Psalm 33:17-18, 22 Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the Lord watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love . . . Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone.
Agoraphobia. That’s what Adrian Monk’s brother Ambrose suffers from in Season 2, Episode 11 of the quirky old detective series that Dave and I watched last night. Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult, or help might not be available if things go wrong.
It’s just one of many words that migrated to English from the Greek phobos, all of them with fearful (haha) connotations.
I fully expected, when I started researching the Greek words used for fear in the Bible, that fear of the Lord would be a different word. But it’s not. Karis used to say, “pain is pain.” Apparently, from the perspective of the biblical writers, “fear is fear.” It’s a recognition of something stronger than we are, that can impact our lives.
So what’s the difference between Ambrose being afraid to leave his house, and fearing God? The psalmist says it’s God’s unfailing love. It’s his character, his trustworthiness. Agoraphobia, like all other phobias, imprisons, limits, narrows, destroys. Fear of God leads to hope and freedom. Here are just a few of the many other fruits of reverential fear of the Lord in our lives:
Respect and honor
“Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.” Lev. 19:14
“Stand up in the presence of the elderly and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.” Lev. 19:32
“Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other. I am the Lord your God.” Lev. 25:17
“Do not charge interest or make a profit at the expense of one who falls into poverty”. Lev. 25:36
“You and your children and grandchildren must fear the Lord your God as long as you live. If you obey all his decrees and commands, you will enjoy a long life.” Deut 6:2, 24
“Fear the Lord and judge with integrity, for the Lord our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes.” 2 Chronicles 19:7
“Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need.” Ps 34:9
“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys his servant? If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God.” Isaiah 50:10
Release from other fears
“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zeph 3:17
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father . . . together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” Rom 8:15-17
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Tim 1:7
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. 2 Cor 7:1
Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. Phil 2:12
Thankfulness and worship
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. Heb 12:28
“’Fear God,’ he shouted. ‘Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.’” Rev 14:7
And from the throne came a voice that said, “Praise our God, all his servants, all who fear him, from the least to the greatest.” Rev 19:5
We’re barely scratching the surface of all the benefits Scripture shows us about fearing God!
This leads me to my bedrock belief #3: GOD is my Lord, my “audience of one.” Not politics, not patriotism, not what other people may think of me or whether I’ll be ostracized if I say things outside a certain political box. All of that is temporary, but God’s rule over my life is eternal.
And the benefits of fearing him, the Lord of lords and King of kings, Creator of the universe, Lover of his creation, both human and all else, faithful keeper of all his promises, are immeasurable.