“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)
I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to be a fool. We have enough of those in the world. So, how do I keep from being one?
The Proverb spells it out pretty clearly. It starts with fearing the Lord.
But what does that mean?
The dictionary defines fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous. Is God dangerous? Are we to be afraid? Tremble?
A look through Scripture makes it seem so. Old Testament frequently uses the word fear when talking about how we’re to approach God.
The thesaurus gives us other words for fear: trepidation, dread, consternation, dismay, distress. Is that what God wants from us? To quiver and quake in our shoes, like the Israelites at the foot of Mt. Sinai?
Seems kind of odd. We like Scripture passages with pleasant emotions, like peace, joy, happiness. But not unpleasant words, like fear. It’s my experience that in our society today, any unpleasant emotion or word needs to be done away with. At all cost. Fearing the Lord comes across as archaic, medieval, even backward.
Maybe our culture has brought us to the place where the only thing we fear is not having what we want. We no longer have respect or reverence for anything besides ourselves and our own opinions. Which brings us back around to the second part of the verse: fools.
Which is not where I want to find myself.
So what if we press into this word a little. Might it reveal something we’re missing in our comfort-laden society?
The definition for fear brings to mind a scene in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe where Susan asks Mr. Beaver if Aslan is safe.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “… Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
A few Bible translations use more descriptive words. The NCV calls for respect. CEV says respect and obey. The MSG uses bowing down. TLB says trust and reverence. AMP describes worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome.
It starts with fear, reverence, respect, but since God’s good, we can trust that the knowledge, wisdom and discipline He has for us is far better than our own foolish way of living.
Truth and knowledge start with You.
I have to admit, I’ve lived foolishly. I’ve often despised, refused, and rejected the things You’ve wanted to teach me. I’ve gone my own way, done my own thing, and have been upset when things turn into a mess. I haven’t always sought You first.
I want Your best for me. I want to know You more and to walk in truth. Give me ears to hear, eyes to see, and a teachable heart.
Thank you that Your truth will set me free.
In the precious name of the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.