Tool for HeartConnexion® Living
Bring the “Fear of the Lord”
Into Every Life Situation (Part 1)
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.” Psalm 27: (NKJV)
Just hearing or reading the phrase “fear of the Lord” may take some of us to a negative, defensive place. Some of us have an image of God as angry, revengeful and judgmental which makes Him feel like a source of terror and rejection rather than a source of strength and courage. Even those of us who experience Him in more positive terms are not sure what to do with biblical language that can seem at conflict with God who is unconditional love. Misunderstanding this concept robs us of significant resources to deal with the fears that we all face in life.
Fear can be either positive or negative. It is an experience of intense respect, reverence, and awe of something or someone that leads us toward making certain choices. Positive or negative awe is a feeling of standing speechless and/or having no response or category to describe what is happening; it takes our breath away. The source of the fear and the degree of respect we give to that source influences the direction of our life. In times of fear, it is good to ask some basic questions: To whom am I submitting in fear? Why does this situation cower me down, afraid?
Fear is a very important tool for life. It is good to be afraid of walking onto a busy street without looking both ways. We learn by observation and experience to fear (that is, respect) the law of physics that says two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. We also learn about fear on an emotional level. Self-limiting tapes come from experiences that informed us about what feels dangerous or safe. For example, an old humiliating incident from elementary school may create paralyzing fear in here-and-now situations where we face the opportunity to take classes to improve our skills. So, the current fear of humiliation or shame reflects our respect for an internalized belief that choosing to step into fear may re-damage our self-worth as happened back in school.
A review of scriptures suggest that the biblical phrase “fear of the Lord” is meant to be a positive source of strength and courage to overcome human fears that would keep us from living in grace, freedom and obedience to God. Converted Gentiles were called “god-fearers” because it was considered so fundamental to Jewish covenant identity. Accordingly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning (cornerstone) of experiential knowledge (Proverbs 1:7). Jewish thought saw little value in abstract information or theory, so the essence of real knowledge was experiencing intimacy with God. This Lord-fear was also the foundation of wisdom – an approach to life that leads to the practical application of knowledge about how to live daily life (Proverbs 9:10). It is the source of confidence, discernment to avoid evil and confidence to overcome the fear of evil (Proverbs 16:6,7; Psalm112:7).
How do we do that? The Psalmist says that,” The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.” (Psalm 25:14) The Hebrew word translated “secret” is means intimate consultation, an image of having our head so close to God that only a whisper is needed for Him to communicate about the inner workings of “His covenant.” Love comes across the abyss between Creator and created to whisper about how life can work. The only question is, “Do we respect Him enough to listen?” Do we choose to respect (fear) Him more than we respect (fear) our past shaming experiences? Whom shall I fear? …Of whom shall I be afraid?
Small Group Sharing:
- Which is closer to your image of God – Unconditional Love or Condemning Tyrant?
- What are some of the most challenging old fears that still demand that you respect them?
- What costs you have paid by fearing old fears more than the ‘fear of the Lord”?
- How does the concept of bringing your “fear of the Lord” to confront your other fears strike you?
- How would your life be different if you started using this tool for HeartConnexion living?
Proverb1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NKJV)
Proverbs 1:29-33 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.
Proverbs 2: 1 – 8 My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, and preserves the way of His saints. (NKJV)
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding….” (NKJV)
Proverbs 14: 26 – 27 In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death. (NKJV)
Proverbs 16:6,7 In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity; and by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil. (NKJV)
Psalm 25:12-14 Who is the man who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land. The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. (NASB)
Psalm 27: 1-3 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. (NKJV)
Psalm 111:10; 112: 1, 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever…. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who delights greatly in His commandments…. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (NKJV)
Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. (NKJV)
Dr. Paul D. Fitzgerald, ©2003 HeartConnexion Ministries