Do you fear the Lord?

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Scripture: 1 Chronicles 13:7 (God’s people) carried the ark of God on a new cart, from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio were driving the cart. David and all Israel were dancing before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets. When they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to hold the ark, for the oxen shook it. 10 The anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark; and he died there before God. 11 David was angry because the Lord had burst out against Uzzah; so that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. 12 David was afraid of God that day; he said, “How can I bring the ark of God into my care?”

Observation: David was described by God in the book of Acts as “a man after my own heart”. David was far from perfect, but he genuinely loved the Lord and did his very best to live in accordance with the will and ways of God. That said, v.11 tells us “David was angry because the Lord had burst out against Uzzah”. Then v.12 says “David was afraid of God that day”. Who could blame him? Uzzah acted in good faith to steady the ark yet was killed for it. Why? Because, according to the law, he was not among the designated people with permission to touch it. Pretty harsh stuff. No doubt it was episodes like this one that inspired what scripture refers to as, “the fear of the Lord”.

Application: Do you possess what might be called “fear of the Lord”? I’m not sure how to answer that question. I don’t think I fear the Lord in the way David did, probably because I haven’t been witness to immediate “cause and effect” situations like the one described in our passage. Maybe I should fear the Lord more.

But then I remember how Jesus taught his disciples to pray, beginning with the words “Our Father in heaven”. The English translation doesn’t do justice to the original language word for Father, “Abba” – which means something more like “Daddy” or “Papa”. It’s a term of endearment as a child to a parent. There is an implied intimacy and affection that doesn’t seem (to me) to line up well with one who has “the fear of the Lord”.

Perhaps the answer is not to choose between “fear of the Lord” and knowing God as “Abba”, but to embrace them both. I’ve learned many times that there is risk when we veer from the ways of God. It usually doesn’t end well, which should give us respect for obeying the Lord. Does that constitute fear? I don’t know.

That said, I will choose to err on the side of understanding God as “Abba”. I need an Abba much more than a God to be feared. Not sure that’s the right way to go about it, but that’s where I am this morning.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us grace to embrace you as Abba – and yet to have a profound respect for you and the life-giving nature of your ways. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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