What Is the "Fear of the Lord"?
“And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.”
Isaiah 11:3-5 ESV
As a child, I used to be so afraid when I’d hear a preacher say, “You had better fear the Lord!!!” With fire and brimstone, they would scare the heck out of the kids in the service as parents nodded on in agreement.
I didn’t understand “the fear of the Lord” as a kid, and developed a terror of God. Feeling that He was ready to smite me with fire at every turn, I took what the preachers said and internalized it. I certainly “feared” the Lord, but not in the way the Bible means. It wasn’t until I grew up did I understand what the term meant and how wrong I was taught.
STUDY the Word.
In Isaiah 11:3-5, Isaiah continues on with a description of this rod that would come out of the stem of Jesse. This branch that would become our Savior.
Verse 3 says that Jesus’ delight will be in the fear of the Lord. He will judge with righteousness. Isn’t that good to know? His judgement isn’t based on appearance, gossip, false evidence, or the world’s ever changing standards. Christ, our perfect Judge, is fair in all His ways.
Notice in verse 5 that He will be clothed in righteousness and faithfulness. Does this bring you to the Armor of God? Paul, in Ephesians 6, gets this picture of Isaiah. So when we put on the Armor of God, we are actually putting on Christ Himself!
APPLY the Word.
The fear of the Lord is tricky to understand because we think of fear as an unpleasant emotion, terror, panic, and things like that.
But the Hebrew word yir'âh holds this meaning; reverence. Throughout Scripture, the Fear of the Lord denotes a healthy and overwhelming reverence for our God. To Fear the Lord is a respect for His majesty, power, and who He is. It has nothing to do with being frightened or walking around in constant fear and condemnation. Instead, when we fear the Lord, we hold Him to the highest place in our lives.
LIVE the Word.
My Friend, we serve a righteous judge. He doesn’t need to be seen as with fear or terror as I saw Him as a child. But with overwhelming reverence and love.
May we put Him on, cloth ourselves in Him, and surround ourselves with His righteousness and faithfulness!