Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Fear of the Lord

By Ron Bartanen


    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).

    If memory serves me correctly, I learned in school that there are only two innate fears—fears with us from birth—and these are the fear of falling and the fear of loud, sudden noises. However, as we experience life, more fears accumulate.  We find ourselves beset with fears relative to our health, our financial state, threats of terrorism, and even what are perceived to be unwise decisions by officials in government.  It was not Solomon’s intention to add yet another fear to the growing list when he wrote the words at the head of this article. Rather, it is to be viewed as a reverential fear, an acknowledgement of the majesty and power of our Creator, in whose presence we stand in awe.  It is this “fear” that will drive away all other fears.  It is related to the love of which John wrote—a love that “casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18).  The “fear of the Lord” is a reverential trust that will drive other fears out of our lives.

    The most fearful situation in life is to find ourselves going our own way, without God’s fellowship.  It may not be in the way of outright rebellion against all that is righteous, living a life of wantonness and drunkenness.  It may simply be to live life without acknowledgment of God.  We may live our lives without ever getting cancer or heart problems and we may live our lives so that we are financially successful; but to live our lives with the seeming absence of God is more fearful than the worst of physical or material calamities.

    And what is to be gained by an awesome respect for God, His word and His judgment? Much in every way! The fear of God enables us to face life and all its fears, and even death itself, with a confidence that is unshakeable.  Hebrews 2:15 reminds us that while we were once in bondage to fear—in particular the fear of death—Christ came to deliver us.  It is as someone once said: “There is much in the world to make us afraid.  There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.”         

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. He may be contacted at:

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