THE FEAR OF THE LORD
Ecclesiastes 12: 13 -- Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
We were designed by God to respect Him and to keep Godís commandments. This verse near the end of Ecclesiastes contains a great truth, but many do not understand it. The word 'fear' is a stumbling block to many Christians. We must realize that in the King James Version of the Bible, the word translated as 'fear' in this verse does not mean to be afraid of God. It means to reverence or venerate, or in simpler terms, to regard someone or something with awe and respect. Another word to watch out for in this verse is 'duty'. It is in italics, which means it was a word added by the translators. A current translation of this verse could be:
"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Have awe and respect for God, and keep His Word, for this is the whole of man(the reason he was made)."
Now we see the true meaning of the verse. God made us, in fact He designed us, so that we operate to the best of our ability when we regard Him with awe and respect and follow His Word. If we do not do this, we are less than whole. There are a great many benefits to us if we have 'the fear of the Lord', and we will look at some of them now.
Proverbs 15: 16 -- Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.
It is better to have few possessions with awe and respect for God, than to have a great many possessions and to have trouble and problems because of them. We do not need to store up earthly treasures, because God is our sufficiency. Wealth often causes trouble and lack of peace for those that have it.
The fear of the Lord is also noted as 'the beginning of wisdom' for believers:
Psalm 111: 10 -- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
Proverbs 9: 10 -- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
Having awe and respect for the Lord is a start to acquire wisdom. To truly be wise, we have to take it further by studying the Word and walking by the spirit.
Proverbs 1: 7 -- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Psalm 25: 12 -- What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.
If we have awe and respect for God, He will teach us so we make the best decisions in our lives. We have seen that we gain knowledge and wisdom from the fear of the Lord. What other things may happen?
Proverbs 16: 6 -- By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear[respect] of the Lord men depart from evil.
We aren't 'good' because we are afraid of God, but because we love and respect Him. The result is that we receive many blessings from the Lord.
Psalm 115: 13 -- He will bless them that fear[respect] the Lord, both small and great.
Psalm 128: 1 -- Blessed is every one that feareth [respects] the Lord; that walketh in his ways.
Next we will look at some of these 'blessings' that result from the fear [respect] of the Lord:
1. We are clean.
Psalm 19: 9 -- The fear[respect] of the Lord is clean [cleansing], enduring for ever: the judgements of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
The 'fear [respect] of the Lord' has a continuous cleansing action in our life.
2. We have trust and confidence in God.
Proverbs 14: 26 -- In the fear[respect] of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
If we always trust in God, our families will have a place of refuge because we regard Him with awe and respect.
3. God is merciful and tender towards us.
Psalm 103: 11, 12, 13 -- For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward[upon] them that fear [respect] him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth [is tender towards] his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear [respect] him.
How high are the heavens above the earth? We don't even know the answer to that question, but we do know that other stars and galaxies are light-years away from the earth. That is how great God's mercy (unmerited favor) is towards us. How far is the east from the west? The east and west never meet. You can go in an eastward direction around the entire world until you end up in the same place you started. In verse 13, we see how much tenderness God feels for us, as a father loves and cares for his children.
4. We will not lack anything we need.
Psalm 34: 9, 10, 11 -- O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear[respect] him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear [respect] of the Lord.
If we regard the Lord with awe and respect, we shall not suffer want in our life. Everything we need to live a good life will be available.
Psalm 85: 9 -- Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear[respect] him; that glory may dwell in our land.
There are several verses that tell us that the fear [respect] of the Lord will prolong our earthly life, as well as making it more satisfying and happy.
Proverbs 10: 27 -- The fear[respect] of the Lord prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
Proverbs 19: 23 -- The fear of the Lord tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.
Proverbs 22: 4 -- By humility and the fear [respect] of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life.
Proverbs 14: 27 -- The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
Here we see that awe and respect for God is a fountain of life that will save us from the snares of death. As born again believers in the Age of Grace, we have the gift of holy spirit within. This is our 'fountain of life', which gives us eternal life. When Christ comes back, we will be there at the gathering together. The Old Testament believers knew that they would be in the First Resurrection (Resurrection of the Just), and then they will also have eternal life (See related teaching:The Seven Administrations).
This teaching covers just some of the benefits of 'fearing [respecting] the Lord'. It is the best way for us to live, providing wisdom, knowledge, blessings, and life itself. It is truly a treasure to us, and one that no one can take away.
Isaiah 33: 6 -- And wisdom[true spiritual skill] and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear [respect] of the Lord is his treasure.