Reading: Psalm 76
For the director of music. With stringed instruments. A psalm of Asaph. A song.
God is renowned in Judah; in Israel his name is great.
His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion.
There he broke the flashing arrows,
the shields and the swords, the weapons of war.
You are radiant with light,
more majestic than mountains rich with game.
The valiant lie plundered, they sleep their last sleep;
not one of the warriors can lift his hands.
At your rebuke, God of Jacob,
both horse and chariot lie still.
It is you alone who are to be feared.
Who can stand before you when you are angry?
From heaven you pronounced judgment,
and the land feared and was quiet—
when you, God, rose up to judge,
to save all the afflicted of the land.
Surely your wrath against mankind brings you praise,
and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.
Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them;
let all the neighboring lands bring gifts to the One to be feared.
He breaks the spirit of rulers; he is feared by the kings of the earth (NIV).*
Has the church abandoned the fear of God? Has our messaging focused so exclusively on the God of love and forgiveness that the very idea of cringing in fear before God is a completely foreign to us? In more general terms is fear a bad thing—an emotion we should always avoid? Is there something wrong with our relationship with God if we fear Him?
First we need to acknowledge that fear can have both good and bad consequences. A healthy fear of a sharp blade will keep me from sticking my hands under the deck of a running lawnmower. There is wisdom and there is safety in that kind of fear. But the constant fear of a violent, abusive spouse can be devastating to a person’s health and happiness. In brief, fear is essential for self-preservation, but too much of it has terrible consequences. It has a crippling effect by producing paralysis of the human spirit.
A complete lack of fear can have terrible consequences too. I still have both my hands because of a healthy fear of whirling blades. We all need a healthy fear of God. The psalmist states, “It is you alone who are to be feared.”
Jesus essentially said the same thing. “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Response: LORD God, you are the One I need to fear. Give me a healthy dose of fear. I want to love and fear you, so I will walk in full obedience to your commands. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there a place for both love and healthy fear in your relationship with God?
* NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, COPYRIGHT ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 BY BIBLICA
Volume I of Psalms 365: Develop a Life of Worship and Prayer has won the 2021 Best Book of the Year Award and for those who love God’s word, it’s an ideal way to daily meet with the Lord. For a closer look at Volumes II and III click here.
Yes, there has to be, and will always need to be until we reach that stage of “perfect love” which is the only thing that casts out fear. And when will we get there? When we are fully sanctified and glorified with Him in eternity.
Those are wise words Wally. Occasionally, I still need to have my butt kicked by the Lord. That’s why the fear of the Lord is so effective. Holiness doesn’t happen without discipline. Internal discipline works best. Fear of external discipline keeps my flesh in check.
I agree. We need to have that fear stressed upon us from time to time to remind us of how much we need Jesus. The sin is already forgiven, but we can’t just go through life expecting everything to be a bed of roses because we’re Christians. Often the bed gets filled with thorns along the way. I believe a healthy fear of the Lord, God is a necessary component to our journey. Thanks once more for the reminder.
I had love and fear of God drummed into me as I studied the Ten Commandments in catechism class as a young teen (12-14). Many believers have adopted a love only approach to their faith, but that is not consistent with the whole of Scriptures. I think at times, we have all been guilty of cherry-picking our favorite Bible verses and camping around them. Regularly reading the whole book helps avoid that temptation.
Thanks for your thoughts, Kathy.
There needs to be a balance❤️