Proverbs 1:7

The Fear of the Lord

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge…

1. The first occurrence of the expression “fear of the Lord” is found in I Sam. 11:7. The law of first occurrence indicates that what is revealed here is foundational. Totality
• What a dramatic beginning for an expression!
• Its original meaning was real FEAR—afraid of the awful consequences!
• The foundation of this expression is genuine fear—being afraid—shaking in one’s boots—
• Note also in this passage that the result of the fear of the Lord was that the people rallied to obey!
• They were moved by fear to obey…
• Heb.11:7 says that Noah was moved with fear and prepared an ark to the saving of his house.
• When WE are moved with fear, we too will obey! Fear drives us AWAY from evil and towards that which pleases God.
• Little children learn to FEAR the hot stove—usually by burning themselves. But once they discover the consequences of touching the stove—fear keeps them away from that which is not good for them! Fear is good and spiritually healthy.

2. Linking the fear of the Lord with wisdom and knowledge was first stated in Job 28:28.
• Chronologically, this occurs before the passage in I Sam… even though it appears after it in the order of the books. Job was written earlier.
• It would be quite foolish NOT to fear the Lord! Job learned just how immense God was… he got a glimpse of God’s infinite power in creation… God’s infinite wisdom and knowledge…
• God holds our next breath in His hand! He chastens His sons. He is omniscient… omnipotent!
• Not fearing that kind of a God would be foolish indeed!

3. It is a GOOD thing to fear God… to be afraid of Him…
• It is not popular any more to speak of God-fearing men… but the Bible sure speaks about it a lot! We should too!
• We have become so “buddy buddy” with God that there seems to be no fear left!
• Others have diminished the concept of fearing God by reducing it to merely reverence. Certainly it includes reverence, but fearing God is MORE than that. It is primarily and essentially being AFRAID!
• Fear – Hebrew word: yirah — fear, terror, an awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear) ; reverence…
• The new testament Greek word used in the expression is “phobos” – fear!
• to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to put to flight, to flee; to fear, be afraid; to be struck with fear, to be seized with alarm
• Fearing God is a good thing, regardless of how it is being downplayed in our generation.
• Some like to emphasize the fact that we should LOVE God and not fear Him. (Of course we love Him—but we FEAR Him too!)
• I feared the Grand Canyon… and that fear caused me to be in awe over its beauty, and also it caused me to walk circumspectly down those narrow trails!
• A child should fear His father… and he should love him too. They two are not mutually exclusive… both are part of a healthy relationship.

4. What causes us to fear God is the infinite gap between creature and Creator.
• This fear is based on a lofty concept of who God is… and who we are!
• We should fear displeasing Him… ever conscious of the fact that we could fall at any moment… and sin against Him!
• There is far too much shallowness in man’s relationship to God today. There is no fear of Him because we have reduced Him to one of us! (Ps. 50:17-21) God is NOT like us. He is God!

What the book of Proverbs says about the fear of the Lord…

1. It is the beginning of knowledge. (Prov.1:7)

2. Prov. 9:10 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom:

3. Prov. 8:13 – The fear of the LORD is to hate evil:

4. Prov. 10:27 – The fear of the LORD prolongeth days

5. Prov. 14:26 – In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

6. Prov. 14:27 – The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

7. Prov. 15:16 – Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

8. Prov. 15:33 – The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom;

9. Prov. 16:16 – by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

10. Prov. 19:23 – The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

11. Prov. 22:4 – By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

12. Prov. 23:17 – But be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.
• So if you want a life full of knowledge, wisdom, prolonged days, satisfaction, confidence, honor, and a life that hates and avoids evil—then fear God!
• In each context the expression occurs, there is a slightly different emphasis. But every time, fearing God is good and wholesome!

The Context of Proverbs 1:7

1. Here, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.

2. The beginning of knowledge:
• Beginning : first, beginning, best, chief; choice part
• The beginning of knowledge seems to refer to the MOST IMPORTANT part… the first and foremost…
• The most essential element in real knowledge is a fear of God!

