What is Fear of The Lord?

The Bible talks about fear a lot – it uses the word “fear” over 350 times, afraid over 165 times and specifically uses the term “Fear of the Lord” or “Fear God” or “Fear the Lord” 70 times. But what is the Bible telling us about fear, and why should we Fear God?  After all, isn’t he loving and good and right and perfect?  How do we marry up that kind of a God with fear?  Many of us have unhealthy experiences of fear toward another person – someone in authority over us who used that authority hurtfully, or someone physically or mentally stronger than us who may have bullied us, which caused us to fear them because of what they might do to us.  Fearing someone does not have a positive connotation.  So what is the Bible talking about when it tells us to Fear God?  This term is found both in the Old and New Testament – the Old Testament being originally Hebrew/Aramaic, and the New Testament being originally Greek.  The Hebrew/Aramaic word used for Fear of God is “Yare” (ya-re) which is a verb that means to literally be afraid of and to revere or have deep respect for.  The Greek word used for Fear of God is “Phobeo” (fo-bay-o), its where we get our word “phobia” today, and it means to make you run away in fear.   Jesus tells us we should fear (phobeo) only God (Matthew 10:28).  In Genesis 15:1 God himself tells Abram to “fear (yare) not.”  So we know on the one hand God does not want us to be afraid, and Jesus clarifies by telling us we should be afraid only of God.  So everywhere else in the Bible where it talks about fear, it is bad, but in relation to God, it is good.  Why?  It is because all fear other than fear of God, is a fear of evil (death, pain, suffering, etc), and we have no reason to fear any evil when we trust in God (Psalm 23).  This is because God is more powerful than and has conquered all evil for us (Heb. 2:14-15).  Well that sounds pretty great, so then why should we be afraid of God if he has conquered every evil thing?  What else is left to fear?  Fear is actually a good and normal emotional response, and it is one intended to be felt toward the almighty, all powerful, creator of the universe, but it was never meant to be felt toward evil and death.  Fear causes us to submit to and recognize something more powerful than ourselves.  It causes us to be in awe – it exposes our weaknesses and inabilities.  Fear shows us what we care most about.  And so fear, in the face of a loving, perfect, trustworthy God is an absolutely beautiful response!  What could be better than fearing God?  What deeper respect and submission to his Kingship and authority could we possibly give than to be totally and utterly in fear of him?  But do not pack your fear of evil into this thought – because God is not capable of evil – when we fear God, we are not saying we fear that he will do something evil to us such as kill us or make us suffer.  He is not to be feared for his ability to inflict evil upon us, because he will not.  He is to be feared because there is none greater than He and fear is the correct and beautiful emotional response to a perfect loving God.