Fear of the Lord: one interpretation

March 9, 2007 at 2:22 am (Christianity, Religion, Theology)

I have often wondered what is meant by fearing God. The obvious meaning seems to be afraid of God. But if God is our Father, and He seeks to be close to us, how can He demand we be afraid of Him?

In the second reading of today’s Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours, Saint Hilary gives us one interpretation of what “fear of the Lord” may be referring to (italics in the original):

But of the fear of the Lord this is what is written: Come, my children, listen to me, I shall teach you the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord has then to be learned because it can be taught. It does not lie in terror, but in something that can be taught, it does arise from the fearfulness of our nature; it has to be acquired by obedience to the commandments, by holiness of life and by knowledge of the truth.

As such, perhaps fearing the Lord is a reverence towards Him that develops from cleaving close to His word and will. And so while anyone can be afraid of God, it takes a faithful one to properly fear Him.

For Thursday, March 8, anno Domini 2007, Thursday of the Second Week of Lent, Commemoration of Saint John of God, sixteenth day in Lent, fourteenth day of penitence of Lent.

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2 Comments

  1. dicentra said,

    To me, “fearing the Lord” means that you remember that you are answerable to the Lord, that some day you’re going to stand in front of him and explain yourself. So a God-fearing man is one who has a keen sense of his accountability to God and comports himself accordingly.

  2. JT said,

    As such, perhaps fearing the Lord is a reverence towards Him that develops from cleaving close to His word and will. And so while anyone can be afraid of God, it takes a faithful one to properly fear Him.

    I like that definition. I hope someday to understand what it is to fear the Lord but for now, all I have to go on by is a verse from the Psalms, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

    Maybe if a person gets a glimpse of how awesome Jesus is, how wise and omnipotent He is, how loving and forgiving He is; perhaps that person can feel such adoration for God that they want to please Him in every way, and thus, in doing so, they fear Him. I don’t think this kind of fear is derived out of judgement and condemnation, but out of love and admiration. When you whisper His name, you can feel his presence; when you pray, He answers; when you ask an unimportant question, He takes the time to respond because He cares about you. You draw close to Him and you don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that relationship. Thus, you fear Him.

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