In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death. (Proverbs 14:26–27—NKJV)

Is there such a thing as a “healthy fear?” Of course there is. Counted among the healthy fears of life are the fear of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the fear of taking bad advice, the fear of letting your best friend down, and the fear of rejection by God on the great Day of Judgment. These fears are healthy because, when honoring these fears, we change our steps and avoid destructive results.

In our text, the destructive results are described as “the snares of death.” Picture the trapper setting his traps. He knows the nature of his quarry. He knows its habits and haunts. He selects places of concealment, cunningly crafts disguises for his machines, and sets to work with the hopeful expectation that he will catch his prey and dispatch it at his leisure.

The snare is like leg traps used by hunters, or like a fowler’s snare which is triggered to spring up and enfold unsuspecting birds at the slightest pressure. You can picture the futile efforts of the entrapped to extricate himself before the arrival of the hunter—but to no avail. When the hunter appears, his prey’s end is sealed. Healthy fears are to be valued and honored, for by a healthy dose of fear, you can avoid dire consequences.

The way of man is fraught with danger and, for this reason, the Bible is the source of wisdom for living because it promotes the fear of the Lord. Our text speaks of the fear of the Lord in three descriptive ways.

In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence. These two words complement each other by indicating a level of increased security, not unlike the choice of a password. All passwords offer some security, but some are more effective than others. Certain characteristics of some passwords make them exceptionally strong. Confidence in God is trusting, confiding confidence which allows you to be secure without fear, for He is unlimited might. The fear of the Lord is where His children have a place of refuge. This is a place of strong shelter, like a castle keep. It is a rock-like stronghold of protection and retreat. To fear God is to flee to Him as the only source of hope and security.

Not only is the fear of the Lord that which provides the ultimate confidence and security, but it is the fountain of life. Healthy fear of God which guides righteous behavior is a perpetual spring of hope, refreshment, sufficiency, and solace. In fact, the fear of God bubbles forth unto life.

To fear God is to relate to Him, and therefore to all of your life, with an attention to reverential detail. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10); it is the conclusion of every human’s purpose on this earth (Ecclesiastes 12:13); and it is the fitting atmosphere for a healthy church (Acts 9:31). You need to revere God by walking in uprightness (Proverbs 14:2), as one who lives in the presence of his Superior. Revere Him for His superior authority, superior power, superior sacrificial love, superior wisdom, and His superior plan for your life. Fearing God is exchanging your self-interest for His interests. By doing so you will avoid the “pleasant” by-paths which are strewn with the snares of death (Proverbs 14:12).

Have you a healthy fear of dying in your sin, and so have you trusted in the shed blood of Jesus Christ as your righteousness before a holy God? Are you walking securely in the fear of the Lord by maintaining a reverential awe in humble obedience? Trust and obey.