The book of Proverbs, and several other places in the Bible, mention the "fear of the Lord".

Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

In other contexts, such as when God spoke to Abraham, he said "fear not".

Genesis 15:1 (ESV)
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

In yet other contexts, the "fear of the Lord" is praised as a great thing.

Isaiah 33:6 (ESV)
and he will be the stability of your times,
abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is Zion's treasure.

What is the difference in these context and in what sense are Christians supposed to "fear" the Lord?

3 Answers 3


Proverbs 9:10 and Isaiah 33:6 are referring to the fear of offending the Lord or sinning.

I believe in Genesis 15:1 God is telling Abraham that he does not need to have fear, because he did a good thing by rejecting the king of Sodom's reward in Genesis 14:21-24.

The Catholic Bible states it pretty well when it says, "Lastly, the gift of fear fills us with a sovereign respect for God, and makes us dread, above all things, to offend Him."

This is saying that we should have so much respect for God that we should fear ever offending him. While the source is Catholic, I don't necessarily take it as a Catholic only stance.

Some say we should fear the Lord's wrath, but I believe the wrath alone should not be why we fear sinning. It should also be out of love and respect for the Lord.


What is the Fear of the Lord?

  • The word Fear in the Hebrew is one of God's Names.

  • Fear is our reaction when we see God as He really is and then see ourselves in the light of who God is."

  • The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

  • The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

  • The Fear of the Lord is to hate evil.

  • The Fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom.

  • The Fear of the Lord is our treasure.

  • The Fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. All the saints in heaven today or who will ever be in heaven, Fear God.

  • The Fear of the Lord is a fountain of life. Biblically speaking, salvation begins with the Fear of the Lord, "salvation is near to those who Fear God", continues, and is completed in the Fear of God.

The Fear of the Lord is not respect for God, since respect is a word that is used to describe the relationship between two people who are either equals or near equals. There is no sense in which man is the equal or near equal of God.

There are over 2,000 verses in the Bible that speak directly about the Fear of the Lord and thousands more that speak indirectly about the fear of the Lord.

There are two MAIN kinds of the fear of the Lord are 1) a Holy Fear of God that makes people to draw near to God; and 2) an unholy fear of God that makes people want to run away from God. Until we learn to distinguish between the Holy Fear of God and the unholy fear of God we are unable to come to any real understanding of the Fear of the Lord.

There are also many blessings and benefits that come only to those who Fear God.

Information about a self-study on what the Bible says about the Fear of the Lord is on my profile.

As a note. I use "Holy Fear", "Fear of God", "Fear of the Lord" to refer to the Fear of God that is clean, eternal, and the Fear that we MUST have. I realize that it is not grammatically correct, but I sacrifice a little grammar for the sake of clarity because very few people have trained themselves to distinguish between the 2 kinds of the Fear of God. Likewise I use 'fear of God", "fear of the Lord" to speak about the unholy fear of God that makes people to run away from God. Once you get used to this method it really improves clarity in speaking about the Fear of the Lord.


Anyone can put forth a definition of the fear of the Lord, but scripture says that to understand the fear of the Lord, there is something you need to do, and it is a price not everyone is willing to pay. That price is given in Proverbs, chapter 2:

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— 3 indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, 8 for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. 9 Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. 11 Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

The problem is that true knowledge is not initially pleasant to the soul. It is only after this knowledge becomes pleasant that we can make progress, and this requires a deep yearning for and humble acceptance of the Word.

  • 3
    This doesn't answer the question asked ("what is the fear of God" not "how can one understand/acquire the fear of God").
    – ThaddeusB
    Jan 8, 2016 at 18:56

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