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 I am told I will lack nothing if I 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 I must fear, He who has power over my very soul, over life itself. In coming to this terrifying realization, fear is a natural, appropriate response.

Moreover, I am commanded in Psalm 34:11 to teach the fear of the Lord to my children and by extension, to one another. I am 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 I might lack nothing along the way. Nothing! Imagine it! The implication here is not simply that I 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 my 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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