“The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” Psalm 19:9
From the first verse’s feeling of being swept up in God’s natural handiwork, Psalm 19 has grown to this point when the speaker can make some big declarations about God and God’s ways. Maybe these are truths best tapped into by starting with being awe-struck with the glory of the people/places around us. It’s like David sees the eternal nature of God in the sky/heavens, and moves on to realize that the heart of God is just as eternal. That the ordinances and other instruction God gives us aren’t human-like laws with ulterior motives or with many differing and wishy-washy implications. God’s teaching is from his eternal and loving heart, with our eternal good in mind. So, a healthy fear/reverence of God is and always will be, good. It will always be our healthiest place to be, if we take this at its word. How does that make us feel, I wonder? Fear isn’t something we pursue; we flee it, duh. We avoid it or distract ourselves from it or replace/mask it with other emotions. We don’t sit down in it, or dwell on it. Much of our faith even demands we be fearless.
But then there’s the “fear of the LORD.” Maybe more in the old timey sense like, “hey, he/she is a good, God-fearing Christian.” We shouldn’t picture ourselves before God as panic-stricken, terrorized, or afraid of harm; the fear of the LORD should be very different from our worst nightmares and most diabolical earthly experiences. But maybe before God we should know we’re not completely out of harm’s way, either. What a weird thing to think about. In God’s most direct presence, we ought to find ourselves in both the most perilous but peaceful place we can ever be. C.S. Lewis’ Aslan is perfect. All the majesty and terror of a full-grown and powerful lion. Combined with all love and comfort. Or, a little rougher, the conclusion to the film “Dogma” does okay. I tried to find a clip but there’s no amount of editing to make it totally appropriate. Anyway, God is innocent-looking Alanis Morisette (below) who doesn’t speak directly (but instead talks through the “Metatron”) because the very voice of God would destroy all who stand by and hear.
In Scripture, the fear of the LORD shows up every time God breaks in on history in a direct way: people hit their faces, are “sore afraid”, say silly/strange/fretful things, are struck dumb, confess their imperfection, and more.
Anyway, however you have a feel for God-fearing, it makes Biblical sense and David’s Psalm gives us the idea that it isn’t going away. He calls it pure and enduring. For all our dreams our fluffy, golden heaven and candy shops that never close, it will be a place where we are with God; and I have a feeling it will be exhilarating. Today, pursue that exhilaration. Not so much like Christian adrenaline junkies, but like people who aren’t afraid to run after the presence and majesty of God, even only to meet it and be humbled to the floor. Find that good fear of the Lord.