Friday, November 14, 2008

The Fear of God

UPDATE: Please Read what Abmo has posted today on this topic. Go to this link: Fear

The fear of God has always been an uncomfortable place for me. I do get that God is so totally amazing and to be feared or reverenced. How can we not when we see the sky above us or the earth at our feet and understand the magnitude of our Creator?

But my background always painted God as a God to be feared for his judgement and wrath.

So it was with Joy that I read this verse in Psalms 130 this week. Joy and puzzlement. What do you think David meant when he said, "If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope."

btw: The word here for feared is not the word used for simply reverence. It goes beyond that word to mean to frighten, (make) afraid, see, terrible (act, -ness, thing)

Any thoughts?


Tyler Dawn said...

I think that those who delight in bearing a grudge are very afraid of this facet of His character. It is a fearsome thing to the religious mind -- this forgiving nature. forgiveness strips religion of all it's power.

Larry Eiss said...

Hebrews 10:31 says "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God." (NKJV)

My understanding of the passage in Psalm 130 is that it is a reminder that it is all because of His mercy and grace that we are not consumed.

Lamentations 3:22 tells us, "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not." (NKJV) and also read the next two verses.

Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed..."

These are not passages meant to scare us into submission, though I, like you, once thought so. Rather they remind us of someof Father's wonderful character traits, or attributes:

a) On our own we cannot become acceptable to Him, and are worthy only of His judgement and wrath.

b) It is by Father's grace that we have come to be made "the righteousness of God" and thus completely acceptable and lovely to Him.

c) Father is merciful beyond measure and has not given us what we deserved, but rather chose find a just way to give us what Jesus deserves.

d) Father does not change, so we may rest sure in the knowledge that He is not going to change His mind and squash us like bugs.

To me, there is a response of fear to this revelation. Such great power is rightly feared. It is only because we know the He is faithful and unchanging that we can "boldly approach the throne of grace." Were this not to be true, I would cease. The fear response helps me remember my place... IN CHRIST.

Grace and Peace in Jesus name.

Tracy Simmons said...

Barb, it reminds me of Capon's writings in the book From Noon to Three where he wrote: "However much we hate the law, we are more afraid of grace."

That rings so true, doesn't it?

David Liem said...

The living bible says it this way...

Lord, if you keep in mind our sins then who can ever get an answer to his prayers? But you forgive! What an awesome thing this is. That is why I wait expectantly , trusting God to help, for He has promised.

As you can see it doesn't quite say the same thing. Fear (be afraid) becomes 'isn't He awesome'. Having a German wife and also having learned some German I can tell translating from one language to another is so dependent on a contemporary living connection (person) to each language and culture. So I think 'isn't He awesome' is the better rendering because it makes more sense in the context of the entire verse and thought.

Joel Brueseke said...

Hi Barb,

I looked up the Hebrew word that is used in this Psalm, and to respectfully disagree, I think it is a Hebrew word that can be used in the awe and reverence sense, as well as in other senses, depending upon the context. :)

Here's the link for the word. I really do think that His grace, mercy, forgiveness, etc, is something to "fear" (stand in awe of, reverence, honor, respect, etc). It's a wonderful thing!

Tera Rose said...

what I find amazing is that I always believed that Jesus was the atonement for sins...

and have come to see that there was already forgiveness.

like yom kippur

and old testament scriptures about grace and forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barb,
I understand your uncomfortableness with fearing God. I see it a bit differently however. Again, this is for me and I could be wrong. I see God as so "terribly" good that my amasement mingles with fear. How can He love me? Why does He choose to be this close to me? I look at the world and all the bad stuff happening and I know that "in" this, there is a God who loves and forgives. He is sooo good, and I cannot understand it. I'm like a desert person, looking at the ocean. It's just too much. He loves me. Isn't that wonderfully scary? I fear Him, not because of His anger, but perhaps because of the absence of it. I fear Him, not because of His anger, but because He is so different from me. I fear Him, because the light is too much.


Rich said...


"But my background always painted God as a God to be feared for his judgement and wrath."

Maybe like everything else in NOT knowing beyong what the 'letter' says, the need of having Father unveil-reveal to us the truth by His spirit, (the letter kills) of His judgement and wrath.

I find it amazing how the enemy of our soul delights in trying to keep us crippled through a very distorted view of that which is but for our good, e.g. His judgement and wrath.

Barb said...

Thank you all for adding to this discussion. Wow, so many aspects to it.

Also, check out Abmo's post on it today at his site at

Anonymous said...

Good point, though sometimes it's hard to arrive to definite conclusions