“The Fear of the LORD (Part 2)”Categories: Proverbs
Proverbs 1:7 provides the theme for the entire book: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The theme of “the fear of the LORD” is a refrain seen throughout the book. This phrase – or some form of it – is used over 15 times. Obviously, Solomon wants his children to understand that wisdom cannot be built on a human foundation. The correct foundation is in understanding how one relates to God. Once that foundation is settled, then we can build up.
When we look at each use of the phrase “the fear of the Lord” a few categories of thought make themselves clear.
First, there is no true knowledge or wisdom outside of God. This is clear from the thesis statement of 1:7 we already noted. But note 9:10: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. This verse says that we become knowledgeable when we know of God. It is not enough just to know a lot about many things. We have to know something about the right things. What are we spending our time on? Proverbs 15:33 makes the same point but circles back around to our standing before God: The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor. If we cannot recognize who we are in the grand order of things, then we are done before we ever begin.
Second, if we have a proper fear of the Lord, then we will hate evil. How can we know who God is in all His holiness, purity, and justice while maintaining a relationship with anything unholy, impure, and unjust?
- 3:7 – Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
- 8:13 – The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
- 14:2 – Whoever walks in uprightness fears the LORD, but he who is devious in his ways despises Him.
- 16:6 – By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the LORD one turns away from evil.
- 23:17 – Let not your heart envy sinners but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day.
- 24:21 – My son, fear the LORD and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise.
Jesus said, “Man cannot serve two masters.” Who are we going to serve?
Third, “fear of the LORD” benefits life. We’ve all heard our parents say (or have said it ourselves), “If you know what’s good for you…” Too often we feel that God is taking away all our toys and fun by forbidding us from certain pleasures. I am reminded of a line from Lord of the Rings: “I am not trying to rob you. I am trying to help you!” Proverbs teaches that the fear of the LORD will benefit us, not rob us.
- 10:27 – The fear of the LORD prolongs life but the years of the wicked will be cut short.
- 14:26 – In the fear of the LORD one has strong confidence, and his children will have refuge.
- 14:27 – The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death.
- 19:23 – The fear of the LORD leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
- 22:4 – The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life.
- 28:14 – Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
- 31:30 – Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
God is worthy of all glory, honor, praise, and majesty. He wants to share that with us. He has no desire to keep us from wonderful things. But when we sin and settle for the temporary pleasure this world offers we rob ourselves of what is truly wonderful. We need to raise our standards. We cannot allow ourselves to be fulfilled by what sin offers when God is offering so much more.
By fearing the LORD, we come to understand essential truths. By fearing the LORD, we cannot maintain a relationship with sin. Through fearing the LORD, we will be blessed beyond measure.