Fearing God

This morning I read some interesting comments regarding the book of Job that impressed upon me once again that the Biblical phrase “fear of God” doesn’t mean “fearing what God might to do to me.”

Job loses all the things that we tend to think make life valuable: possessions, family, and health. He goes from the man who has it all to the man who has nothing. His wife suggests that he curse God and die, since after all what is the point of living for God if this is what it gets you.

But through Job we learn the following lesson:

It is no good being a fair-weather friend; true relationship is sustained through the hard times as well as the good times. Indeed, if one reflects on all that Job has been through, then it is appropriate to depict his relationship with God in time-honored and hallowed language: “for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health.” These marriage vows both describe and constitute true relationship. Job’s integrity/fear of God has the dynamics of true love. It thereby becomes fully clear that the content of “fear of God” is far from being “afraid of God and the consequences he may exact”–for the worst that could happen to Job has happened, and he sustains his fear of God regardless.

The whole story of Job is built around the premise that Job’s relationship with God is not self-serving. He is not “in it” for what he might get “out of it.” He is in it no matter what he gets out of it, because Yahweh is his God. That’s the real significance of the phrase “the fear of God.”