So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35)
Professor Eugene Merrill from the Dallas Theological Seminary tells us that fear of God or manifestations of the divine are a subcategory of “fear” throughout the Bible. So, in addition to “fear” as dread or terror, “fear” meaning reverential awe, worshipful, and respect dominates biblical passages. Everything must be read in context.
David and Solomon agreed that it is God alone we should fear in the sense of having an awed respect. Perhaps they discussed it often, as the biblical passages below suggest.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. (Psalms 111:10)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
William Eisenhower of the Fuller Theological Seminary nicely describes the fear/respect paradigm. “As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me…. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless.”
“Fear of the Lord,” he agrees, “is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.”
For the believer, the fear of God is not the irrational fear of the unknown, but a reverent fear of (respect for) the One who lovingly revealed himself in the creation of his universe, and the recreation of mankind through the death of his Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe. (Isaiah 8:13-14)