The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Knowledge
There are many things that we fear in our lives. Have you ever tried to understand why you fear the things that you do?
My understanding has led me to believe that we come to fear things that we do not understand properly.
“Fear comes from the lack of knowledge and a state of ignorance. The best remedy for fear is to gain knowledge.” – Debasish Mridha
The word fear means an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm (noun); or to be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful (verb). [dictionary.com]
However, we will get a scriptural perspective as we take a closer look at the meaning of the word fear in the Holy Word of God.
Fear of the Lord
The word fear, or afraid appears many times in the bible, and we, unfortunately, do not have time to go through all of them, however, spending time on some pertinent scriptures will give us an understanding of what God means.
We require knowledge to remove fears, however, we also require knowledge to instill fear. We have heard the phrase “a burnt child dreads fire.” This comes from knowledge of a past experience that he or she has been burnt, and the knowledge that the flame or fire is hot and can cause harm. This instills newfound respect and fear for fire. Application of this new knowledge instills wisdom that the child will not put his or her hand in the fire again.
The key word in the Book of Proverbs is WISDOM.
2 To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding, Proverbs 1:2 (NKJV)
“Proverbs provides God’s detailed instructions for His people to deal successfully with the practical affairs of everyday life: how to relate to God, parents, children, neighbours, and government. Solomon, the principal author, uses a combination of poetry, parables, pithy questions, short stories, and wise maxims to give in strikingly memorable form the common sense and divine perspective necessary to handle life’s issues.” (Olive Tree – Introduction to Proverbs)
Having said that, before one can gain wisdom, knowledge must be attained.
7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)
Not having the proper knowledge of God means that we will not have the proper fear for God, however, what type of fear do the scriptures mean here?
This comes from the Hebrew meaning of the word (iyr’â) meaning the morally, reverential fear. This type of fear means that God deserves respect, reverence, piety, and deserves to be revered.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13 (NKJV)
The fear, in verse 12, is the Greek work, phobos, from the primary word, phebomai, (to be put in fear); i.e., to alarm or fright, or to be afraid.
Trembling is derived from the Greek word, tromos, meaning to quake with fear – used to describe the anxiety
The key message is that God is not to be taken lightly.
“Work out your own salvation” does not mean that you must do your own thing. The consideration is given to what God wants from us – with respect, fear, and trembling for God.
This also implies the reverential fear that we have for God, in that He is All-powerful, He is the Almighty and so if we love God, we must abide by His commands.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 (NKJV)
19 We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 (NKJV)
The fear of God is also based on the strong immense love that we have for God and He for us, His children.
Just like we fear our earthly fathers if we break a house rule, yet we still love them, and they will discipline us not because they hate us but because they love us.
Do not fear things that kill us
Jesus makes it clear that we are to fear God who can destroy the body and soul.
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 (NKJV)
The soul is eternal, and if we do not abide by God’s commandments to please God, then there is no way of escape. What good is it to fear man here on earth when this life is temporary, and yet we neglect our soul which has an eternal destination?
The word fear here is derived from the Greek word phobeō; meaning frighten, i.e., to be alarmed; by analogy, to be in awe of, i.e., revere.
The meaning of being alarmed means also starting to panic. When we panic, we do not act rationally.
God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure – This does not include panicking or being alarmed. If we know that we have a righteous relationship with God, then we also know the value of our souls over the temporary body. This comes with knowledge, studying, understanding, and faith, and love for God.
Does it mean that we should not live a healthy life? – Not at all!
Does it mean that we should take precautions if we are ill with any sickness not to spread it if contract it? – Not at all?
Common sense still needs to prevail.
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NKJV)
The word fear here is derived from the Greek word – deilia. This is the fear of timidity or cowardice. In this instance, the word fear used here is not to be timid, or a coward, but to be bold with the power of the word that we have.
We are to fear God, but we are also to love God. And when we love God, fear has a different meaning.
Pairing this with having a sound mind, means that the things that I do, I need to be sober-minded. My approach to situations, how I react to people, and so forth.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NKJV)
But we must also apply wisdom, understanding. Rightly dividing the word of truth.
8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober minded, just, holy, self-controlled, Titus 1:8 (NKJV)
When we panic, we are not in control, and hence, according to scripture, and we are not sober-minded. When we fear in the wrong way, then we are not rational, and hence not sober-minded.
Understand who God is, understand His power:
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth! Psalms 46:10 (NKJV)
No fear in love
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 (NKJV)
The difference here is that we do God’s command because we love Him, and not because we are forced to do His commandments out of fear. That is the beauty of love since love casts out fear.
My five-year-old son will do what I ask of him because he loves me, not because he fears me. It’s the same with our heavenly Father. How He wants us all to come to love Him as He loves us.
God is with us
10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
Do not fear, when you have come to accept the Lord, as He is with us. He will not turn away from us, provided we do not turn away from him.
3 Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
4 In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me? Psalms 56:3-4 (NKJV)
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)
Take comfort that we serve an all-powerful almighty God. He is an awesome God, and He has done wonderful things for us. He loves us so much that He has sacrificed His Son on the cross for the sins of all mankind.
Let us come to know Him by reading and studying the bible and doing what he wants of us.
The lack of knowledge leads to fear and the more we learn and understand the less we will fear and the more we will love God. We will learn not to panic and be sober-minded, and we will accept that God is in control of everything.