When Abraham excused his lie for telling Abimilech that Sarah was his
sister instead of his wife, his grounds for doing so was that “surely the
fear of God is not in this place” (Gen. 20:11). He did not believe the
people had any respect for either God or His will. Paul addressed certain
worshippers in a synagogue in Antioch thus: “Men of Israel and ye that
fear God” (Acts 13:16).
The Psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the man that feareth Jehovah” (Ps. 12:1).
Among those blessings is that God’s mercy is great toward those that
fear Him and that He pitieth them (Ps. 103:11, 13). God takes pleasure in
those who fear Him, and the fear of Jehovah can bring strong comfort (Ps.
147:11; Pr. 14:26). The fear of Jehovah is something we ought and
should learn (Dt. 14:23).
First, the “fear of Jehovah” involves the respect and awe we have for
Him. The Hebrew writer urged: “Let us serve God with reverence and
awe..” (Hb. 12:28). The Psalmist wrote: “Stand and awe and sin not.
Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Ps. 4:4).
Sometimes one may say, “I have a healthy fear of electricity,” by which
that one means that he knows its power and respects it and acts
accordingly. When God smote Ananais and Saphira for their sin “great
fear came upon the whole church, and upon all that heard these things”
Second, the “fear of Jehovah” is to live a life pleasing in His sight. “The
fear of Jehovah is to hate evil, pride and arrogance and the evil way and
perverse mouth” (Pr. 8:13). When Jews of Nehemiah’s day were adding
suffering to fellow Jews through their charging usury (a violation of their
law), Nehemiah rebuked them and told them they ought to walk “in the
fear of Jehovah” and not exact usury from fellow Jews (Neh. 5:9). One of
Judah’s good kings urged judges to walk in the fear of the Lord and not
accept bribes. They were to judge righteous judgment (2 Chron. 19:9).
When man cleanses himself from the defilements of flesh and spirit, he
thereby perfects holiness in the “fear of the Lord” (2 Cor. 7:1). Man’s
whole duty is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13).
Man is commanded to fear God (1 Pet. 2:13). Such is the beginning of
wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Pr. 9:10; 1:7f). We have God’s
assurance that “God is no respector of persons but in every nation he
that feareth him and worketh righteousness is acceptable with him” (Acts
When the penitent thief rebuked the other who mocked Jesus in his
suffering, he asked, “Dost thou not fear God?” (Lk. 23:40). This is a good
question we would do well to ask ourselves.