Fear Is The Beginning Of Knowledge
Have you ever been on a quest for truth? I think we all have been or are continually on this sort of journey through life. There are those who make it their life’s work to be scholars and students. They seek knowledge and understanding. The Bible actually gives us all we need to know in order to be successful in that quest. King Solomon of Israel in the mid 900’s BC was granted a great gift of wisdom from God. He recorded many true and wise saying in the book of Proverbs. This entire book is full of nuggets of wisdom and excellent approaches to godly living. He begins the book by saying that these things are written for instruction, understanding, insight, wise dealing, justice, equity, prudence, knowledge, and many more good things. After this brief introduction he makes one statement that is the summary and pinnacle of the entire book as a whole.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Understanding this first will help us truly understand the key to successfully seeking knowledge.
Now, the title of this post is a little misleading because fear in and of itself is not the beginning of knowledge. We must clarify that this fear, is the fear of the Lord. Fear can be both healthy and detrimental. The type of fear we get when we are alone in the woods on a foggy dark night and hear rustling in the leaves mixed with the sound of predator’s on the hunt, is a valid but detrimental fear. We are afraid because we lack the confidence in facing that which we are afraid of. This is not the type of fear being described here. The type of fear being explained is similar to a hot stove top. We are afraid to touch it because it could burn us but we are not afraid of it because it is extremely useful in cooking. This type of fear is a respect for the abilities of the stove top. It would behoove us not to touch it but use it in a proper manner. With God it is similar, though not exact. God is the God of the universe, the God of creation, The almighty ruler of age past and ages to come. To look upon the face of God in our mortal flesh would be suicide because of His holiness. This is represented in the Old Testament by the ark of the covenant. Those who even by accident looked directly at the ark, instantly fell dead. This is the God of justice who cannot bear sin and is appointed judge over our lives. We are all sinners and thus deserve His wrath to be poured out upon us. It is absolutely right that we should fear Him for what we deserve and what He is capable of.
But, just like the stove top, the fear we should have is an attitude of respect. Knowing that God could simply snap His fingers and obliterate our existence should compel us to humble ourselves before Him. By taking an attitude of humility before God, we gain a greater understanding of the world around us. I like this quote from the margins of the ESV study bible, “The reason that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom is that the moral life begins with reverence and humility before the Maker and Redeemer.” Once we come to an understanding of who God is and our place in relation to Him, then we can pursue true knowledge. Proverbs 9:10 and Psalms 111:10 also state that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Knowledge is understanding how something works. It is a correct worldview or grasp of the mechanics of this life. Wisdom is the skills used to implement that knowledge properly.
The second half of the verse gives us a hint into the condition of the person who has yet to accept these facts. It is the fool that will not take advice. It is a fool that refuses to seek counsel and instruction from others and especially from the Word. We’ve all been there. We refuse to accept any advice because we are too prideful and think we know what we are doing. Yet, when we do whatever we decided to do and fail, we realize that we probably should have sought out advice. We lack wisdom. Psalms 14:1 states, “The fool says in his hearts, ‘there is no God.'” This is what the passage is talking about. It is the foolish person who fails to acknowledge God first and to subject themselves to Him. The gaining of knowledge and wisdom is pointless any other way and there will be no truth in that quest.
As you seek to learn more and understand your world always remember who God is and that He is the source of all truth. Look to His Word for guidance as you gain knowledge and understanding and implement true wisdom in applying it. Know that true wisdom is only given by God. Go in peace and humble yourself before the Redeemer that you may walk in truth.