The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
I wonder if this is where you think knowledge begins, with fear? It is an extraordinary statement, but it is one which is made throughout the Bible. Right at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes we read: “the end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) The whole duty.
Ah, you might be thinking, that’s just the Old Testament. Wrong! Listen to Jesus “but I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:5). Listen too to what was said about the earliest church: “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied” (Acts 9:31). This is no teaching we can ignore, it is woven into the Bible and comes from the lips of Jesus himself.
So what is the fear of God? It is a reverence and humility before the one who made you, and holds your future in his hands. It is walking though life aware of his presence within you, and seeking to live in accordance with his will for you. It is honouring God, and approaching him with awe. It is knowing that he is the one who will judge, and who cannot be ignored.
It is more, though. It is knowing that this one who is to be feared is the one who sent his Son to save you. The one who, when he draws near, says: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
Oh, the more we understand the fear of God the more we wonder at his kindness to us. Surely that is beginning of wisdom.