Summary: The scriptures read "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Wisdom is something we desperately need in our world. We need it today especially. We need it as the body of Christ on Earth.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise. -Psalm 111:10 NIV
The scriptures read "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Wisdom is something we desperately need in our world. We need it today especially. We need it as the body of Christ on Earth.
The scriptures are very clear: Wisdom begins with fearing God. This offends our modern sentiments. Why? I suppose because we assume fear is a bad thing. But is fear always bad? Fear alerts us to danger. Fear reminds us we are walking close to the edge from a steep height. Fear keeps us within our boundaries.
Of course fear can become out of whack. Fear can overcome us, and become things like chronic anxiety, worrying, and even depression. Fear can certainly be a bad thing. But fear can also be a good and healthy thing. It's part of our make up. It helps us to flee when danger is near.
1 Corinthians 6:18 says "flee from sexual immorality." 2 Timothy 2:22 says "flee from youthful passions." Once again, running from temptation flies in the face of our modern views. We think we can handle it. In fact we're told we can handle it. We're told we deserve it.
Flee from sin! And fear the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. As an early Christian I read right over that verse. I didn't like it, so I ignored it. But instead let's crack it open, see if it's true. God's word is truth right? Always.
Psalm 23:1-6 ESV reads, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."
The beautiful psalm reminds that we must not fear evil. Again in Isaiah 41:10 it is written: "Fear not, for I am with you." Many times in the scripture we are told to "fear not!" So how then can we say to fear is good?
Well, to me it seems like the scriptures are pointing to a fundamental truth about the human condition: Our poles are reversed when it comes to fear. We fear the world, we fear people, we fear the future, and we fear the past. But we don't fear God. In fact even those who know there is a God don't seem too concerned when they break his commandments and shun his presence. We've got a pole reversal problem.
The proper state of fear is that we fear God and we are completely fearless in the face of the world and the future. We're as bold as lions, we're filled to the brim with zeal. There is nothing we cannot do before the unbelieving world. But this zeal, this fearlessness and courage begins fundamentally with a fear of the Lord.
"The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm." -Proverb 19:23 ESV
The greatest book of wisdom in human history is a book called Proverbs. It was written by a man named Solomon, and by several others. King Solomon was the son of King David. King David was called a man after God's own heart. His son Solomon was made an offer by God, to ask him for anything. Solomon was wise when he made this request: "Grant me wisdom Lord." God was very pleased with this request, and granted the request to him.
Solomon penned the words of Chapter one of Proverbs as such:
1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Once again we see, in the very first chapter Solomon describes line by line all the various uses for the book of Proverbs. Then in verse 7 he gives his very first piece of wisdom: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."