The psalmist wrote "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding." (Psalm 111:10)
If one were to google the term "the fear of the Lord" the results would be over 35 million. It seems that there is a lot of people giving their input into what God meant when He spoke that term into the minds of the Bibles authors so many years ago.
So what does that term mean? Is God telling us that we should be afraid of Him? Should we approach Him in worship with our heads covered, crawling on our knees, terrified of being put to death?
Without trying to get to carried away, we need to remember that the Bible was not just written to those of us in the 21st century. A phrase like this carries with it so much weight that we don't fully understand in our western mindset.
When I think about the term "the fear of the Lord," this is what I come up with.
Years ago, our family spent a weekend in the bleak mid-winter with four other families. It was a great time of playing in the snow, eating, sleeping, singing - enjoying each others friendship.
On the first evening, around midnight, all the guys decided that it would be fun to have a bonfire. At this point, it was well below zero outside and a wildly hot fire would be great. We were out in the middle of the country, so all was safe for us to do this.
After a time of warming ourselves by the fire, my mind began to drift. I began to think of the power of that fire. For if I were to leave it, and wander in the countryside, I would last only a few hours in that frigid air. Or if I were to approach the fire too closely, it would certainly burn me.
With that in mind, I imagined that that fire was similar to that of the terminology of "the fear of the Lord." When we approach our Father in Heaven, it's not casually. It's understanding that if we were to walk away, we would certainly die. Consequently, if we were to get too close to Him (without reverence) we would certainly be consumed.
The fear of the Lord is about fear. Healthy fear. Not fearful fear. Understanding that we are loving the One who has so lavishly loved us first.
The fear of the Lord IS the beginning of wisdom. Lean heavily on Him in all things.