For a long time I’ve been dissatisfied with my ability to adequately explain the word fear in the concept “the fear of God.” For those who misunderstand this idea, what comes to their mind is repugnant, and many Christians, also misunderstanding, apologize for the term and try to explain it away.
But just now studying Psalm 51 for my class, Exegesis of Selected Psalms, I have come across a great explanation of the fear of God.
The human correlate of the holiness of God is the fear of God. However, the fear of God is not a terror which drains away the vitality of the divine-human relationship. The fear of God and the awareness of the holy presence has a “mysterious power of attraction which is converted into wonder, obedience, self-surrender, and enthusiasm” (Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, II, 270).— Tate, Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51 – 100, p. 24