The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever. (Psalm 111:10)
We all know what it is like to be gripped by fear. We all know what the sensation is like to have a shiver run down our spines, our mouths go dry, and our hair stand on end.
Fear has a close buddy known as worry, and the two often work in tandem. We can get caught up playing the what-if game: What if this happens? What if that happens? In fact, modern medical research has proved that worry can actually break down our resistance to disease — and even shorten our lives. Charles Mayo, founder of the famed Mayo Clinic, said that while he never knew anyone who died of overwork, he knew many who died of worry.
Far too often we are afraid of the wrong things in life, but we aren’t afraid of the right things — or perhaps I should say the right One. We don’t fear God. Yet the Bible tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
But what does that mean? First, let me tell you what it doesn’t mean. To fear God doesn’t mean cowering in terror before Him. Rather, the fear of God has been properly defined as a wholesome dread of displeasing Him. So if I have sinned, it is not the fear of what God will do to me but the fear of what I have done to Him. That is what it is to fear the Lord.
The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear Him, you fear nothing else. On the other hand, if you don’t fear God, then you fear everything else.