The Beginning of Wisdom

Jeff Munroe

READ : Proverbs 1:7-33

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (v. 7 NIV)

Are we supposed to be teaching young people to be afraid of God? This idea seems contrary to our notions of God as a loving Father and sounds old fashioned and foreign to our ears. One modern commentator even begins his explanation of verse seven by saying, “To fear God is not to be afraid of him.”

Really? Maybe Solomon chose the right word when he said “fear.” Look at the rest of Scripture. What are the first words God must say whenever he breaks through and speaks directly to humans? “Do not be afraid!” Facing God can be terrifying.

Fear is the proper human response in the presence of God. Fear means we understand who we are (and who we aren’t!) and who God is. The fear of the Lord means living in a proper relationship to God.

In contrast, the rest of the first chapter of Proverbs presents the fool, who despises wisdom and instruction. Eugene Peterson says fools “thumb their noses at wisdom.” Fools don’t get it; they don’t realize there is more to life than what they can see, taste, smell, touch, and hear. It is foolish not to know we ought to tremble and be on our knees when we come into the presence of God.


Lord, may we live in a right relationship with you.