Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens that cry. He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.
When we think of a natural king and the soldiers under his military command, we might have certain expectations. Doubtless, the king himself would have expectations of those who desire to fight for him. Those soldiers must be qualified in various ways. They must have certain physical abilities or at least the potential to learn or gain those abilities. They also need to have a certain mental acuity in order to understand military strategy. It certainly matters which strengths and skills they can bring to the table. The earthly king chooses soldiers based on what they can do, but our heavenly King chooses much differently. There is something He holds at a higher value than what we can do for him.
Of course God takes no delight in the strength of a horse or the legs of a man. Of course God is not impressed with what we or the beasts can do. He does not choose us based on our intelligence, physical strength or speed. God does not separate us by those who are more capable and those who are less. He wants soldiers and priests who bring him pleasure, and we must fear him to do so. This fear that He wants from us is not only a healthy respect for him but also an understanding of true terror. If man upon man has fallen to the ground in terror at the appearance of a mere angel, how much more would we be terrified at the full and unfiltered presence of the living God. It certainly would be a moment of fear.
If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then we know that we cannot come to know him without it. A common theme throughout scripture is that of God taking us in our inadequate state and making us adequate. He is the one who makes us wise, strong and faithful. He is the one who equips us for every good work we are to do for his glory. If we want to impress him, if we want to gain his favor, it will not be by what we do in our own strength and ability. It will be by fearing him and hoping in what we will gain through his mercy. Father, teach us what it is to truly fear You, and help us to live lives which illustrate that right fear every day.