“Friendship with the lord is reserved for those who fear him, with them he shares the secrets of his covenant” Psalm 25:14 ESV
Wait, so in order to be friends with God and for him to share his heart with us, we have to be scared of Him? Let’s take a closer look at what it actually means to fear the Lord.
Very rarely do we connect friendship with fear; however, here, scripture is telling us that they directly intertwine with one another. This can be better understood by knowing that the Hebrew word used here for fear is actually a term of reverence rather than fear as we think of it. Think of God as a holy fire. Being afraid of the fire would cause you to draw back and run the other direction in fear. Being scared results in timidity. The beauty and power of a fire draws you in closer with awe and wonder. Holy fear results in great reverence and unwavering obedience.
Biblical fear of the Lord is illustrated so well through Abraham in Genesis 22. At this time, God has fulfilled his promise to him and his wife Sarah with the blessing of their only son Isaac. After receiving this promised child from God, Abraham is told to sacrifice his precious son as a burnt offering. Without hesitation, the very next morning, he set out for the place God had told him about to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham had built an altar, arrange the wood, tied his son on top, and raised his knife with every intention to sacrifice his dearly loved son to God. It was at that very moment that the angel of the Lord stops him, saying, “for now I know that you truly fear God.”
The result of fearing the Lord is complete surrender and obedience to follow the desires and the will of God. Abraham trusted God and obeyed even when he did not understand, even when it hurt him, and even when he saw no direct benefit to himself. His heart was simply postured in trust and reverence. So, the question lies ahead of us—How far are we willing to follow?
So, how does friendship tie into this? Continuing in Genesis 22, now at verse 13, the Lord provides Abraham a ram as a sacrificed burnt offering in place of his son. It was here that God revealed himself in a new way to Abraham as a provider and revealed to him His plan to multiply his descendants. Jesus tells us in John 15:14-15, “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” As friends of God, He shows us his ways. When we live out of fear of the Lord, it reveals to him our loyalty and He is able to confidently say, “This is someone I can trust, reveal myself to, and share my heart with.” However, before God was able to reveal himself to Abraham, he first tested his fear.
The connection between fear and friendship with God is powerful. While it is the amazing love of God that captivates us, it is the fear of the Lord that really captures us and allows us intimacy with God. It is between the solid borders of God’s love and holiness that true friendship is found.