Honor is humbling myself in the presence of a God-given authority and expressing my devotion with an appropriate gift.
Honor also involves reverence. One Greek word for honor is timao. It means “to prize, i.e. fix a value upon, by implication to revere.” Scripture provides a significant list of those whom we are to reverence and honor.
A primary Hebrew word for reverence is shachah. It denotes “to depress, i.e. to prostrate in homage to royalty or God,” and is also translated as bow (self) down, crouch, fall down (flat), humbly beseech, do (make) obeisance, make to stoop, and worship.
Jonathan’s lame son, Mephibosheth, “fell on his face, and did reverence [shachah]” (II Samuel 9:6). “Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence [shachah] to the king” (I Kings 1:31).
Shachah is translated worship in Joshua 5:14: “Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship [shachah]” the captain of the host of the Lord. Shachah is also translated worship in Psalm 95:6: “O come, let us worship [shachah] and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.”
True reverence and the fear of the Lord are closely associated. The Hebrew word yare’ is translated as both fear and reverence: “Ye shall … reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 19:30). “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts” (Psalm 119:63).
Reverence and Respect
In addition to reverence, worship, and honor, the concept of respect must be considered. One Greek word for respect is apoblepo, which means “to look away from everything else, i.e. (fig.) intently regard.” This word is used to describe how Moses looked steadfastly (apoblepo) at the “recompence of the reward” and therefore was able to accept the reproaches of Christ as of greater value than all the treasures of Egypt. (See Hebrews 11:26.) In contrast, Esau failed to reverence his birthright and therefore sold it for a bowl of pottage.
The Key to Reverence
Sincere reverence for people grows out of a proper fear of the Lord, since He is the One Who created all men and established structures of authority. There are actually three aspects of the fear of the Lord, as indicated by three Hebrew and Greek words. Each aspect involves a progressive understanding and reverence for the ways of God and His dealings with mankind.
First Aspect: Fear of Punishment
All people should have this level of fear.
- Because God sent wild lions among them in Samaria, the king appointed a priest to teach the people to fear (yare’) the Lord, but still they did not turn from their idols. (See II Kings 17:24–36.)
- Daniel prayed to the great and dreadful (yare’) God Who kept His word. (See Daniel 9:2–4.)
- The people of Israel feared (yare’) God when they saw the Egyptian army perish in the Red Sea. (See Exodus 14:31.)
- Devout (eulabes) men of every nation reverenced God. (See Acts 2:5.)
Second Aspect: Fear of Causing Shame
This is fear that motivates Godly action.
- Abraham offered Isaac on the altar: “Now I know that thou fearest (yare’) God” (Genesis 22:12).
- Joseph told his brothers he feared (yare’) God and sent them home to his father. (See Genesis 42:18.)
- Pharaoh’s servants who feared (yare’) God sought protection from the hail. (See Exodus 9:20.)
- Men who feared (yare’) the Lord were to be appointed rulers in Israel. (See Exodus 18:21.)
- Job was “a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth (yare’) God, and escheweth evil” (Job 1:8).
- Hezekiah feared (yare’) the Lord and sought Him. (See Jeremiah 26:19.)
- Because Jonah feared (yare’) God, he told the sailors to throw him overboard to calm the storm. (See Jonah 1:9, 12.)
- Noah prepared an ark, being moved with fear (eulabeomai), and saved his household. (See Hebrews 11:7.)
Third Aspect: Fear of Losing Intimacy With God
This fear is a dread of losing an intimate relationship with God.
- “I will put my fear (yir’ah) in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me” (Jeremiah 32:40).
- David stated, “He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear (yir’ah) of God” (II Samuel 23:3).
- David said to God, “I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear [yir’ah] will I worship” (Psalm 5:7).
- “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear [yir’ah] of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear [yir’ah] of the LORD” (Isaiah 11:2–3).
- “… Whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (eulabeia)” (Hebrews 12:28).
- Do you have a continual awareness that God is watching all that you think, say, and do?
- Have you bowed the knee to Jesus Christ and proclaimed that He is your Lord?
- As the temple of the Holy Spirit, do you treat your body with respect?
- Would your parents say that you fully and sincerely honor them?
- Do you respect government authorities as ministers of God for your good?
- Do you view your employer as an instrument through whom God is working in your life?
- Do you spend the Lord’s Day delighting in Him rather than in your own pursuits?