Psalm 25:12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?

What is the "fear of God" anyway? That question might be easier to answer by looking at a rough definition of fear itself. Fear is the attitude of heart that seeks a right relationship to the fear-source. That's pretty straightforward, right? If I fear the future, I might save and prepare. I want to be in a right relationship with the future, so I'm going to do something about it today to make sure the future doesn't steamroll me. Some people don't fear the future. They just go on like fools and drive right over the cliff. But if I fear the future, I prepare. Does that make sense?

If I fear the dentist, I floss and brush! I believe he probably knows more about teeth than I do. And plus, when he gives that judgmental, self-righteous look like, "You haven't been flossing...." I'm sure you have heard that speech. So, I think, "Oh, I don't want to hear it. I'll floss and brush." Why? Because I fear the outcome of failure. So I seek a right relationship to the fear-source.

If I fear the future, I prepare.

If I fear the dentist, I floss and brush.

If I fear God, I submit.

If I don't fear God, I don't submit.

If I fear God, I do what He says.

Fear it's not bad, by the way. How many people have heard the definition: "Fear God just means to respect Him"? That was bad teaching. Even though the Bible says like a thousand times that we should "fear God," we are just supposed to believe it means only that we should respect Him? Incorrect! I put a lot of time into studying this biblical term. The best word that I can think of to describe what fear means — is fear! I like simple stuff. When the Bible says to "fear God," guess what it means? It means to fear Him. Seek a right relationship with Him.

—James MacDonald