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The Peace That Accompanies the Fear of the Lord

By Rich Carmicheal

    Throughout the Bible we are admonished to fear the Lord. For example, Moses declares, "And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord…" (Deuteronomy 10:12). The Psalmist writes, "Fear the Lord, you His saints…" (Psalm 34:9). Solomon states that the conclusion of the matter is this: "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The Apostle Peter exhorts Christians to "…live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear" (1 Peter 1:17).

    The Bible also gives us numerous examples of people who feared the Lord. Abraham demonstrated his fear of the Lord by not withholding his only son (Genesis 22:12). Job is described as a man who feared God (Job 1:1). Noah "in holy fear built an ark to save his family" (Hebrews 11:7). Hananiah is praised as a man who feared God more than most men do (Nehemiah 7:2). Hezekiah is admired as one who feared the Lord and sought His favor (Jeremiah 26:19). The Hebrew midwives, because of their fear of God, spared the lives of the newborn boys (Exodus 1:17). Proverbs 31:30 teaches that "a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." In the Book of Acts, Luke points out that the church lived in the fear of the Lord (9:31). He also makes special note of God-fearing Gentiles (Acts 10:2; 13:26; 17:4,17).

    Unfortunately, many people understand the fear of the Lord only in the sense of fearing His wrath and punishment. While the reality of God’s wrath is certainly just cause to fear Him (e.g., see Luke 12:5), the biblical concept of the fear of the Lord is much less about fearing punishment, and much more about living a godly life in reverent awe of the Living God. This reverent awe does not cause us to be terrified of the Lord, but rather, causes us to draw near to Him and to embrace His ways. Moses describes this kind of fear in Deuteronomy 10:12-13: "And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees..."

    The positive aspect to fearing the Lord is apparent in light of the many benefits associated with it. For example, consider some of the things the Lord does for those who fear Him: He blesses them (Psalm 115:13; 128:1-6); He confides in them (Psalm 25:14); He listens to them (Malachi 3:16); He has compassion on them (Psalm 103:13); He provides food for them (Psalm 111:5); He fulfulls their desires (Psalm 145:19); He delights in them (Psalm 147:11); His eyes are on them (Psalm 33:18); and His angel encamps around them (Psalm 34:7). Those who fear the Lord prosper (Deuteronomy 6:24); enjoy long life (Deuteronomy 6:2); gain wisdom (Proverbs 15:33); and lack nothing (Psalm 34:9). According to the Book of Proverbs, the fear of the Lord is "a fountain of life" (14:27) and "the beginning of knowledge" (1:7).

    Another benefit of living in the fear of the Lord is somewhat paradoxical. The more we live in the fear of the Lord, the less we will have to fear. In other words, as our relationship with the Lord deepens, our fears diminish. Consider, for example, the Psalmist’s words: "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord...he will have no fear of bad news...his heart is secure, he will have no fear..." (Psalm 112:1,7-8). The paradox is this: the fear of the Lord results in peace from the Lord. As we live in the fear of the Lord, we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him and we learn to trust Him and rely upon Him to help us in any and every situation.

    Are you currently confronted by any fears? If so, I want to encourage you to focus your attention upon the Lord. Renew your commitment to Him and to His ways. Repent of any sin in your life ("To fear the Lord is to hate evil" –Proverbs 8:13). Embrace His Word and walk in obedience to all that He commands. Seek the Lord with all of your heart. Dwell upon His holiness and majesty. Admire the marvelous works of His hands. Devote yourself to Him in all things and learn to trust Him completely. As you draw near to Him in reverent awe, He will grant you His peace.

    "The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness. He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure" (Isaiah 33:5-6).

    "The fear of the Lord leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble" (Proverbs 19:23).

    "The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1).