Question: "What does the Bible say about fear?"

The Bible has quite a bit to say about fear. In fact it mentions two specific types of fear. The first type is beneficial and is to be encouraged. The second type is a detriment and is to be not only discouraged, but overcome. The first type of fear is fear of the Lord. This type of fear is not necessarily fear that means to be afraid of something. Rather it is a reverential awe of God; a reverence for His power and glory. However, it is also proper respect for His wrath and anger. In other words, it is a total acknowledgement of all that God is which comes through knowing Him and all His attributes.

Fear of the Lord brings with it many blessings and benefits. In Psalm 111:10 it says, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do [his commandments]: his praise endureth for ever.” And in Proverbs 1:7 it says, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Thus we see how both wisdom and knowledge begin with fear of the Lord.

Furthermore, in Proverbs 19:23 it says, “The fear of the LORD [tendeth] to life: and [he that hath it] shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.” And again in Proverbs 14:27, “The fear of the LORD [is] a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.” And in Proverbs 14:26 it states, “In the fear of the LORD [is] strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.” In these verses we see that fear of the Lord provides life, security for your children, protection from evil, confidence, and satisfaction.

Thus one can see how fear of the Lord should be encouraged. However, the second type of fear mentioned in the Bible is not beneficial and should be not only discouraged but overcome. This is the “spirit of fear” mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:7 where it says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Thus we see right from the beginning that this “spirit of fear” does not come from God.

However, sometimes we are afraid, sometimes this “spirit of fear” overcomes us, and to overcome this fear we need to trust in and love God completely. It says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” However, no one is perfect, and God knows this. So He has liberally sprinkled encouragement against fear throughout the Bible. Beginning in the Book of Genesis and continuing throughout the Book of Revelations God tells us to “Fear not.”

For example it says in Isaiah 41:10, “Fear thou not; for I [am] with thee: be not dismayed; for I [am] thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” And again in Daniel 10:12, “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” And in the New Testament Jesus says, Mat 10:31, “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Just these few verses cover many different types of fear. God tells us not to be afraid of being alone, not to be afraid of being too weak, not to be afraid of not being heard, and not to be afraid for our physical necessities. And these “fear not” admonishments continue throughout the Bible covering the many different aspects of the “spirit of fear.”

However, these “fear nots” are dependent upon our ability to put our trust and faith in the Lord. In Psalm 56:11 the psalmist writes, “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.” This is an awesome testimony to the power of trusting in God. What the psalmist is saying is that regardless of what happens, he will trust in God. This is the key to overcoming fear - total and complete trust in God.

It is a refusal to give into fear. It is a turning to God even in the darkest times and trusting in God to make things right. This trust comes from knowing God and knowing that He is a good God who only wants to give His children good things. It is as Job said when he was experiencing some of the most difficult trials recorded in the Bible, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him (Job 13:15).”

Once you have learned to put your trust in God you will no longer be afraid of the things that come against you. You will be like the psalmist and, “…let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee" (Psalm 5:11).