The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.
Whatever the fear of the Lord means, it seems clear that the Bible recommends it. Perhaps we can safely say that the Bible says that a right relationship with God is both a source of life and protection from death.
It is common for people to begin explaining the fear of the Lord by saying it doesn't mean being afraid of God. I'm not sure what I think about it. I agree that's it's more complex than a single emotion of trembling at the power of God, considering how powerless we are before him, but I don't think it's less than that.
Many describe the fear of the Lord as respect, which makes sense to me. But why do you respect something? Isn't it because you think it is powerful? Isn't it because of it's potential to help or harm you?
A friend described fear as "cautious handling of something something precious, yet delicate, which with ruder handling might easily be broken," which I think is another element of respect. That element of care seems also to be part of what it means to fear God. When he speaks, you listen. When he commands, you obey.
That certainly makes sense in the context of this verse, which claims that fear of God will end well for us. When we pay attention to him and obey his commands, we will be living a full life. When we ignore him, we will stumble into difficult, painful, deathly situations.
It is such an important point that obedience to God is not at odds with our happiness, nor is it unrelated to our happiness. It is, in fact, the way to happiness. There is a beautiful unity between what God wants us to do and what will make us happy. They are the same thing.
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3
I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.