Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…” NIV Solomon tells us here that the way of wisdom begins with fearing the Lord. Well, the question begs: What exactly does it mean “to fear the Lord?”
There are at least eighteen references to “the fear of the Lord” in Proverbs (1:7, 29; 2:5; 3:7; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:2, 26-27; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; 24:21; 31:30) As you study these verses you’ll see that there’s a negative aspect to the fear of the Lord and a positive aspect to the fear of the Lord. Let’s begin with the…
NEGATIVE ASPECT OF FEARING THE LORD
- to fear the Lord is to shun evil (Proverbs 3:7)
- to fear the Lord is to hate evil: pride, arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech (Proverbs 8:13)
- to fear the Lord is to avoid evil (Proverbs 16:6)
That’s the negative side of fearing the Lord. In a negative sense, fearing the Lord is all about rejecting the footpath of folly. Now here’s the…
POSITIVE SIDE OF FEARING THE LORD
- to fear the Lord is to heed Lady Wisdom’s advice and rebukes (Proverbs 1:29-30)
- to fear the Lord is to walk uprightly: honorably and honestly vs deviously (Proverbs 14:2)
That’s the positive aspect of fearing the Lord. In a positive sense, fearing the Lord is all about embracing the way of wisdom.
But to fear the Lord is MORE than just embracing a philosophy of life (the way of wisdom OR the footpath of folly). To fear the Lord is to embrace the Creator of that philosophy of life. To fear the Lord is to embrace the Person behind that way of life. Well the Bible tells us plainly that the Person behind the way of wisdom is none other than Jesus Christ. Let me explain…
In Proverbs 8:22-24 Lady Wisdom states, “The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. When there were no watery depths, I was given birth…” NIV The way of wisdom was created at the very beginning of the world, because God knew that the world’s inhabitants would need wisdom to live long, happy, healthy and prosperous lives. So God created a way of life, a set of rules, a set of principles that would successfully govern a man’s life – and he called it wisdom.
Now the Bible is very clear about which entity in the God-head created wisdom. In the God-head we have 1) God the Father, 2) God the Son and 3) God the Holy Spirit. Well it wasn’t God the Father who created wisdom. It wasn’t God the Holy Spirit either. It was God the Son – it was Jesus Christ. John 1:2-3 states that “He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning. Through him [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” NIV The Bible says that Jesus created all things – and that includes wisdom! So we can’t truly embrace wisdom without embracing Jesus Christ – wisdom’s Creator.
With all that in mind, here’s a working definition of what it means to fear the Lord. To fear the Lord is to reject the footpath of folly and to embrace the way of wisdom – specifically Jesus Christ, wisdom’s author.