Many times when reading the Bible, I’m struck by how fearful people were to approach their king. I can hardly understand it! Nehemiah, who served the king every day, was “very much afraid” to answer the king’s question. Queen Esther (as in the wife of the king) feared for her life when she approached her own husband without being invited. David feared King Saul. The Wise Men feared King Herod. And on and on it goes…
Kings were fearsome because they held the power of life and death in their hands. They could bless you or curse you—and their word was final. Therefore, it was appropriate to fear the king.
Today, however, we don’t have kings in the traditional sense (at least not in America). We are a nation without a sovereign—and always have been—a people unacquainted with fear of a king. Perhaps that is why (at least in part) we’ve become a people unacquainted with fear of the Lord—the King of all kings.
In Hebrew, the word for fear yirat when attached to Yahweh (the Lord) means “to reverence, to respect, or to honor God as God.” Yet, often I find myself approaching God with a sense of flippancy that lacks any reverence at all. Instead of treating Him like a King, I treat him like a buddy who tags along throughout my day. I justify my actions, of course, by pulling out scriptures like Hebrews 4:16 that says we can approach the throne boldly. But boldly isn’t the same as flippantly.
To harness an appropriate fear of the Lord, we must gain an accurate understanding of who God is and who we are in relation to Him. In simplest terms: He is the King and we are not. He deserves our respect, our reverence and our praise.
In closing, I’d like to share a favorite work of poetry that masterfully captures the essence of who our King really is: “That’s My King” by S. M. Lockeridge.