Fear of the Lord
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." As a child, this very thought made me fearful. Why would a God of love cause me to fear? I thought God was love.
God is love. And God is to be feared. Not because God has the will to harm us. No, we fear God because God is powerful, unpredictable, and is actively involved in our lives. We fear God because fear is a healthy response to an unpredictable or dangerous situation. Fear keeps us alert. It keeps us aware. It prevents us from running toward danger. It steers us instead toward the thing - or the one - with the power to protect us from danger. Fear is a good and natural instinct. Fear of God keeps us from taking God for granted or forgetting just how very powerful and active God truly is.
God is not a puppet, a magic genie, a wish-granter, or a wet mop. God is fierce, passionate, and fiery. We are right to fear the sheer power of this God. Again, not because God might harm, but because God might do mighty and awesome things. Is God safe? No, but God is good.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Psalm 111
Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.