Fear of the Lord

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring stand in awe of the Lord, all you offspring of Israel.” [Psalm 22:23]

Throughout scripture we are told again and again to “fear the Lord,” as we are in this verse of Psalm 22. Yet, in 1 John 4:18 we read, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment.” Holding the psalmist’s words and John’s words in tension gives us a fuller understanding of what the phrase “fear of the Lord” actually means. Reformer Martin Luther added this helpful understanding saying “fear” means having a tremendous respect and love for one who is dearly loved. If we dearly love God, then we don’t “fear” because we “fear” punishment, but we “fear” because we fear offending or disappointing God. I can relate to this understanding because I loved my parents dearly and my decisions as a foreign exchange student in a difficult family setting were guided by my deep love and respect for my parents. I didn’t want to do anything that would disappoint them.  For me “fear of the Lord” is deep respect, awe and reverence for God, along with my deep desire to please God by the way in which I live.  How do you understand the fear of the Lord?


Sovereign God, you alone are holy. I come before you this day with deep reverence. I am awe of your steadfast love and mercy for humanity. I pray that my life brings you joy and not disappointment. Give me the courage and strength to walk in your ways. I give thanks and praise to your holy name. Amen.

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