Joy in Fear

“I will put the Fear of God in you”!


If you had a childhood that was anything like mine, you have probably heard one of your parents tell you, “I will put the Fear of God in you!”—a statement that was typically accompanied with a promise (or, in my case, a threat) of physical discipline.

So what comes to your mind when you think about the fear of God? Do you think of fearing God in the same way a person fears heights, or the same way a person fears snakes or scorpions? Or do you think of the fear of God as more like having the feeling of awe when one standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon looking into its vast abyss? To fear the Lord is to be in awe and reverence of the reality of God.

When we consider the theme of fearing God, we see that the Bible has several verses that teach us about the fear of God. We learn that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge (Prov.1:7; 9:10) and that friendship with the Lord is for those who fear the Him (Ps.25:14). But one verse in particular reveals to us that the Lord actually takes delight and pleasure in us when we fear Him. Psalm 147:10-11 says: His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor His pleasure in the legs of a man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love.”

When we think of the idea of pleasure and delight we often think of it in terms of us, as God’s people, taking pleasure and delight in God because of His goodness and mercy toward us. However, we see that God is actually pleased with us and smiles when we fear Him. Does our fear of God affect or relate to our faith in God? I think it does; at the end of Psalm 147:11 we read that God not only takes pleasure in those who fear Him, but in those who hope in His steadfast love. So to fear and hope in God go hand in hand when it comes to the Lord taking pleasure in us. How do faith and hope relate to each other? Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

When it comes to the biblical meaning of faith and hope, these are not blind leaps into the dark or wishful thinking of a particular outcome. Biblical faith is confidence in the trustworthiness of God, and hope is the most solid possible conviction. I want to encourage God’s people to be a people who takes joy in fearing the Lord because we can have faith that God takes pleasure and delights in those who fear Him and hope in His steadfast love.


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