The value of learning to fear the Lord is seen in the key role it plays in the hands-on book of Proverbs. The thematic statement of Proverbs is, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 31:30). This statement flies like a standard over the territory of Proverbs as if to say, “Anyone who walks these paths of wisdom must first know the wonder of its Builder.” Insightful living begins with the right understanding of the Lord.
To “fear the Lord” is to know that no one is His equal. He is “the Lord,” or Yahweh, which means He is the eternally existent One (used nearly 100 times in Proverbs). He is without beginning or end. In addition, Yahweh is God’s covenant name to His people, as the great I AM He is their deliverer, Law-giver and provider. No other counselor can boast such power and love.
Proverbs 9:10 adds another aspect when it says,
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10)
The fear of the Lord is synonymous with knowing the Holy One. To know the Lord as the Holy One is to see that He is completely transcendent in all His abilities, and superlative in all His character. No man in all his strength, education, and wealth can begin to approximate the breathtaking nature of the Lord (Jer. 9:23-24).
When we begin to see the Lord as Yahweh, the Holy One, all other voices fall into hushed silence. This is the beginning place of wisdom.
Surprisingly however, Proverbs teaches that “the fear of the Lord” is not only the starting block in the race for wisdom, but it is also the finish line. All true wisdom has as its goal a deeper reverence for God. The second chapter of Proverbs presents the pursuit of wisdom in dramatic language.
“My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.” (Prov. 2:1-5; see 15:33)
The “fear of the Lord” lies at the beginning and end of a passionate search for wisdom. That is why seeking the Lord is the wisest thing you will ever do. The more you know Him, the more wisdom you will discover. The more wisdom you discover, the greater you will know Him. The resulting vortex draws one closer and closer to a true understanding of God and life.
Depart From Evil. Sin begins to have a growing repugnancy in contrast to the Holy One. “To fear the Lord is to hate evil.” (Prov. 8:13; also 3:7; 14:16; 16:6). In a sinful world it is easy to be desensitized to its effects, but when we adopt God’s view our hearts begin to experience pain and horror when we see or hear evil.
Live With Integrity. The “fear of the Lord” drives us not only to shun evil, but embrace integrity. “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord, but he who is devious in his ways despises Him.” (Prov. 14:2). The word “uprightness” means, “honesty, transparency.” When your greatest concern is what the Lord knows of you, and He knows it all, there is no place for a secret life (Gen. 39:9). What you project is who you are.
Live In Confidence. When you live your life enraptured by all the knowledge of the Holy One the fearful monsters of this world lose their fangs. In all their terror they don’t measure up to His majesty. You can live your life with confidence and safety. “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And his children will have refuge. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, That one may avoid the snares of death.” (Prov. 14:26-27, also 10:27; 22:4; 23:17).
Live In Blessing. Ultimately, the blessings that come from setting your compass on the Lord far outweigh the perks of wealth and pleasure. “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure with trouble.” (Prov. 15:16; 28:14). It charts a course to lasting satisfaction. “The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction.” (Prov. 19:23). At last you find safe harbor in the praise of those who really matter, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” (Prov. 31:30).
No wonder Paul gladly exclaimed, “I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Phil. 3:8). What a wise choice!
“Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Cor. 16:14)