The Old Testament speaks quite frequently about the fear of God, that we should fear him! Preachers regularly preach fiery sermons about the fear of the Lord and the wrath of GOD AND HIS PUNISHMENT. There is very little discussed about the love of God and even less that God likes all of us. Parents quite often use the fear of God to control their children. My question is, “How many references are there in the Old Testament about fearing the Lord and where are they?” And how does this balance out with the good news in the New Testament?
The phrase “fear of the Lord” occurs twenty-five times in the New American Standard Bible (NASB). The phrase occurs twenty-three times in the Old Testament and two times in the New Testament. The phrase first appears in 2 Chronicles 19:7 and then again two verses later. The other references are as follows: Job 28:28; Ps. 19:9; 34:11; 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 1:29; 2:5; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26-27; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; Isaiah 11:2-3; 33:6; Acts 9:31; and 2 Corinthians 5:11. The phrase “fear of the Lord” appears more times in the book of Proverbs than in any other book in the NASB.
Fear of the Lord
The word “fear” in the phrase “fear of the Lord” comes from the Hebrew word YIRAH (transliterated), and it means “to be terrified” (Jonah 1:10), “to be awe” (1 Kings 3:28), and “to have respect” (Lev. 19:3). The “fear of the Lord” is the reverence one would pay to a king because he is the majesty. But if one has offended the king and punishment is coming, that fear in the Hebrew is YARE. YARE is used in the phrase “fear the Lord” 31 times in the Old Testament. Therefore, when one sins, that person might fear God’s discipline (Deut. 10:20).
Proverbs says that the “fear of the Lord” – honor and respect for the Lord – is wisdom and it is the beginning of knowledge.
. . . Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom . . . (NASB) Job 28:28
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NASB) Prov. 1:7
The fear of the LORD prolongs life,
But the years of the wicked will be shortened. (NASB) Prov. 10:27
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,
That one may avoid the snares of death. (NASB) Prov. 14:27
The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD
Are riches, honor and life. (NASB) Prov. 22:4
One who honors and respects the Lord will live longer, and God will bless him/her with riches and honor. This does not mean that every person who is not poor has pleased God. But it does mean that God will provide more than the bare essentials of life.
God also loves us (John 3:16), and that is why He will discipline Christians when they continue sinning.
MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES. (NASB) Heb. 12:5-6
God wants us to be holy like Himself (1 Pet. 1:16), but some Christians want to continue living like non-Christians. It is an attitude problem.