The word “fear” in the TaNaKH (OT) is the Hebrew word “yaray.” It is true that the word must be understood from context. Sometimes it refers to reverence or respect, etc. (Lev. 19:3), and sometimes it refers to worry or deep concern, etc. (Ex. 15:16).
In the Hebrew way of interacting with the scriptures, yaray is a essentially an emotion that motivates a person towards an action, a driving force in a person’s life to help them make a decision on something. Basically, yaray describes the volition of a person, because the same emotions can drive two different people in two different directions. The challenge for us is to allow our “yaray” to move us in the direction that God says is right and best for us.
Since the topic is “fear,” let’s see this in action in a few verses from Deuteronomy. (Mouse over to read the passage)
Deut. 1:21 – Fear would either keep ancient Isra'el from going into the Land of promise, or overcoming fear—by trusting in God—would move them to go into the Land.
Deut. 6:2 – Fear in this verse motivates God’s people to keep all his statutes and commandments, with a promise to prolong their lives. This fear could be reverence, or it could also be fear of God withholding his blessing if one disobeys his commandments.
Deut. 10:12 – Fear in this verse can actually function as a metonym, that is, a word which plays the role of a stand-in for another closely related word (similar to a synonym). Fear in this verse is actually closely linked to “walk,” “love,” and “serve” God as Deut. 10:12 hints at by putting “fear,” “walk,” “love,” and “serve” all in the same mix of actions and emotions experienced and taken together as a comprehensive whole. I really like this verse because, as the original question suggested, this verse uses the word “fear” and the word “love” in the same verse, both with God’s intent to motivate us towards genuine fidelity and loyalty to him alone as our God.
I will close with my person favorite verse of the Bible that uses the word “yaray”:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!”
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