The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7
What does it mean to “fear the Lord?” Does it mean we should run and hide every time we hear His name? Should we quake in our boots at the thought of Him? Well, I guess that all depends on whether or not you consider Him a friend or foe.
Sure, don’t be mistaken, there is plenty of room to fear God in the sense that we should “be afraid…be very afraid.” After all, we are nothing more than little specks in the universe, and the One of which we are talking was the one who existed before it all, made it all out of nothing, and holds it all together with the power of His will. If I get nervous standing next to a train track when a diesel locomotive chugs by causing the ground to rumble and my bones to shake, shouldn’t I be a little nervous of the God who breathed out the stars?
“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! – Luke 12:4-5 NKJV
It used to be common to hear someone say, “I’ll put the fear of God in them.” Unfortunately, aside from those who no longer believe God even exists, the Lord’s own followers often live in complete denial; they can’t imagine the same God who “dances over them” will condemn anyone to eternal damnation.
But in reality, a healthy fear – a massive, bone-chilling respect – of God should be the very beginning of all knowledge. It is the foundation on which godly wisdom is built.
Of course, I can hear what some of you are saying: “I can become wise without fearing an imaginary creation of bronze-age man.” Sure, go right ahead and see how that works. If, by chance, you make it through this life without being eaten alive with a gnawing emptiness that at every turn begs you to reevaluate the meaning for your existence, how will your self-based knowledge prepare you for the afterlife?
The way Solomon puts it, the ones who despise wisdom and instruction are fools – that’s pretty much a given. But even more, it’s the one who seeks knowledge while avoiding the Source that’s the greatest fool of all.
The ones who actually know something fear God.