“What does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deut.10:12.
Such strong, robust, heart-warming words could never give the impression that “the fear of the Lord” was terrifying. Let’s see what some O.T. writers said about the “fear of the Lord”.
The secret of the LORD is with those who fear him. Psalm 25:14
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him. Psalm 33:18
The angel of the LORD encamps round about those who fear him. Psalm 34:7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Psalm 111:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Prov. 1:7
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil. Prov. 8:13
In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence. Prov. 14:26
The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life. Prov. 14:27
The Hebrew word for “fear” contains the thought of “trembling”. But it is best to think of this trembling as one might tremble in the presence of some august person, say the Queen, or a President. There is nothing terrifying in that. Or shall we say, there shouldn’t be!
This type of fear invokes deference, respect and reverence for the One who is higher than Queen, or President. We need to have the “fear of the Lord”, and must not treat Him as a “pal”. We need to “hallow His name”. And all those who fear the Lord will have all the benefits listed above from the Psalms and Proverbs.
But there is a tormenting fear from which the Lord delivers His people, and the following N.T. verses declare this truth.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He who fears is not made perfect in love. 1John 4:18
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2Ti 1:7
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Heb 2:15
There is no contradiction between the O.T. verses and those in the N.T. This tormenting type of fear is experienced by some of God’s children, but all such should lay hold of the N.T. verses and claim God’s promise to cast it out, and put in its place a warm loving sense of His presence which generates love, joy and peace . One may then call Him “Abba, Father”, and come to know His tender presence, compassion, and knowledge of His lovingkindness to all His children. What a wonderful God we have!