The Fear of the Lord

“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:28)

This key phrase, “the fear of the LORD” (Yahweh), occurs in a distinctive pattern in the Old Testament. There are 14 occurrences in the book of Proverbs and seven in the other books, or a total of three times seven altogether, both of which are important Bible numbers.

As we see from the verses in Job preceding our text, when God made man He told him that true wisdom is “the fear of the Lord” (Adonai—the only use of Adonai with this phrase). Unfortunately, Adam and Eve sought wisdom in the tree of knowledge instead (Genesis 3:6) and soon were hiding themselves in fear. The psalmist testifies: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). The final occurrence of the phrase is also in a wisdom context. “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Isaiah 33:6).

There are numerous other references to fearing God, and a survey of all these would quickly show that the fear of the Lord is far more than mere “reverential trust,” as some would define it. It means profound awe, intense awareness of God’s hatred of sin, as well as His omniscience and omnipresence, and living in light of the certainty of facing Him at His future judgment seat. It means unquestioning belief in God’s Word and in His unmerited gift of salvation.

But then it also means “the beginning of knowledge,” “to hate evil,” “prolongeth days,” “strong confidence,” “a fountain of life,” and “satisfied,” as well as attaining true “riches and honour” (Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 10:27; 14:26; 14:27; 19:23; 22:4). “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever” (Psalm 19:9), and those who truly fear the Lord have everlasting life. HMM

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