The Fear of the Lord

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“But what is this fear of the Lord? It is that affectionate reverence, by which the child of God binds himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law. His wrath is so bitter, and his love so sweet; that hence springs an earnest desire to please him, and–because of the danger of coming short from his own weaknesses and temptations–a holy watchfulness and fear, ‘that he might not sin against him’ (Hebrews 12:28-29). This enters into every exercise of the mind, every object of life. ([Proverbs] Chapter 23.17). The oldest proficient in the Divine school seeks a more complete moulding into its spirit. The godly parent trains up his family under its influence (Genesis 17:19, Ephesians 6:4). The Christ scholar honors it as the beginning, the head, of all his knowledge; at once sanctifying its end, and preserving him from its most subtle temptations.

“Why then do multitudes around us despise wisdom and instruction? Because the beginning of wisdom–“the fear of the God–is not before their eyes” (Psalm 36:1). They know not its value. They scorn its obligation. Wise they may be in their own sight. But surely God here gives them their right name. For fools they must be to despise such a blessing (Jeremiah 8:9); to rush into willful ruin (verses 22, 24-32). Comp. I Samuel 2:25, I Kings 12:13, Jeremiah 36:22-32); to treasure up work for despairing repentance (Chap. 5:12, 13; 29:1).

“Good Lord! May thy childlike fear be my wisdom, my security, my happiness!

~Charles Bridges, Commentary on Proverbs

I was going through some papers and came across this quote I’d printed out a few years ago. I wanted to post it here so I could toss the paper. I think it’s a good description of what it means to fear God, but I still don’t understand it, at least not very deeply. Having not had a good picture of God’s fatherhood in my father, I don’t have a heart-deep understanding of God’s fatherhood, and therefore definitions based on His fatherhood, accurate though they may be, don’t really give me enough to go on. There’s a sort of fear that perfect love casts out (1 John 4:18), and that fear I know all too well (the casting out of it, less so). But an understanding of the good kind of fear continues to elude me. And I’m sure that, as a sad result, proficiency in the actual practice of such fear continues to elude me. So it’s one of those topics I come back to now and again to poke and prod, to ponder and pray, in hopes that I’ll someday have an Aha! moment that makes it come clear.

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