Everyone agrees to the truth of this statement, but unpacking it is sometimes a little difficult. What is this “fear of the Lord”, and isn’t it counter to living with God in love and acceptance? Not at all.
The first time the idea of fearing the Lord appears in Scripture in explicit terms is in (of all places) Exodus 9. And it is used in a unique setting. It is spoken of as the response of some Egyptians, who upon hearing Moses’ pronouncement that the 7th plague of hail was about to be poured out. The text reads: Exodus 9:20 (ESV) “Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses.”
And if you think back to Genesis 3 and the Fall – although your do not see the words explicitly stated, the principle is there. In fact, this is the very seed from which all sin springs – failure to fear the Lord, to fear His Word.
And what exactly is meant by that? In the final analysis, to fear the Lord is simply to take Him seriously, so that His Word to us is of the highest and utmost importance. Whatever else we may think or feel – His opinion, His view, His warnings, His pronouncements regarding what is good, and what is ill and dangerous – we heed. Above all.
Things are, as God says they are. Reality is what He declares it to be. Sin is what He says is sin and good is only what He says is good. It is when we lose this central “fear” – so that anything He says can be taken lightly, modified, twisted, is optional or can even be downright contradicted – that everything comes apart at the seams.
This is what it means to fear Him. Do you? Does God have your ear?