Fearing the Lord
Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) -- The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
“He is too smart to be that dumb.” Have you ever said something similar to this? I have said this on many occasions. The “he” could be replaced with a “she,” and each could be replaced with a name of somebody. Whenever I’ve made a statement like this, I’m always referring to a foolish or unwise decision (or group of decisions) somebody has made.
These unwise decisions can include everything from mishandling finances to taking bad relationship advice. In each case that I've scratched my head and wondered why someone has chosen to act or live the way they do, it's because they have displayed a lack of knowledge and wisdom.
Our text today captures why this happens. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” It is the fear of the LORD that produces knowledge and wisdom. But what does that mean? Does this mean that we should be scared of God? No, not in the sense of hiding from Him. But there is a healthy fear of God that doesn’t trifle with him. I feared my father growing up. Not in a frightened kind of way, but in the kind of way that knew there were limits to how smart-mouthed or disobedient I could be. Why? Because I knew he wouldn’t tolerate it. In that sense, I had a fear of him that regulated my behavior. We should definitely fear God in such a way that we recognize His holiness and righteousness and do not trifle with obeying Him.
The other sense we should fear God is to have a holy reverence and awe of Him. We should recognize He is not like us. He holds the entire universe on His “pinky.” Obviously, God doesn’t have a pinky (or a hand for that matter), but the idea is that He is so beyond our scope in size, power, presence, and knowledge. We should stand in awe of that.
When we adopt this posture before the LORD, we are on our way to growing in wisdom and knowledge. Why? Because we grow in knowledge about the world when we know and obey the One who created that world. Fools are the ones who live outside the wisdom God has revealed about His universe. Seek to know the LORD, obey His ways, and you will walk in wisdom and knowledge.
Reflection & Journal:
- What are the different ways of understanding the fear of the LORD?
- Why does fear of the LORD produce knowledge and wisdom?
- How can you grow in your fear of the LORD?