Project 119: Isaiah 8:11-17

 |  Project 119  |  Dr. Kely Hatley

“The Fear of the Lord”

Yesterday we talked about fear in the negative sense of the word. The Bible often tells us to fear the Lord. What does it mean to fear God? The first reaction is to the word for most of us is a fear that causes us to be scared or frightened. Yet, there is another interpretation of the word “fear” that fits better in correlation with God. Martin Luther, famed father of the Protestant Reformation, “distinguished between what he called a ‘servile’ fear and a ‘filial’ fear.”1 A servile interpretation of fear is one that a person might feel toward someone who is out to do him harm, such as a captor or harsh guard. On the other hand, a filial interpretation of fear is one of family and respect. It is the type of fear that a child might have toward a parent. A child has a healthy respectful and awe-filled fear of his parent because he loves and wants to please the parent. The child doesn’t want to disappoint the parent, the source of his security and love. This is the type of fear Isaiah had toward God and that we too should strive for. 

God was instructing Isaiah not to follow the ways of Judah. Their fear of their allied neighbors was the servile fear. God warned Isaiah not to “fear what they fear.” Rather, he should fear the Lord (in the filial sense of the word) and know that the Lord will be a sanctuary, a place of security, for the person who stands firm with God. In Matthew Henry’s commentary on these verses, he states, “If we thought rightly of the greatness and glory of God, we should see all the power of our enemies restrained.”2 I love that interpretation for the truth that it exudes. God is above all and able to handle even our most difficult enemies. In the end of the passage Isaiah claims that truth in verse 17. He states that He will wait for the Lord and put his trust in Him.

What is your enemy today? Do you fear it (servile) more than you fear (filial) God? The Lord is a sanctuary to those who put their trust in Him. Where do you fall this day?

1 [1] Taken from|%20National; accessed 8-8-17.

2 Taken from; accessed 8-8-17.

Isaiah 8:11-17 (ESV):

11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. 14 And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 15 And many shall stumble on it. They shall fall and be broken; they shall be snared and taken.”

16 Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. 17 I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.