The Fear of the Lord

I have what I think of as a healthy fear of mountains. It’s been fashioned by a good deal of experience climbing them in the Lake District. It’s a fear that recognises their danger. How they need to be treated with respect. How one should not set off to climb them without being prepared.

So even on the sunniest day, treading familiar paths, all weather gear and the right maps are in my rucksack. Importantly however this fear of the mountains is a good thing. Without that fear I might take stupid risks.

Fear then though we might often think otherwise can be a good thing, it can help us. Job in our first reading had discovered that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.’ So I want us tonight to think a bit about how fear and wisdom belong together.

If we hand in mind images of God solely based on some verses we could highlight from the Bible, then we would understand fear in a very particular way. Indeed we’d likely be here with knees knocking ready to hear a bit of fire and brimstone from the pulpit, “We’re all doomed!”

Thankfully we hold those texts alongside that of what we know of God through Jesus. The fear we know then comes to us in a human face, a face who looks on us with love.

And whilst that shouldn’t undermine the potency or sense of reality of what might happen if… (think climbing the mountain on a winters day in trainers) or as if we don’t know our place, we are not God after all – this Godly fear, understood properly, helps shape our living and in some mysterious way fashions in us something of the wisdom of which Job spoke. Continue reading “The Fear of the Lord”