The writer of Psalm 34 declares that he will instruct on "the fear of the Lord" (11). He will describe how such fear is obtained. "Fear," far from being a word that we often associate with being scared, means to understand God in all his holiness and to approach him with the awe and respect such a holy one deserves. This is why learning how to fear the Lord leads to a discussion about desiring long life, many days, and goodness within those days (12). There is a connection between holy fear and holy living.
Yet, the writer then states several practical ways "fear of the Lord" can be observed: keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit; turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (13-14). But how do these actions square with the idea that God desires a response within our hearts? If we look closely, we realize that these are actions that originate with a proper internal view of God. As Jesus said, "What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person" (Matthew 15:18). On another occasion he taught that we will know a tree by the fruit it bears (Matthew 7:15-20); the results are borne out by the roots. Further, he accused the hypocrites of being white-washed tombs: clean and attractive on the outside, but filthy on the inside (Matthew 23:27-28).
Fear of the Lord begins with a humble heart before him. This is where righteousness is found.
A reward from God is promised for those who are righteous; they will be delivered (15-18). The righteous are those who are pure before God inwardly. Our heart health is what matters most to God. Deeds done to please him without seeking to obey him from the heart are empty and meaningless; a healthy heart based on fear of the Lord is what God finds pleasing and rewards.