I agree that it is most useful to try to understand how the original text would have been understood by the original audience. Usually around here the Bible is primarily understood in terms of our current circumstances and perspectives.
That word "fear" CAN BE translated as respect or reverence, but could just as easily be translated as denoting fear, the condition of being afraid, fear concerning one's moral condition, exceedingly afraid, in dread and awe of something, or fearful.
Proverbs 9:10 also includes "the knowledge of the holy" as a parallel to "the fear of the Lord". If we understand the true nature of holiness, and understand our nature as depraved humans, we would understand that unholiness cannot exist in the presence of holiness, but is consumed by it's burning righteous light and fire. God in His mercy has NOT dealt so with us, but it is something to be taken into consideration. Ultimately, it is because the all-consuming holiness of the Lord that a mediator and sacrifice was necessary. Actually, we still need that mediator (I know you this, I just didn't want to leave it out - don't feel like I'm insulting your intelligence).