Proverbs 15:33a

Fear Before Instruction


1. This is the third proverb in a row that deals with the subject of wisdom.

2. Each approach the subject from a slightly different angle.

a. Vs. 31 – a hearing ear = wisdom

b. Vs. 32 – refusing reproof = the opposite of wisdom

c. Vs. 33 – reverence and humility = wisdom

33a The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom

Proverbs says MUCH about the fear of the Lord

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

→ It is the beginning of knowledge. (Prov.1:7)
→ Prov.9:10 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.
→ Prov. 8:13 – The fear of the LORD is to hate evil.
→ Prov. 10:27 – The fear of the LORD prolongeth days.
→ Prov. 14:26 – In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
→ Prov. 14:27 – The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
→ Prov. 15:16 – Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.
→ Prov. 15:33 – The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom.
→ Prov. 16:16 – by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
→ 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.
→ Prov. 22:4 – By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
→ Prov. 23:17 – But be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.


1. Deut. 5:27-29 – God laments when His people don’t fear Him.

a. Moses is about to receive the ten commandments.
• The people were afraid of the fire and noise… and asked Moses to speak to God for them.
• Vs. 27 – They told Moses that whatever God said to them, they would DO.
• Their intentions were good.

b. In vs. 29, God laments because He knows, in spite of their good intentions, they do not have the proper kind of fear and reverence for Him that they should.
• God knew that they would not follow through on what they intended to do.
• Their fear of God would fizzle out… and so would their determination to obey.
• And as a result, they are missing out on His blessing!

c. Vs. 29 – God knew that godly fear is GOOD for them… and for their families!
• God laments because His people are missing out on His blessings…
• But perhaps more so God laments because their fear of God would soon turn into disrespect and that would turn into disobedience..
• He is WORTHY of our respect and reverence!

d. God laments when He does not receive it… like any father would lament if their children were disrespectful towards them.
• God, like any father, is concerned about the ATTITUDE of His children towards Him.
• Fear, respect, and reverence are essential to a right relationship to God.

e. Before we can ever receive instruction from the Lord, God demands that we demonstrate reverence and respect for who He is… the fear of the Lord.
• In this section of Deut., God was about to speak to the children of Israel… He was about to give them His Word… the moral law… the Ten Commandments.
• God lamented because He knew their fear of Him was quite shallow… and that His word would not be understood OR obeyed without a fear of God.

2. Psalm 4:3-4 – The fear of God is standing in awe of who He is, leads a man to be STILL before Him… and to commune with our own heart.

a. Vs. 3 – the lord hath set apart to Himself those who are godly.
• David also notes that God HEARS those folks when they pray.
• Genuine communication exists between God and the godly.
• God listens and responds to the godly.

b. Vs. 4 – David is telling the sons of men to stand in awe of God… become a God-fearer.
• The one who begins to learn who God is, and learns of His omnipotence and omniscience, will naturally stand in AWE of Him.
• He will be humbled before Him… stand still.
• Part of learning to fear God is learning how PUNY we are in His presence!
• As we learn to fear God, self is abased… pride is put aside…

c. The one who fears God has great reverence before God will be still and LISTEN to Him through His Word.
• First we HEAR God in His Word, then that hearing is to be followed by an appropriate RESPONSE.

d. Because we are made in God’s image (intellect, emotion, and will), the appropriate response is to THINK THROUGH what God said.
• Commune with your own heart: think things through in your own mind and heart; meditate; reason things out in the presence of God…
• WHY commune with our own heart? Because it usually leads to making some ADJUSTMENTS in our hearts.
• THAT is the way of wisdom!

e. The awe of God… the fear of the Lord leads to genuine instruction in wisdom in the heart.
• This instruction is HEARD; it doesn’t go in one ear and out the other.
• It enters the mind and meditated upon. It sinks into the heart.
• Necessary adjustments are made, and it is applied to the life.
• That is the one who truly LEARNS… divine instruction of wisdom… that is experienced.
• This is not just book learning. That’s real learning.

