In the NASB, the phrases “fear the Lord” and “fear God” appear at least 82 times. There are other variants, to be sure. The meaning of “fear” in this biblical context ironically comes down to the fact that the answer to man’s fears for this life is fear of God—responding to Him out of reverence and respect to serve Him only. “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.” (Deuteronomy 6:13) It’s the simultaneous act of living a life committed to what we worship. In this Psalm David provides insight into how his own fear of the Lord works and how we can tell if it’s sufficiently present in our own walk and behavior.
1I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in
my mouth.
2My soul will make its boast in th
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
3O magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

[Read v.1-3]

Q: Based on these verses, what would you say the fear of the Lord begins with?

A: Praise; giving Him the credit.

Q: Yes, but examine the activities David describes. Is this one-time or occasional praise?

A: “ all times...” and “...continually...” sort of jump out at you. Notice that it’s not just with the mouth but from the soul, something that is not only sincere but constantly with us—something we might term “a continual attitude of praise”.

Q: Is this a solo or exclusively private activity?

A: In v.3 David’s praise in infectious, spreading to everyone around him. His praise is not just visible but promoting participation.

Application: Can you give something due respect—even exalted respect—without lauding it for its superior qualities? Would you characterize your praise of God to be indwelling and always active, or just something that comes up once a week during church service? Do you see that praise is the most visible sign of our respect and fear for the One True God?

4I sought the Lord, and He
answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
5They looked to Him and were
And their faces will never be
6This poor man cried, and the
Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his
7The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

[Read v.4-7]

Q: What do each of these characterizations have in common? Of what do they collectively speak?

A: We should know from both our own personal experience and from the testimony of others that we are always in the center of His protection.

Application: How can you not respect and revere He Who answers, delivers, hears, saves, and rescues us? Shouldn’t that give a healthy boost to our godly fear of Him?

8O taste and see that the Lord
is good;
How blessed is the man who
takes refuge in Him!
9O fear the Lord, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there
is no want.
10The young lions do lack and
suffer hunger;
But they who seek the Lord shall
not be in want of any good thing.
11Come, you children, listen
to me;
I will teach you the fear of
the Lord.
12Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he
may see good?
13Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
14Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

[Read v.8-14]

Q: According to v.8, is our fear of the Lord something accomplished from afar?

A: It specifically describes our position as taking “refuge in Him”; that is, to dwell continually in his presence and protection.

Q: Do v.9-10 promise anything and everything desired by the heart of those that fear the Lord?

A: Absolutely not. First, to take refuge in Him will certainly have an effect on what you want—your desires change from your own to His; and second, we “shall not be in want of any good thing”, a personal judgment which is almost certainly to also come into alignment with God’s view of what is good and not our own. Our wants and desires come under His influence and subjection.

Q: So how are the actions described in v.11-13 an extension of our taking refuge in Him and bringing our wants and desires in alignment with His?

A: They’re all the actions of personal obedience. If we’re in the right place (taken refuge in Him), of the same mind (brought our wants and desires in alignment with His), our life’s actions and choices are brought into obedience to complete us.

  • “...keep your tongue from evil...”
  • “...keep...your lips from speaking deceit...:
  • “...depart from evil and do good...”
  • “ peace and pursue it.”

Point: To fear the Lord first begins with an attitude of praise, reinforced by living according to the knowledge of always being in His protection, and bringing one’s place, attitude, and heart into obedience to Him.

15The eyes of the Lord are toward
the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.
16The face of the Lord is against
To cut off the memory of them
from the earth.
17The righteous cry, and the
Lord hears
And delivers them out of all their
18The Lord is near to the
And saves those who are
crushed in spirit.

[Read v.15-18]

Q: Does the Lord ever sleep? Then for how long are His eyes, ears, and face so fixed as described?

A: Always. The point is that the Lord is always present, whether we are righteous or evildoers.

Point: Certainly everyone should fear God Who never sleeps, who is always near, and Whom we know will respond in kind to the deeds of each person. It’s important to note that God does not say the righteous will not experience trouble, a broken heart, or even a crushed spirit, but that He is faithful to respond, to deliver, and save from these conditions.

Application: Do you fool yourself into thinking that God is not always watching, not always listening, or not always near? How would the quality of your fear of the Lord change if you began to live like you believed this to be true?

19Many are the afflictions of
the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of
them all.
20He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
21Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous
will be condemned.
22The Lord redeems the soul of His
And none of those who take refuge
in Him will be condemned.

[Read v.19-22]

Q: Does a right relationship with God guarantee that one will never have any problems in this life?

A: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous”. There will definitely be problems in this life. “But the Lord delivers him out of them all”. This is the difference between those that fear the Lord and those that don’t.

Q: What does the Lord do on behalf of the righteous—the one that biblically fears Him?

  • delivers” (v.19)
  • keeps” (v.20)
  • redeems” (v.22)

Q: What happens to the wicked—those that don’t fear Him?

  • slay” (v.21)
  • condemned” (v.21)

Point: Here is the summary of God’s work in life, whether or not a person chooses to respect, revere, and regard Him as Lord of their life. Having this knowledge that in the end He lifts up those that choose Him and brings down those that don’t, we have the motivation to fear Him for knowing that He follows His Word through with His actions.


Overall Application

  • Fear begins with a heart that continually praises Him both in the inner man and visibly by encouraging others to do the same.

  • Fear is built out of our commitment to seek and remain in His protection, to take up refuge in Him rather than the world.

  • Fear is the result of following through with personal obedience.

  • Fear is born out by what the Lord does, how differently he treats those that follow Him completely and those that don’t.

Is our respect and reverence for God a part-time or full-time activity? Ever notice that the people who are the greatest examples of Christian maturity never cease to praise Him, never cease to talk about Him? Going forward, how are we going to properly fear the Lord? End