Proverbs is all about seeking wisdom, but the first step is an unexpected one: fear. Not scary costumes and frightening faces and eerie sounds (not even on October 31st!). Not agoraphobia or arachnophobia or any other phobia.
No, this is the kind of fear that makes us fall down on our faces and tremble in God’s holy presence. If we long to be spiritually smart, this is where we start.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the Lord… Proverbs 9:10
God-fearing. It’s a phrase we don’t often hear. Sounds a bit dated. Old school. We’d rather focus on loving God and being loved by Him.
Sure, that’s a good thing. But it’s not the first thing we need to learn.
This is God’s lesson plan:
- “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Psalm 34:11).
- “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever” (Psalm 19:9).
- “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness” (Joshua 24:14).
So, what does this kind of fear look like? “Respect”(CEV). “Awe” (EXB). “Reverence” (VOICE). We stand in wonder, we kneel in worship, we live in obedience because of our holy and humble fear of the Almighty One, because of our “dread of the Lord” (WYC).
God wants us to harbor a genuine fear of His mighty power and infinite strength. As David wrote, “If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due” (Psalm 90:11).
No one but God can rightly say, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.” He did, beloved, and He will.
When we start to shake in our boots, we are walking in the right direction. God will show us what our healthy fear of Him produces: something wonderful, something new.
…is the beginning of wisdom,… Proverbs 9:10
Don’t you love fresh starts? A new journal, a calendar without anything scribbled on it yet, a blank To-Do list. For many of us, “the chief and choice part” (AMP) is “the start” (LEB).
Grace is all about starting over. Being washed clean, being made new. Since “his mercies begin afresh each morning” (Lamentations 3:23), we can start right now—right where we are—to show the Lord more reverence, more honor, more awe. Truth is, “if you really want to become wise, you must begin by having respect for the Lord” (NIRV).
Anytime I lose sight of just how truly powerful God is, I read three short chapters in Scripture—Job 38-41—which begins with God’s thunderous challenge to Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?”
This passage is so familiar at the Higgs house, we just remind each other, “Where were you…?” and a healthy fear of the Lord quickly stirs in our hearts. Try just these four verses, and you’ll see what I mean. Oh, my.
…and knowledge of the Holy One… Proverbs 9:10
The Hebrew word qadosh means, “sacred” or “holy.” It’s plural here, which is why some translators give us “holy things” (GNV) and “Holy Ones” (YLT), and why I’ve given you three harvest pumpkins. He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We want to know all of Him, the whole of Him, the Holy of Him. Everything our minds can handle. Everything our hearts can hold.
We not only need to “learn about” (NLV) the Lord, we truly “must know” (CEV) Him. A relationship with our Creator and Savior is deeply personal and moves way beyond head knowledge.
It took me forever to understand this.
I knew about God for the first 27 years of my life. Then I finally knew God—or rather, was known by Him. All at once, distance was replaced with intimacy. Cold indifference became Spirit-fueled adoration. “Go away!” turned into “Please don’t leave me or forsake me!”
He doesn’t. He hasn’t. He never will.
…is understanding. Proverbs 9:10
This is where fear of the Lord takes us: understanding. Our destination is a deeper “insight into life” (MSG), which inevitably “results in good judgment” (NLT). A solid foundation.
Fearing, respecting, honoring, worshiping, and reverencing God not only opens the gateway to understanding His Word and His will—it also “results in every other kind of understanding” (TLB).
Imagine it! All that goodness from putting into practice one four-letter word: fear. Not a fear that separates us from God, but a fear that draws us closer to Him.
Heavenly Father, let it never be said of us, “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Psalm 36:1). When we read Your Word, fill our minds with wonder. When we see Your creation, fill our hearts with awe. When You pour out Your mercy on us, fill our souls with gratitude. You are worthy, O Lord. So very worthy.
Now it’s your turn
- Psalm 96:4 reminds us, “For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.” What does “fearing God” mean to you?
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Your grateful sister, Liz
P.S. Here I am, reading The Pumpkin Patch Parable at our church this week. Is there anything sweeter than a child’s face alight with God’s love?