In the Bible “fear” means several things. It can refer to the terror or dread a person feels in a frightening situation. It can also point to the respect a servant has toward his master and so serves him faithfully. Finally, it can indicate the reverence and awe a person experiences in the presence of greatness. The fear of the Lord is a combination of all these.
Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Fearing God is in many ways the same as knowing God. Reading, learning, meditating and obeying God’s revealed Word and law leads us to that knowledge and fear of God, which in turn makes us truly wise. The fear of God is foundational to true wisdom.
In this section, the psalmist desires that his fear of God, evident in his obedience, will in turn spur on others who likewise fear God. He wants others, just like him, to serve God according to His Word. He wants his actions to promote his neighbor’s life before God, not take away from it.
Do you know God? By studying God’s Word and commandments you understand that He is holy and all-knowing. You learn that His Son, Jesus Christ, is Lord and Master of all and knows your works (Revelation 11:17). Those who fear the Lord have a continual awareness of Him, a deep reverence for Him and a sincere commitment to obey Him. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that you will truly come to know God through the study of His Word and thus have a fear of Him, so that fearing Him, you will become wise, and that those who see your good works will also praise God and fear Him.