Fearing or Afraid

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There is a vast difference between “the fear of the Lord” and being afraid of God, but the difference gets blurred in many people’s private moments of wondering what God is like. Small children often form misconceptions from adults’ insensitive remarks, from the attitude that envelops the words “the fear of the Lord” in ominous mystery.

How can one, instead of shrinking away from thoughts about “the fear of the Lord,” desire to experience the richness of what God means his children to have in this important area of our relationship with him? For me, Psalm 147 is a place to start.

“Praise ye the Lord,” the psalmist begins, and he tells us it is good, pleasant, and appropriate for us to praise the Lord. He then gives us a pattern of praise that lists specific things which the Lord does for his people. Reading this should cause in us a rush of praise and thanksgiving as water rushes through a break in a dam.

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds”: this is the first reminder of why we should praise the Lord. God cares about brokenhearted, wounded members of his family. This dear Father looks for the proper gauze and ointment to bind up the wounds, whether they are psychological, spiritual, emotional wounds, or physical.

Next we are reminded of his fantastic knowledge, as we are told that he not only knows how many stars there are but has a name for each one of them! Those who study the stars are in awe of the endless number, and of the time it takes to learn the names of the few that men can distinguish and name—but God knows them all.

The next verse speaks with trumpet notes: “Great is our LORD, and of great power: His understanding is infinite.” This infinitely great One understands us. Our little fears, ...

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