Fear of the Lord

Posted on June 27, 2017 by Andy Honeycutt in Article from The Messenger

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. Psalm 19:9


     Before that verse there are praises for God’s word. It is perfect, sure, right, and pure. If you follow Torah, your soul, mind, and heart will be blessed. But then verse nine takes a different path: “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever.”

     I struggled with this verse for some time. When I think of clean, I think of forgiveness of sins and not feeling guilty. King David asked the Lord to “wash me…cleanse me from my sin” (Ps. 51:2). He was feeling guilty when he wrote that! How does following Torah bring about cleansing?

     This verse is not about God’s word. The fear of the Lord is not something you can just read about and then do. Fearing God has to do with reverence, holding in high esteem, and respect. But it also means you understand that God has the power to destroy you.

     This fear is displayed in how the priests approached the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle/temple. Rules and directions had to be followed or else the Lord’s anger would burn against that person and they would be consumed.

     Philip Yancey writes about fearing the Lord in The NIV Student Bible. He compares the special rules and requirements for approaching the Lord with the rules and requirements for handling radioactive material at a power plant. The nuclear power plant worker knows that if he doesn’t prepare properly, he will be killed. He respects, even fears, that power.

     This is a healthy perspective of God. There were many rules to worship God correctly in the temple. The outside rules helped the inside heart/mind which then showed on the outside. Fearing the Lord is an attitude not a rule. But like the outward ritual cleansing, our inward attitude prepares us to approach the Lord. And this attitude endures forever.

     Rules are helpful but our relationship with God was never about rules. It was always about attitude. Jesus said not to fear people that could kill the body but not the soul. Instead, we should fear the One who can throw us into hell. (Luke 12:5) That attitude endures forever.

     When you pray, I hope you have reverence for the Lord. When we come together to worship, I hope you have the fear of the Lord. He is generous and loving but he is also Judge and Lord.