Are you afraid of God or do you fear God? Is there a difference?
As kids, many of us were afraid of the dark. Afraid of the monsters under the bed. Afraid of spiders (and maybe still are).
As kids, many of us feared our parents. Feared our teachers.
How do we differentiate the two? And how do we teach fear with out teaching fear?
I often go back to Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary for reference. He was a man of God and, as often as possible, used scripture to back up his definitions.
FEAR: A painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger.
This is what it means when the lights go out, when the bed squeaks, when you walk through the unseen web.
FEAR is the passion of our nature which excites us to provide for our security, on the approach of evil.
In scripture, fear is used to express a filial or a slavish passion. In good men, the fear of God is a holy awe or reverence of God and his laws, which springs from a just view and real love of the divine character, leading the subjects of it to hate and shun every thing that can offend such a holy being, and inclining them to aim at perfect obedience. This is filial fear.
This is what it means to have a healthy respect of and reverence for those in authority over us.
Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.
1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV)
Samuel, after anointing Saul as king over Israel, admonishes the people to cease from turning against God. He’s not telling them to be afraid, to run away cowering from the Lord. God chose them, after all, and led them out of slavery into a good and fruitful land. Why should they be afraid of a God who has only shown them grace and mercy?
Samuel encourages Israel to fear the Lord as a matter of honour and respect.
If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not revel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well.
1 Samuel 12:14 (ESV)
A promise follows the command to fear the Lord. Honour God. Respect him. Be faithful in service to him, and it will be well.
Daily Bible reading: 1 Samuel 10-12; Luke 13:22-35