The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
– Proverbs 1:7; 8-12-13
This year, at the church in the Philippines for which I work, we’re focusing our prayer and fasting efforts towards learning more about the wisdom of God. Day 1 helps us understand where wisdom begins. According to Prov 1:7, it starts with the fear of the LORD.
I see three things in this sentence that I need to understand. The first is wisdom. What is wisdom, and why would we want to have it? The second is fear. What exactly does it mean to “fear?” The third, of course, is the LORD. Who is this LORD, and why, of all things, do we have to fear Him?
Over the course of the next seven days, it is my faith goal to know more about and gain a holy fear and reverence for this God I serve in the context of attaining wisdom for a life worth living. After all, any efforts towards attaining a wise life without that important factor – a healthy fear of God as our motivation – are bound to fail.
The Bible is full of stories of men and women whose faith in and fear of God led them to make otherwise difficult choices. Joseph in rejecting the amorous advances of Potiphar’s wife. Noah building the ark to the sounds of his neighbors’ mocking. Gideon dedicating his family to God (and leading an army of hundreds into battle against armies of thousands). Rahab hiding Israel’s spies to the potential danger against herself and her household. It’s a veritable Who’s Who of people who understood Who God was and what He was capable of doing.
Solomon, whose reputation for wisdom is probably the most famous in all the Bible, writes in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14:
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.
All God asks of us is to fear Him and keep His commands… because it is for our own good. How simple is that? People who don’t live by that credo, well, the Bible in Proverbs what kind of people they are: they are indiscreet, they are proud, they are arrogant. They behave evilly and speak perversely.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not the kind of person around whom I would not normally would want to be around. A person who fears the LORD lives a life that is discreet, humble, and civil, yet willing to do dangerous things and take the difficult road if that’s where God calls them. That’s the kind of person I want to be.