What is our understanding of “the fear of God” and how do we live out this teaching in our Christian life? Rev Dr Teo examines the meaning behind this truth.
What is the Fear of God?
The Bible has many references to the concept of the fear of God. Both the Old and New Testaments use various phrases such as the “fear of God”, “fear ofthe Lord”, “fear God”, and “fear the Lord” that referto the same concept.
What does it mean to have a fear of God?
We need to first understand this concept before we can live and experience this truth. Let us examine this concept scripturally.
- Bible dictionaries describe the concept in three possible motifs that are used throughout the scriptures, and they are namely:
- a reverent awe of God;
- a deep personal piety in worshipping and obeying God; and
- a strong faith in God.
All these three motifs express a life of strong devotion and obedience to God. Such a godly lifestyle releases divine blessings into one’s life.
How is the Fear of God seen in Psalm 128?
The Bible provides many good examples of how believers should live out the fear of God. Psalm 128 is one such example as it examines the nature of the fear of God, its effects on one’s life, and implications for marriage and children.
1. Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to Him.
2 .You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 .Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
4. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the LORD.
Verse 1 begins with a powerful declaration of promise that divine blessings will follow all who fear the Lord. However, the word “all” does not refer to everyone in general but only to those who walk in obedience to Him. The fear of God has a strong correlation with walking in obedience to the Lord Jesus.
How does one walk in obedience to the Lord?One walks in obedience through the following ways:
One walks in obedience through the following ways:
- obeying God’s Word (Deuteronomy 10:13; 1 Samuel 12:14);
- serving and worshipping God with all of one’s heart and soul (Deuteronomy 10:12; 2 Chronicles 19:9); and
- avoiding all forms of evil (Proverbs 3:7, 8:13, 14:16).
The moment one chooses to fear God and walks in obedience to the Lord, the blessed outcome is promised in the following verses.
Verse 2 explains that the outcome is the release of God’s blessing and prosperity through the enjoyment of the fruit of one’s labor. Historically, most Israelites were farmers and the crops of their harvests were vital for their yearly survival. Every farmer looked forward to the harvest of their crops to enjoy the fruits of their labor with their families. This blessing to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor was of an important significance to every ancient Jewish family.
In our contemporary context, when God promises that we will enjoy the fruit of our labor, it means that we can enjoy life and all that we have worked for without worry, turmoil and painful toil. (Proverbs 10:22, 15:6) This promise is crucial for modern-day believers as many around us are living with mounting debts and a pressurizing pace of life that deny them the peace to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Therefore, when believers live out the fear of God, His Word promises that they will have the fullness of life through the enjoyment of the fruit of their labor.
It is apparent that when one fears God, the divine blessing is also extended to the immediate family members as well. The fear of God has both individual and group effects on those who live it out on a daily basis.
Verse 3 elaborates that God’s blessing will also be upon the spouse and the children of the one who fears God. In the ancient Middle East, the societal practice was patriarchal, and one of the important roles for women was to give birth to as many children as possible. Women’s ability to give birth was equivalent to the badge of honor and social standing in the society. This verse states that the man who fears God will be blessed through the fruitful vine of his wife with many children and they will be like olive shoots. The significance of olive shoots is understood in the context of the Middle Eastern culture to mean longevity and fruitfulness because olive trees can grow for hundreds of years as extremely resilient trees. When the children are referred to as olive shoots, it signifies the continuation of the father’s fruitfulness and vitality from one generation to another. Therefore, the one who fears God will also experience posterity and the divine favor from one generation to the next.
Believers who desire to experience God’s favor in both their lives today and the future of their children must live out the fear of God boldly without shame and excuse. The fear of God must be greater than the fear of the world before one can experience the divine effects of God’s blessing in the various dimensions of life. Therefore, live out the fear of God boldly so that the divine blessings of Psalm 128 will follow after you in this generation to the next!
About Rev Dr Wilson Teo
Rev Dr Wilson Teo is the President of TCA College in Singapore. He travels to different parts of the world to establish connections with institutions as well as minister at various platforms. Dr Teo also serves as an Executive Pastor on the Leadership Team of Trinity Christian Centre where he is strategically involved in the development and planning of the church. Known as a mentor of leaders, he is passionate about building strong churches and families, and raising leaders both in the ministry and marketplace.