The most common command in all of Scripture is “do not fear.” Psalm 112 is a juxtaposition of fear.
Praise the Lord.Psalm 112:1 NIV
Blessed are those who fear the LORD,
who find great delight in his commands.
What does it mean to fear the LORD, especially when we’re commanded so often to not fear? Are we supposed to cower, afraid that this all powerful God is just waiting to smite us? Perhaps if we are enemies of God this is an appropriate “fear,” but not for those who love him and have committed their lives to him.
One of the definitions of this word is “to stand in awe of, reverence, honor…” The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Ps. 111:10), and it’s the end of all other fear. As John reminds us God is love (1 Jn 4:8), and perfect love drives out all fear (1 Jn 4:18).
If we are right before God we will not be fearful of our lives before him, but we will stand in awe and reverence before him knowing full we we are not deserving. Proper “fear” before Yahweh will lead to caring for the poor and seeking justice (Ps. 112:5, 9). Proper “fear” of Yahweh leads us to fear nothing else! (v. 6-8). To “fear the LORD” is to love him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mk. 12:29-31).
I have known far too many Christians that face the end of life terrified of the end for fear of what God might do. This is not the “fear” we are called to. We are to live boldly in the grace we have received, and fearlessly serve our Lord in the midst of a world that hates him. The fear of the LORD drives out all fear. The fear of the LORD enables us to do what we cannot do on our own.
If you are a child or God, washed in the blood of Jesus, you have no reason to be terrified. But you are called to fear the LORD!