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The Fear Of God - What It Means To Me

Updated on July 1, 2011
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:31

If you have read the Bible, I am sure that you have come across Scripture verses about the fear of the Lord. One such verse is:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. Psalm 111:9-10 K.J.V.

Yet another is :

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 K.J.V.

Often, I hear Christian groups say that to fear the Lord means to have reverence for Him and then in response I hear non-believers say but then how is it that the word used is fear? Why wasn't reverence used? The Hebrew word used for fear in the Bible when it comes to the fear of the Lord is Pachad. After some research I found several meanings for it :- dread, terrible fear, awe, and terror.

Always being a person to take the Bible at face value, I have taken the meaning of fear as to have of the Lord, not only reverence, but fear as in terror.

Hold up! Did I really say that? How could a loving God want people to fear Him? I have heard people's argument against fearing God. They say that they could never love a God who demands respect to the point of fear. Hmm. I get where they are coming from but then again, I think of a father with his children. Not an abusive one. One who loves them and cares for them and takes care of them and warns them not to do certain things. When that father is angry don't his children fear him? Definitely. Does he stop loving them when he is angry? Do they stop loving him when he's angry? The answer to both of those questions is no because the father's anger is a righteous one, and his children, knowing they are wrong, rightly fear him and the consequences they will face - and a good father gives consequences to his children.

So yes, I do think that everyone should fear the Lord - with awe and terror. You see the awe comes because of the terror. John Newton said it well in his hymn Amazing Grace:

"'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fear relieved"

I don't think you can be close to the Lord without feeling a bit afraid of Him. I read my Bible and I see in it all of the biographies of the men and women of God. Haven't you seen the bit where the angels appear and the people fall on their faces in fright? What about the time when God raised up a storm because His prophet, Jonah, disobeyed Him and Jonah was tossed into the sea and swallowed by a large fish? I somehow think, at that time, that Jonah was shaking in his boots from awe and fear. How about when God faced Job and basically asked him who did he think he was, questioning God? When the Egyptians and Hebrews alike saw the hand of death passover the land of Egypt there were screams of terror weren't there? I can't imagine that anyone leaving the house on the morning after the Passover being simply joyful about what happened the night before. Awe, and yes, terror at the power of God must have been mingled with that joy.

When Christ, Himself, died on the cross and the sky became dark and the veil of the temple was rent in half and the earth quaked, both believers and the non- believers were there to see it. I think that, having experienced an earthquake, small though it was, I can safely say I'd be on my knees praying dearly for mercy if I was there. And the Bible said they were afraid:

Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. Matthew 27:54 K.J.V.

John, the disciple that Jesus loved, fell at His feet as dead when He, Jesus, revealed Himself to him:

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. The Book of Revelations 1:17 K.J.V.

In recent times, I have heard people decree and demand things of the Lord. It is not unusual for me to hear someone declare that this such and such will be done in the name of Jesus. I think that it is a very bold thing to do and very disrespectful. I also think that a person who can do this so often and freely, can't possibly understand what fearing the Lord means. He is all powerful, all mighty and you are going to tell Him what to do? Yes God said to ask and you shall receive but He never said to boss. I don't know any person on earth who likes to be bossed and sometimes they need it. Do you really think, the Boss, the One who is always right, likes someone telling Him He has no choice, He is going to do the things you say? God has said in His word that He is no respecter of persons.

Abraham, who was known as a friend of the Lord's, (and that word can't be taken lightly because only a few are listed like that) who was credited with righteousness by God, Himself, and who talked and walked with the Lord on more than one occasion, asked God questions in the humblest manner. When he found out about the judgment that God was going to rain on Sodom and Gomorrah, he asked and then apologized to the Lord for asking - that is how much he feared/revered God. When asking the Lord if there Sodom would be spared for forty-five righteous men, he acknowledged that he was but dust and ashes. When he asked if there were thirty righteous men, he asked the Lord to first be not angry with him for asking. He then said that he was sorry to speak again but what if there were twenty people found in Sodom who were there. And the Lord answered him. He approached the Lord with complete reverence, and fear and with a humble spirit. (See Genesis 18:13-22)

If Abraham, who is so close to the Lord, spoke to Him in such a reverential, and yes, fearful tone, far be it from me to take a greater stand than he did. So, for me at least, fearing the Lord, in an awesome/fearsome way, doesn't make His love for me any less. As a matter of fact, fearing Him, helps me to better understand His love which is a vast and wonderful thing and it actually helps me to adore Him more.



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    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      5 years ago from The World (for now)

      God sometimes leads us into conversations so that we can either hear the truth or defend it.

      Thank you, Laurie.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Yes the Almighty God who is slow to anger but great in power.

      Anything he does is justified. I guess that is why I fear him but I dont.

      He can take away from us as fast as he created us. We tend to forget.

      I remember talking to this one guy (bell canada) and for some strange reason the conversation was the wrath of God. I have no clue why or how and I think God set it up that way.

      He was young but very nice to me. He said the wrath of God terrified him to even think about it. He knew that God had the power of more than all the men put together on this earth.

