The Fear of the Lord!

Psalm 111:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
a good understanding have all those who practice it.

“The fear of the Lord” is one of those phrases that get tossed around quite a bit.  To Christians it is often almost content-free.  It is one of those “religious things” we are supposed to say.  To non-believers, it is Exhibit A in the claim that belief in God is really just a sort of bargain for sucking up to the universe with flattery in the superstitious hope that, if we cringe and scrape enough, the Great and Terrible Oz in the Sky will have his vanity appeased sufficiently to let us pass another day of miserable existence before he capriciously smashes us for his sport.  In fact, however, the phrase is neither a buzzword, nor a squeak of servile terror.  Rather, it is the sane assessment of a man or a woman standing in the presence of the Love that hurled all the galaxies.  Before such love, we say, with Rat in _The Wind and Willows_, “Afraid?  Of him? Oh no!  Never!  And yet… Oh I am afraid!”  Indeed, a God who did not inspire something like fear in us is no God.  But a God who inspired only fear is no God either.  That is why the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom—-but not the end.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage