Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What does it mean to fear God?

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been reading a book by Ellen Davis called Getting Involved With God: Rediscovering the Old Testament. I'm really enjoying the book, as each chapter continues to provide great insight into certain stories and books from the Old Testament.

The latest chapter I read was on the book of Proverbs. She makes several good points about what wisdom is really all about (namely that wisdom is never abstracted from goodness and how we live our lives), but what stuck me the most is her thoughts on the fear of God. Proverbs says that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. Davis points out that Proverbs consistently "upholds fear as a healthy and necessary disposition toward God. That in itself is to modern readers one of the most offensive things in the Old Testament." So why are we usually so offended by this? What does it mean to fear God?

She says that fear is something we feel in our gut when we come upon the power of God. She continues,
From a biblical perpective, there is nothing neurotic about fearing God. The neurotic thing is not to be afraid, or to be afraid of the wrong thing. That is why God chooses to be known to us, so that we may stop being afraid of the wrong thing. When God is fully revealed to us and we 'get it,' then we will experience the conversion of our fear.
I really like the way she explains this. I am often afraid of the wrong things, mainly being afraid of what people think of me. I desire a healthy fear of God that makes silly fears like that disappear.

I love the way she ends the chapter:
The time comes in every life--and more than once--when we are personally confronted with the power that spread out the heavens like a sequined veil, that formed us out of dust and blew breath into our lungs, that led Israel through the Red Sea on dry land and left Pharaoh's whole army floating behind. If we can experience that power close up and not be gripped in out guts by the disparity between God and ourselves, then we are in a profound state of spiritual slumber, if not acute mental illness. 'Fear of the LORD' is the deeply sane recognition that we are not God.

No comments:

Post a Comment