Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge?

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge?

The fear of the Lord is a topic mentioned frequently in Scripture, especially in the book of Proverbs where it appears eighteen times. King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

But what is the fear of the Lord and why is it the beginning of knowledge? Fearing God seems to be a strange way of knowing God, don’t you think? How exactly can we know God by fearing Him?

When talking about the “fear of the Lord,” it does not necessarily mean we are to be afraid of Him and so we should stay out of His way. Some people seem to suggest that God is an angry monster who would strike anyone who does anything offensive to Him.

But that is not who God is. Didn’t God sacrifice His only begotten Son for the salvation of the world and He did it out of His great love (John 3:16)?

What Is The Fear Of The Lord?

The fear of the Lord is not the slavish fear of a criminal before a judge but the loving and reverential fear of a child for his or her parents. It is that affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law (Bridges).

It is also the ultimate expression of reverential submission to the Lord’s will and thus characterizes a true worshiper (Ross).

More importantly, it is our fear of the Lord that will enable us to know God. If we want to understand God’s works and God’s Word, we must maintain this reverential fear of the Lord, for this attitude is the basis for receiving spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Knowing God by Fearing Him

It All Starts With Fear

The starting point of our relationship with God is fear because when we fear Him, we accept His majesty, which eventually becomes the basis from which we can build and grow spiritually.

In Psalm 76:1-12, Asaph uses the word fear three times as he gives a brief history of God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The Israelites had seen God’s power and might when He covered the pharaoh’s chariots with the Red Sea and they feared Him (Psalm 76:6-7).

When God sent His judgment to Moses (Psalm 76:8a), the Israelites had been sanctified and prepared to meet God at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:9). Although the people were not allowed to climb the mountain, they were allowed to listen and watch when Moses received the Ten Commandments.

But when they saw the “thundering, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking” (Exodus 20:18), they told Moses they were afraid. In response, Moses said to the people, “Do not fear for God has come to test you and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin (Exodus 20:20).

God’s Might Is Fearful

Next, the psalmist refers to Jehoshaphat’s reign when “The earth feared and was still” (Psalm 76:8). Israel’s enemies feared the power of God, and because of this, there was peace in the land for twenty-five years (2 Chronicles 20:29).

When people lose their fear of God, bad things happen. God’s judgment is swift and certain. When Assyria lost its fear of God, God killed 185,000 of them (2 Kings 19:35). When the church lost its fear of God in the New Testament, He killed Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-11).

Again, this is not to say that God is always looking for people who exhibit no fear of Him just so He gets a chance to bring His judgment upon them. The emphasis here is that when God’s people fear Him, they would not sin and will desire to live under God’s will.

Looking at what is going on today in America, a nation whose constitution was founded on the Word of God is heart-breaking. You see people spreading terror and fear in major cities, crime rates increasing, and all kinds of lawlessness. What happened to this great nation that God has blessed tremendously for many years?

The people have not only lost the fear of God but they also have removed God from their schools, government institutions, and pretty much every section of society. They no longer acknowledge God as the law-giver, the giver of life, and the source of every blessing, victory, and peace.

But it’s not yet too late. Didn’t God say that if His people whom He has called will humble themselves, and pray and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14)?

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Bringing Our Offerings To God

The third reference to fear says that we should “bring presents to Him who ought to be feared” (Psalm 76:11). We make vows to God and fulfill them not because we fear that He might take all of His provisions back. (Note: We need to always remember that everything we have and possess belongs to God as Psalm 24:1 and 1 Corinthians 10:26 say.)

Rather, we present to God our gifts to show our love and respect to Him. But God wants us to bring Him more than offerings. He wants our time and talent in Bible study, prayer, and service. God is not that interested in our money than He is in what we can do to further His Kingdom on earth.

God cares a lot more about souls that will be ushered into His Kingdom through our small acts of kindness towards our fellowmen than any amount we put into the offering basket. And everything we do must be aimed at pleasing our Lord who has called us into His family, rather than the honor and recognition we could get from anyone.

For instance, when we cook a pot of chicken soup for a neighbor or fix a flat tire for a stranger, we should do it as if the Lord Himself were receiving the gift (Colossians 3:23-24).

