Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

Dave Gifford

READ : Proverbs 9:10-12

As a child, I was frightened of God. I occasionally approached God sheepishly to beg him for something. But most of the time my fear told me, “Keep your distance or he will blast you with lightning!”

Many people try to soften the blow of today’s reading. They say, “It doesn’t mean literal fear, it means respect.” But the word “respect” has lost some of its force. We can even respect an opinion without agreeing with it! I think the following explanation is more helpful.

There is the universal fear that causes us to run

away from

that which we fear, such as snakes. But there is also another fear, one which causes us to run


the one we fear. We know that ignoring the expert advice of a doctor or a lawyer could be dangerous or even fatal. So we rush to them, pay them well, and comply with their every word. Our lives are in their hands, and we fear disobeying them.

Fear of God is this fear. Our lives are in God’s hands. Heeding his word is our only protection against the deadly forces of evil. Fear of God does not send us cowering in terror. It is a fear that drives us to God’s sheltering arms, a fear of forfeiting the blessings he offers us, a fear of disappointing the God we love.


Lord, we race to you in love and fear. To whom else shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life. Amen.