Learning to Fear

Psalm 34:9:  “Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing” (NIV).

Observation: There are many familiar, comforting lines in Psalm 34, such as, “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips” (v. 1); “My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice” (v. 2); “Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together” (v. 3). In meditating on these and other familiar passages, I was struck by a different theme, but a recurring one:  the command to fear the Lord. Verse 7 proclaims, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”  “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (v. 11). And then this all-encompassing promise: “Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.”

Application: Scripture is replete with the idea that those who would draw near to God must do so in fear. The rewards of knowing Him in such intimacy are unsurpassed; here we are told we will lack nothing if we will but fear Him. What this leads me to understand is that fear rightly comes as I contemplate aspects of God’s personality that are so overwhelming as to stun me into deeper realization of His awesome power or majesty or goodness or forgiveness as in Psalm 130:4: “With you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared.”

Who is this astounding personage in whom dwells the very nature of forgiveness? Not just the ability to forgive, nor a willingness to forgive, but the very nature of forgiveness itself is contained within the heart and character of God. It is He whom we must fear, He who has power over our very souls, over life itself. In coming to this terrifying realization, fear is a natural, appropriate response.

Moreover, we are commanded in Psalm 34:11 to teach the fear of the Lord to our children and by extension, to one another. We are not in possession of a feel-good gospel. The Christian Gospel insists upon being understood in its fulness not simply that none would perish in the end, but also that we might lack nothing along the way. Nothing! Imagine it! The implication here is not simply that wI will end this life satisfied to finally pass into His presence, but to find moment-by-moment that He is enough, He is everything. Paul said even Jesus would be “made subject to [God] who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28). In this I find no lukewarmness, but a call to radical submission, a call to embrace the same view of God held by our Lord Jesus.

Prayer: Father, it takes God to know God. Only You are able to so ignite my heart, mind, and emotions that I arrive at a proper fear of You. I pray for Your fiery anointing today, Lord, that in fearing You I would lack nothing.

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