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TO CHEW ON: "The fear of God is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction." Proverbs 1:7
Here, very early in this collection of wise sayings, the main author of Proverbs, Solomon, clearly tells us the filter through which he will pass all that follows: The fear of God (not the fear of man, or the fear of political correctness, or the possibility of delivering pleasure, or even whether or not the thing is practical).
Tim Challies, pastor and author, gives a helpful description of the relationship between wisdom and the fear of God:
“Wisdom is the application of the fear of God to life; it is living in such a way that we esteem God above all else. A man who is wise is first a man who fears God. This is not a terrified, horrified fear, as in the fear of a child for a monster or an abusive father, but a fear based on a realistic understanding of the infinite gap between God and man in holiness and knowledge” – Tim Challies, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, p. 55 (emphasis added).
When I studied the fear of God for a Bible study last winter, here are some things I discovered. The fear of God:
- Sets apart those who fear Him. In the Old Testament, it set the nation of Israel apart from other nations. For them it meant getting rid of rival gods and worshiping God only (Deuteronomy 10:12; Joshua 4:24; 24:14).
- Has benefits. Those who fear God:
* are on the path to real wisdom and knowledge - Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7 (our focus verse).
* receive God's acceptance and a place in His book of remembrance - Acts 10:3; Malachi 3:16.
* have the promise of continuous instruction for life and light in dark times - Psalm 25:12; Isaiah 50:10.
* experience His goodness, pleasure, and pity or compassion - Psalm 31:19; 147:11; 103:13.
* are promised His mercy through generations nationally and personally - 1 Samuel 12:14; Luke 1:50.
- The consequences of forsaking the fear of God are their own rebuke in backsliding, wickedness, evil, and bitterness - Jeremiah 2:19.
So we're convinced. We want to live our lives in the fear of God. What does that look like for us personally? It may mean things like:
- taking more responsibility for the education of our children instead of leaving it to the state.
- resisting the temptation to work for cash (to avoid paying tax), even though many in our line of work operate that way.
- continuing to identify ourselves with fellow believers (the church) even as those who practice the Christian faith are increasingly sidelined in public life.
- and a whole lot of other things.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to build my life on the fear of You, and to understand what that means for my actions, situation by situation. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.