3. The beginning of knowledge is contrasted to the fools who “despise wisdom and instruction.” (antithetical parallelism)
• The beginning of knowledge is the opposite of despising wisdom and instruction.
• There are two kinds of men. Those who (1) are moved with fear, and thus have true knowledge… and (2) despise wisdom and instruction.
• The fear of God is contrasted to a fool — in other words, the opposite of a God-fearing man is a fool! You are a FOOL if you do not fear God!
• Those two kinds of men are also characterized as (1) God fearing and (2) foolish.

4. What does fearing God have to do with knowledge? In what way is fearing God the chief part of knowledge?
• Consider the subject of marital problems…
• The God fearing man—because he fears God will fear displeasing God. He will want to know what God says about the subject. If he fears God, he will incorporate God’s Word to his marriage… He will want to marry a believer…
• The man who is NOT God fearing—the one described as a fool who hates instruction from God will seek help elsewhere…
• Consider the philosophical problem: why are we here?
• The God fearing man has the most important part of knowledge—God Himself! He knows just where to look for the answer.
• The man who is not God-fearing—the one described as a fool, is forced to seek the answer in his own fallen imagination!
• He is missing the most important part of knowledge: a fear of God!
• Where did the sun and moon come from?
• The God fearing man knows. The God fearing child knows.
• Some of the most brilliant minds in America are spending billions of your tax dollars to find out.
• He is missing the most important part of knowledge: a fear of God!
• How can I get to heaven?
• The man who fears God has no problem with the answer.
• The fool—who despises instruction will try to invent a way on his own… will attempt to make it through some religious endeavor, and end up in hell forever.
• He is missing the most important part of knowledge: a fear of God!
• Consider the problem of self control—either alcohol, drugs, lust, sexual sins, greed, or anger, etc. How do I deal with these problems?
• The God-fearing man has the answer: FEAR of displeasing God… and FEAR of the consequences of sin cause him to FLEE from evil!
• The fool who dismisses fearing God as an archaic concept lacks fear… and will be enticed… to his own destruction.
• He is missing the most important part of knowledge: a fear of God!
• How should I bring up my children? Should I spank them or not? Should I let them have equal authority in the home as the parents? What is the right way?
• The God-fearing man has the answer—
• The fool—who hates wisdom and instruction from God is doomed to grope in the darkness… and will pay dearly for it!
• He is missing the most important part of knowledge: a fear of God!
• Ecc. 12:13 – Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
• Fearing God is the chief or most important part of knowledge.
• Fearing God is the chief or most important part of our duty before God—in fact all else could be summarized by it!

But fools despise wisdom and instruction…

1. The fool runs headlong into all kinds of trouble that God fearing people avoid.
God has recorded His wisdom for us. It is all written for our learning and admonition!
Fearing God will keep us OFF the dead end streets the fool runs down…

2. Because he does not fear God, he does not listen to godly counsel or to the Word of God. Hence, he reaps the awful fruit of such rejection of truth. (Prov.1:30-31)

3. Because he does not fear God, he does not fear the consequences of sin before a holy God… and hence, he runs right into it! (Psalm 36:1-4)

4. A woodsman who does not fear his chain-saw… or does not fear the falling tree and refuses to receive instruction about his folly will PAY for it eventually! Sooner or later he will take a risk he shouldn’t… he will become careless… and he will be severely hurt.

5. Fear can be healthy and wholesome. A lack of fear is foolish.

6. If you want true knowledge, the place to start is “fearing God.” If you want to be a fool—despise instruction… and refuse to fear God.
• What is more reasonable than that a creature should trust and fear his Creator? What is more illogical than that a creature should reject the instruction of his Creator?
• vs.5 – A wise man will hear and learn. But the fool will despise wisdom and instruction.
• Because of his pride and arrogance, the fool learns lessons the hard way if at all.
• Solomon wrote this book to teach young men knowledge and discretion. (vs.4) Here he lays down one VITAL rule if that goal is to be accomplished: fear God! That is the principle part of knowledge! There is no true knowledge without it!
• Don’t be a fool and despise this kind of instruction. It is for your good!