Defining “Fear of the Lord"
Well, the fear of the Lord is different from being terrified of the Lord. Though the words “fear” and “terror” belong in the same etymological family, they’re very different. So think of them more as cousins rather than siblings.
So where does this phrase “fear of the Lord” come from and what’s the context? Surprising to some, the phrase “fear of the Lord” is not in reference to hell or the wrath of God but rather, the context is the grace of God in salvation! When we read Deuteronomy 6, we get a good picture of what fearing God actually means.
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’
– Deut. 6:20-25
You see, God does not give commandments and then say, "If you do these, I'll enter a relationship with you." Rather, God enters into a relationship with his people and then says, “Now this is how I want you to live.”
This is what “fear of the Lord means. It means to be in a loving, ongoing, sanctifying, obedient, reverent relationship with the living God.
When you hear the phrase “Fear of the Lord” it drives home that major point, that ever so glorious and unbelievably unpopular doctrine of the Church known as LORDSHIP. As Christians, we do not understand our relationship to God to be one only of he being our Savior, though he most certainly is! God is also our Lord who has called us to follow him, to lay down our lives in obedience to him. But we must not forget that as Moses says that it’s not so that he can burden us! God has no interest in grinding your life down to powder for no purpose. The fear of the Lord is “for our good always, that he might preserve us…"