What is the fear of God? When should we love and when should we fear the Lord?
The phrase “fear of the Lord” or the fear of God has a wide range of meaning. One meaning is that we should be afraid to do evil since it can literally mean “to be afraid of the Lord.” The Hebrew word for “fear,” yare, means “to be fearful or afraid.” Proverbs 14:26 expresses it positively.
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil . . . Proverbs 8:13 (NASB)
Now then let the fear of the LORD be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness, or partiality, or the taking of a bribe. 2 Chronicles 19:7 (NASB)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences. 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 (NASB)
This is where we all started. We feared God because of our sin. When should we fear God? When we are in sin! The result of a holy walk with God is strong confidence, protection, and great spiritual depth.
In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and his children will have refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death. Proverbs 14:26-27 (NASB)
We should always fear God because the fear of God is to pursue holiness – to be like Him!
To Honor God
But a fuller meaning of “fear of the Lord” includes the idea of loving God, wanting to know Him and please Him. Here are several passages in the Old Testament.
The ‘fear of the Lord” includes getting wisdom and knowledge. There is only one place to get this – from the Word of Truth – the Bible.
The fear of the Lord will turn into a heart’s desire to know Him. This was the heart of Jesus towards God the Father.
And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And He will delight in the fear of the LORD . . . (NASB) Isaiah 11:2-3
We should always fear God and we should always love God (Matthew 22:37). The fear of the Lord leads us to the love of God. The fear of the Lord is where we all start. It brought us to Him and then it blooms into a wonderful flower of love, honor, and a desire to know Him personally.