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September 19, 2013

Text:  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”  Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)

Wisdom was highly regarded in the ancient world. Our times care not a fig for wise men; just for making money. But the concept of wisdom is frequently mentioned throughout the Bible as a mentor for those who seek God.

Would you like to be wise? You might find a “guru” to teach you his insights. You might find a dusty ancient book to bestow perception into ancient mysteries. You might attend a top-rated university and take philosophy. But that would only increase your knowledge of worldly pursuits. However, real wisdom comes from God.

In the text above notice two important words: fear and knowledge. The Bible gives no definition about the meaning of fear; particularly the phrase “fear the Lord”. But we can observe God’s Word and understand its usage in the Bible. On the other hand, we do comprehend the word “knowledge” and the oft-used phrase “know the Lord”. We know God from his revelation of himself and that we increase our knowledge of him and also deepen our walk with the Lord by seeking him in his word.

Some Bible readers see the word “fear” and never make it past the  meaning to “to be afraid”. This seems realistic in some ways, but there are other nuances that provide us more insight. A second meaning for “fear” is “to have a reverential awe of God.” There is a connection between knowledge and fear. The appearances of these together in most instances demonstrates their equivalence.

As one draws near to God He should more and more think and act in concert with God’s perspective. His thinking changes and he sees the world as God sees it. His morality develops to be like God’s righteousness. His will complies  with God’s so that he is a more obedient servant. All of these developments occur because the Christian changes his “world-view” from worldliness to godliness. I think this is part of what the Bible calls becoming a new man. Romans 6:3-4; II Corinthians 3:18.

Hophni and Phinehas were sons of Eli the priest of the shrine at Shiloh. These two sons of Eli were guilty of misconduct in their priestly duties (theft, extortion, fornication). The writer of I Samuel says of them, “The sons of Eli were worthless men, they did not know the Lord. ” I Samuel 2:12 (Emphasis mine. REM)  It seems they did not understand what God had ordained. These men were punished because they did not comprehend that “to know is to fear”.

Moses’ experience with Pharaoh was much the same. When Moses and Aaron encountered Pharaoh and said to him, “Let my people go…” (Exodus 5:1), Pharaoh answered, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord…”  (Exodus 5:3) This is not a  statement of ignorance; it is a statement of defiance! It is not that Pharaoh was untutored about Israel’s God. He was stubborn and disobedient.

To be sure, the God-fearing servant is constantly practicing knowing, fearing and serving the God of heaven.

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  Ecclesiastes 12:13

NOTE: I am deeply indebted to the article On the Biblical Notion of Human Dignity: ‘Fear of God’ as a Condition for Authentic Existence. The author is Job Y. Jindo. The article appeared in “Biblical Interpretation”, in 2011.

One Comment
  1. “Fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man” How true, and How Profound!!

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