Listen: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Good question!  Let’s look at two passages, including the one you referred to. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Proverbs 1:26-27 reads, “I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.” According to the Strong’s Concordance, the word “fear” in the first passage means “reverence.” In the second passage the word “fear” means “terror.” That’s quite a difference in meaning, and with good reason. Proverbs 9:10 is teaching us that we should have a “reverence” for the Lord, for He is an awesome God and we should stand in awe of Him. To do so is indeed “the beginning of wisdom.” If one doesn’t have reverence for the Lord, they will one day experience God’s holy wrath because of their sins and be filled with “terror.” This is what we learn in Proverbs 1:26-27.

Now let’s consider passages from the New Testament. In 1 Peter 1:17 we read, “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.” Here too the word “fear” means, according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, a “reverential fear of God.” If we know God as our Father, we should continually give Him the reverence He deserves as we journey toward our heavenly home. This attitude of reverence will also keep us from sinning, for the word fear also has in it the thought of the “fear of displeasing Him.” Hebrews 10:26-27 provides us with an example of the other meaning of fear; it reads, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” If one rejects the sacrifice Christ made on the cross for their sins, they should be filled with “terror” as they anticipate the judgment that is coming.

You mentioned how God is “loving and caring.” Yes, He is! Let’s close our meditations with 1 John 4:16-18, “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves judgment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (NASB). As we abide in God’s love, we will experience no “terror” as we consider the Day of Judgment, for His “perfect love casts out fear.” Praise the Lord for this!  (149.3)  (DO)