe that you know, way down deep in your heart, that when you die, you will have to meet God. And that scares you. Thatís a terrible way to have to go through life.
But I, on the other hand, and all true believers, are anxious to be with God. I know that when I go before God, I will not be able to look at Him. I will probably bow before Him with my head down. But that is out of respect, not terror. And that is the other fear. Itís the kind of fear that Peter talks about in First Peter 2:17 when he says, ďShow proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the King.Ē
The word that Peter uses for fear in the Greek language is translated as meaning reverence. So, also does the word in Proverbs 3:7. Itís a reverent fear.
As Iím writing this, Iím recalling a song of praise I learned at a bible camp years ago.
My God is an awesome God
He reigns from heaven above
With mercy, grace and love,
My God is an awesome God.
And that is the kind of fear Iím talking about as a born-again child of God. Itís an awesome fear; an inability to stand before an awesome God; a loving God and a forgiving God; when you know that your sins helped put His Son through that terrible death on a cross.
God is so full of love and mercy and grace that He allowed the crucifixion of Christ, His only Son, so that we could be free from all the nasty things weíve done in our lives. So how can I possibly stand and face Him? How can I, a sinner, stand before such love, such goodness, such holiness?
David said, ďMy sins are always before me.Ē And itís true, I suppose, for every born-again man or woman. I know it is for me. When Iím bowing my head in prayer before God, I know who and what I am, and what I was before I met Godís grace in Jesus Christ. I will always know what I was before. Iíve been forgiven, but I have not forgotten. And that is why I cannot lift my head or open my eyes in His presence. When I pray to God, I am drawing near to Him and He is drawing near to me, and itís a fearful thing.
Revere Him; stand in awe of Him: that is the meaning of the phrase, Fear the Lord. Amen