Fear God, Not Circumstances

They say that the phrase, “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid” appears 365 times in the Bible. That’s one for each day of the year!

Are you afraid of lack? Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). He also said, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

If we are serving God with our whole heart, we have nothing to fear. If we honor God with our gifts, talents, and time, we have nothing to fear. If we love Him enough to put Him first in our lives, we have nothing to fear. If we have given Him our heart, we have nothing to fear.

Fear God & Keep His Commandments

The book of Ecclesiastes ends where the book of Proverbs begins, with an admonition for us to fear God (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

The fear of the Lord is that attitude of reverence and awe that His people show to Him because they love Him and respect His power and His greatness. The person who fears God will pay attention to His Word and obey it.

Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge

He or she will not tempt the Lord by deliberately disobeying or by playing with sin. An unholy fear makes people run away from God, but a holy fear brings them to their knees in loving submission to God.

The fear of the Lord must result in obedient living, otherwise, that “fear” is only a sham. The dedicated believer will want to spend time daily in Scripture, getting to know the Father better, and discovering His will.

Closing Words

If we truly “fear” the Lord, we acknowledge from our hearts that He’s the Creator, we’re the creatures; He’s the Father, we’re His children; He’s the Master, we’re the servants.

It means respecting God for who He is, listening carefully to what He says, and obeying His Word, knowing that our disobedience displeases Him, breaks our fellowship with Him, and invites His chastening.

Once again, the fear of the Lord is not the servile fear of the slave before the master but the reverential and respectful fear of the child before his parents.

Do you fear the Lord? Does it impel you to regard Him with respect, reverence, and awe?


Recommended Resource: Where Wisdom Begins: Understanding the Fear of the Lord by Derek Prince

Where Wisdom Begins - Derek PrinceThe Bible says fear of the Lord is the “beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and the “beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). Proverbs 14:27 even calls it a “fountain of life!”

But do people really understand what is meant by the “fear of the Lord?”

Drastically different from the frightful trembling we feel in response to a threatening person or dangerous situation, the “fear of the Lord” is a deep sense of reverence and awe of the One who created us, loves us, and saved us.

With comforting words of instruction, renowned Bible scholar Derek Prince explains:

  • How the fear of the Lord differs from other types of fear
  • How to gain wisdom and understanding, which are rooted in the fear of the Lord
  • How to overcome pride in order to submit to Christ and to others
  • How to stand in awe of God’s holiness

Experience peace and confidence by cultivating the fear of the Lord, the place Where Wisdom Begins!

2 Replies to “Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Knowledge?”

  1. Dear Alice,

    Thank you so much for spreading the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I have a very strange question for you and others you can contact.

    Question #1: Abortion is a crime! Will those children be given another chance before the final judgement? What will happen to their souls?

    Question #2: There are people who have long died before they were reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What will happen to their souls when the final judgement comes?

    Thank you and remain blessed.

    1. Hello David,

      Thank you so much for coming by again, I truly appreciate you being a regular part of this site. I hope you will continue to do so.

      The question about children who have died before reaching the age of accountability has been one of things that people ask often ask about. If salvation is by grace through faith, what about those children who were not given a chance to make the choice to place their faith in Christ? What about babies who were deprived of the chance to be born into this world?

      Abortion is indeed a crime; it’s evil! But one thing we can be sure of is that these babies has gone immediately into the presence of the Lord. Why? Because although they were not able to decide as to whether accept or reject God’s offer of salvation, they also were not able to commit sin. Sure, they had the sin nature inherited from Adam but that does not mean they went to hell.

      It’s the same thing with those who died without hearing about Jesus or the Gospel. Just like those in the Old Testament, they will be judged according to what they knew and believed about God.

      The Bible says, “For since the creation of the world His (God’s) invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:20-21).

      In other words, no one will be able to say to God during judgment day that they had never heard of Jesus or the Gospel. Every human being has been given the moral conviction to know that there is “Divine, Supreme” being who created heaven and earth. People who may not have heard about Jesus had an awareness of GOD, although they may call Him with a different name.

      You may want to read Paul’s account in Athens when he preached to them and declared to them the UNKNOWN GOD that they were worshiping (Acts 17:16-34).

      God bless you more.

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