      Anyways thanks again

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      5 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Laurie,

      It is a touchy subject I agree and I know what you mean when you say that you fear Him but yet do not. I have found that my fear of the Lord has grown with time. I see His power and His might. I see His hand and what He can do. I do not fear fearing the Lord, I am grateful for that fear.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Another good hub. I read most of the comments and agree with a little bit from each of them.

      God did say it gives him pleasure to those who fear him.

      Another person said fear and respect go hand in hand, which is very true. She makes a good point. It is very fearful to fall in the hands of the Lord.

      I believe and see that some people do not see this and for that they may not fear the Lord and I think this may be a very controversial statement. Those that do not fear him may not believe in him or believe that he has or will use any power to do anything.

      They dont see the side of punishment that may fall upon them thinking that what they do is ok. Only to discover they have become in the hands of the Lord.

      They may mock/underestimate him and feel that his power is all just stories they read about. God is great in power , there is no man on earth that has the power he does. If anything is powerful it is given through the hands of God.

      The Lord as you mentioned does not like to be bossed and I think any one trying to tell God what to do may as well fear him.

      He also says

      But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone was hung around his neck and he was drowned in the sea . Matthew 18:6

      On the other hand, I still am a bit confused as I do not fear the Lord but not with disrespect, that is not what I mean, I have every bit of respect for our creator and know he is the one who knows what is right and wrong and would never ever mock him.

      I would be too scared to, scared of the consequences. I would be looking behind my back everyday. Well there you go I guess I just answered my own question. So yes I fear the Lord. I guess in one breath I meant that I know I am going with him.

      I know he is not coming to punish me. Not sure if that makes sense however it is a touchy subject and one that is quite interesting actually.

      Good hub

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      6 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Caleb DRC,

      We are indeed commanded to fear God and I agree that it is a very valid commandment of God's. You bring up a great point about following God's commandments. It also made me think about God's goodness and the fact that He is so good, causes His consequences to be just and that must be feared because then all judgments and consequences that come from a good God must be upheld.

      Thanks for the support. I truly appreciate it.

    • Caleb DRC profile image

      Caleb DRC 

      6 years ago

      Hi North Wind:

      Deut. 6:13; 10:12 and Lev. 19:14 are three verses among numerous others which commands us to fear God! It is as valid a commandment to follow as are all the others, and considering the number of times Scripture says to fear God, it may be more valid than many of the others. In fact would we have any problem following all of God's commandments if we had sufficient fear of Him?

      Anyway, your hub hit the target in the center---Great job.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      7 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Jstelletello! Nothing is impossible with the Lord, I agree. Not fearing Him is a bit like underestimating Him.

      Your words echo my thoughts :)

    • jstelletello profile image


      7 years ago

      Fear and a healthy respect go hand in hand, I cannot agree with you more! Knowing what the Lord is capable of it is almost foolish not to maintain an element of fear. Great stuff!

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      7 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Sandy Sue!

      Thanks for reading and commenting :) For a time I just listened when people told me about the fear of the Lord but there was always a nagging inside my head that told me the fear I had for the Lord was not only reverence but real fear. I recognize His power and the small insignificance of me.

    • sandy sue profile image

      sandy sue 

      7 years ago

      Very insightful article. I always thought of the fear of the Lord as "God awareness" yet there is the aspect of a mighty and powerful God that we would tremble before- it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      7 years ago from The World (for now)

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for reading and commenting :) I don't think that it necessarily is something God wants, it just goes with the territory of His Lordship. Someone with all the power is feared that is just the way it goes. But if fear is a silly human emotion then wouldn't all human emotions be silly? And wouldn't that include love as well since that is a human emotion?

      I'm glad you liked the piece and even if you don't agree, I really appreciate your thoughts as they got me thinking too !

    • Sarah Shepherd profile image

      Sarah Shepherd 

      7 years ago from San Diego, California

      I still don't think that an all-powerful, LOVING God would ever want us to "fear" him... In "awe" of him, yes, but I don't believe any divine being would ever even think of a silly human emotion like "fear"; or even want that for Himself of us. Good write though, got me thinking, obviously :). Keep sharing!

    • North Wind profile imageAUTHOR

      North Wind 

      7 years ago from The World (for now)

      Thanks so much for your comment, Tony L Smith! I agree a lot of times God's grace and mercy are used as excuses for doing the wrong thing. He does say in His words how He feels - pleased, angry, and even jealous.

      I do feel God's displeasure sometimes as well, and I feel His chastising too!

      Thanks again and God's blessings be upon you and yours!

    • Tony L Smith profile image

      Tony L Smith 

      7 years ago from Macon

      Great hub NorthWind, Sometimes we make God out to be a push button mercy machine, not realizing that He is full of emotion or passion, thats why we got those charactors traits ourselfs. He cares like you said, therfore He feels.

      I feel the displeasure of the Lord the most when I treat someone wrong.

      I like how you brought a more solid balance to this subject

      Bless you



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