3. Psalm 25:12 – God chooses to TEACH only those who fear Him.

a. In this psalm, David seeks to be taught… instructed by the Lord.
• Vs. 4-5 – Show me thy ways; lead me; teach me!
• Vs. 8-9 – God teaches sinners like us; He leads and teaches those who are meek…
• Meekness implies a teachable spirit…
• God teaches the teachable… God leads those willing to be led.
• Those who are proud and arrogant, God will neither lead nor teach.

b. And doesn’t that make perfect sense?
• God teaches His children only when they come before Him in godly fear, respect, and reverence.
• The opposite of that is pride—the know it all—the arrogant one who really isn’t interested in listening.
• Why should ANYONE teach such an arrogant fool?
• His refusal to bow in the presence of God in reverence indicates that he really doesn’t WANT to be instructed.

c. God teaches those who fear Him. He doesn’t teach those who do not fear Him.
• Remember that every time we come into God’s presence in a special way… in church… family devotion time… when we pray… when we open His Word.
• God seeks to lead, guide, and instruct those who approach Him in fear, respect, and reverence.
• Absent that, we will NOT be led, guided, or instructed.
• Absent that godly fear, approaching God is a mere sham… a religious front… a facade… an empty, shallow, religious form.

d. But when we DO fear God, HE INSTRUCTS! He taught the God-fearers in Israel the true meaning of His covenants!
• To all the rest who did NOT fear Him, the law was but nothing but an old book of burdensome rules.
• But to those who feared God, they DELIGHTED in the old covenant law! It was God’s Word… sweet as honey!
• A fear of God changes our whole attitude and outlook.

e. Cf. Vs. 14 – The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him.
• Secret = confident counsel.
• God gives counsel and guidance to those who fear Him.
• God will teach the God fearer and enable him to understand His covenant… His Word.
• Cf. usage in Job 29:4 – God’s secret was upon Job’s tabernacle in the days of his youth.
• Job remembered his times of intimate fellowship, communion, and counsel he received from God.
• God’s counsel is only upon the tabernacle of those who fear God.

4. Psalm 31:19 – God has rich treasures for those who fear Him.

a. Goodness = this is a general term for goodness used in various ways in the Old Testament:
• The plentiful harvest of the land (Neh. 9:36; Jer. 2:7);
• Items of superior quality and desirability (2 Kgs. 8:9);
• Inward joy (Isa. 65:14);
• The manifest goodness of the Lord.

b. Laid up = to hide, to keep secret. It is used of concealing something, often of great value.

c. God has hidden away from the sight and experience of the multitudes, GREAT GOODNESS.
• It is concealed from the pride and arrogant…
• It is concealed from those who refuse to listen…
• It is hidden away from the foolish know it alls.
• But it is hidden away FOR those who fear God!
• That’s why the psalmist—who feared God—said as he read Scripture: “Lord, open thou mine eyes that I might behold wondrous things out of thy law!”
• Wondrous things are IN Gods’ Word… but they are hidden from those who do not come to God bowed down… in respect and reverence.
• A great harvest of things of a superior quality that brings inner joy is found in the instruction of the Lord… but they are ONLY for those who fear God.
• God is able to tell who’s who when we pray, read, and hear His Word taught.

d. One of the special treasures hidden away from the world and hidden FOR the believer is instruction in wisdom.
• God DOES seek to impart wisdom to men.
• However, we KNOW that God has a prerequisite: fear or reverence.
• God’s good gifts are for God fearers and no one else. This certainly includes the impartation of the knowledge of God and an understanding of his Word.
• If we are not understanding the Scriptures when we read, perhaps we need to bow a little lower…

5. Prov. 1:7 –the fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom.

a. This is where it starts.

b. No reverence; no wisdom.

c. God won’t even BEGIN to teach us wisdom until we come into His presence bowed down in reverence.

d. He who fears God will be well taught in the ways of wisdom.

e. The more we get to know who God is, the more we will fear Him. To know Him IS to fear Him!

f. A lack of fear of God indicates that we don’t know Him very well.
• He is WORTHY of fear… respect… reverence.
• How can you not fear a God who sent fire and brimstone from heaven?
• How can you not fear and reverence a God who holds your next breath in His hand?
• How can you not fear a God who is omnipotent?
• If you don’t fear Him, you don’t know Him.

g. The more we know of Him, the more we will fear… and thus, the more He will instruct us—for fearing God is the BEGINNING of wisdom… and is the beginning of instruction!
• God only instructs those who fear Him.

h. Fearing God implies a willingness not only to HEAR, but to OBEY.

i. John 17:7 – He will KNOW the doctrine IF he is willing to DO what it says. Otherwise, that teaching remains a secret… hidden from him… he will be blinded towards that element of truth.