This devotional series examines a verse or two from each chapter of Proverbs each day of January 2017.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~Proverbs 1:7
The opening verses of Proverbs give the reason why it’s important to understand the sayings of wise, God-honoring men and women who have gone before us in life. This little section concludes with 1:7 and a reminder that true knowledge comes from God.
When we ponder the depths of God as he has revealed himself in the Bible, his written word to us, we learn that he is the only self-existent being (highlighted by the name he spoke to Moses: YHWH, related to the Hebrew expression I am), the creator of all things, perfectly good and the definer of all that is good and just and true, all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever faithful. These just begin to scratch the surface of the many attributes that make God awesome.
God, then, is the source of all knowledge, and the one who without fail distinguishes between what is true and what is false. So, it would make sense that we would look to him for knowledge.
No, the Bible is not a math book or a science book or an exhaustive history of the world, but the Bible lays the foundation for all of these things by showing us a well-ordered creation that points further to the One who created it. So, we look to God.
What does it mean to “fear” the Lord, then? For mankind in our “natural” state after the rebellion and fall into sin in Genesis 3, we should (though we often don’t) fear God’s judgment. We’ve rebelled against the One who defines all that is good, right, and true. We deserve punishment. Yet, God, being both just and loving, gave us Jesus to pay for our sins and restore us to be God’s sons and daughters as opposed to sinful rebels.
If that is where we are now, then to “fear” the Lord is no longer about the punishment that flows from God’s wrath (1 John 4:16-19). Rather, it is about our worship of God in respect and awe. It is about gazing at the greatness and glory of God and letting our wonder drive us to sing his praise, hear his word, and follow his commands. It is about seeing God as the greatest good and understanding that his ways will lead us to eternal good.
This fear leads us to the knowledge we need to live for Jesus each day.