“But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
The fear of the Lord is a poorly understood concept even among His people. This is quite simply because we think about fear only in a single sense: terror. To be afraid of something isn’t good. Thus, while perhaps we should fear the Lord because we’re told to do so over and over and over again in the Scriptures, this isn’t something that ultimately draws us closer to Him. We fear Him so that we’ll do what He says. Once we develop the pattern of doing what He says, then we begin to grow closer to Him, at which point we don’t need to fear Him any longer. The logic here seems just about airtight…and it’s just about completely wrong.
While our fear of the Lord should include a note of terror given that He could blink us out of existence with a thought, this is not the biggest part of it. The fear of the Lord throughout the Scriptures has more than anything else to do with having a healthy respect for who God is and relating to Him in light of this recognition of His character.
What the psalmist writes here points rather insistently in this direction. He tells us that one of the things which should point us to fear the Lord is the fact that with Him there is forgiveness. Wait, isn’t forgiveness a good thing? It sure is, and that’s the point. His character–all of it–should draw us to respect Him and love Him and come to a deeper relationship with Him from out of that respect, or fear.
So, fear the Lord. Recognize His power and might and terrible glory. But respect and love Him because He is good. It’s all the same idea.