The Fear That Leads To Knowledge & Wisdom

By August 15, 2021Public Blog

Below are two verses that most of us have read and quoted many times.  This is especially true when it comes to being involved in Christian school education.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;  Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.  Proverbs 9:10

As is too often the case in one’s walk with the Lord, we quote verses like these but never dig deep into their meanings.  In Proverbs 1, the word beginning  means the chief, first or foremost.  It carries with it the meaning of the start of something.  The writer is stating that the fear of the Lord is the essence of true knowledge.

The term translated beginning in Proverbs 9 is a different Hebrew word.  Here, it means the prerequisite.  Before you can get wisdom, you must first fear the Lord.  The verse goes on to tie wisdom to the knowledge of God and understanding.  Warren Wiersbe says when you attend to getting wisdom, you get a deeper knowledge of God.

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom, what does it mean to fear God?  As I studied this, I was challenged by several things that others have written.  Wiersbe wrote,

The fear of the Lord comes when we acknowledge from our hearts that He is the Creator, we are the creatures; He’s the Father, we’re His children; He’s the Master, we’re His servants.

Charles Bridges defines the fear of the Lord as the affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law.  Poole’s commentary on Proverbs 1:7 states that the fear of the Lord is the foundation without which all other knowledge is vain and useless.

Recently, I was viewing a Q&A session at the 2021 Fellowship Conference when a participant asked the panel what does the fear of the Lord look like to the everyday Christian.  This man explained that when he first became a Christian, he had a real awareness of the fear of God but he seemed to have lost it over the years.

Michael Durham of Real Truth Matters first defined the fear of the Lord this way.

A biblically balanced view of who God is that leaves you absolutely awed by Him. You do not fear God until you see Him as He is faithfully revealed in Scripture.

He went on to explain that the problem with Christians not fearing God arises from a skewed view of who He is.  If you emphasize God’s love over His other attributes, you end up with no honor or respect of God.  This is because you see Him as this syrupy, kind, gentle, meek God.  However, if you only define God by His attribute of justice, you will never draw near to Him because you will be morbidly afraid of Him.  We will only fear God when we know God as He is faithfully revealed in Scripture.

Today, we are seeing many Christian “celebrities” leaving the faith.  They, for some reason or another, no longer claim to be Christians.  In fact, some of them are offering counsel and courses on how to deconstruct your faith. Dennis Hanbarger posted an interesting statement on social media related to all of these deconstruction stories.

I’m noticing that so many deconstruction stories, when distilled down, essentially amount to: “God isn’t who I wanted Him to be.”

So, how does one mature and grow in the fear of the Lord?  I want to go back to the panel discussion I referred to earlier.  Paul Washer responded to this man’s question about what should the fear of the Lord look like in our everyday life.

To continue in and grow in the fear of the Lord, you have to get in Scripture and discover who He is. As you discern more and more who He is, the fear of the Lord will not diminish but will increase.

Washer explained that there are two necessities to understanding the fear of the Lord.

  1. The study of God’s Word — The more you know Him, the more you will reverence Him.
  2. Community of believers — Be around men and women who are examples of people who fear the Lord
As students come back to school, they need to see that their teachers understand who God is and walk under the umbrella of honor, respect and awe of God throughout each day.  In order for this to be a reality, every Christian parent, church leader and educator must be in God’s Word daily and know who God is as He is faithfully revealed in Scripture.

When this happens, the next generation will come to know the fear that leads to knowledge and wisdom.


Author RenewaNation

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Glen,

    Thank you for your keen insight and a great reminder about having the right type of fear of the Lord. Great timing as our teachers are showing up for in-service.

  • Mark Kennedy says:

    Remember the “NO FEAR” slogan that showed up on bumper stickers a few years ago? It was a pretty insipid nostrum, even in our increasingly irrational culture. Sensible fears are important. They give individuals and societies protective boundaries against harmful things and self-destructive behaviours. They also produce healthy respect for some of the forces used for our good – think electricity or fire or, as C.S. Lewis points out, the dentist. How much more should the fear of the Lord and the authority of His Word govern our lives!

  • Hi Dr. Schultz,
    Thank you for the post. Your statement, “He went on to explain that the problem with Christians not fearing God arises from a skewed view of who He is,” is accurate. Many people, who even identify as Christians, do not understand how BIG God is and thus are not in awe of God.

    As you indicated, it is so very important for parents and teachers to communicate the awesomeness of God that can be seen in the world around us and in Scripture. It is interesting to note the recent Barna research focused on the worldview maintained by teenagers of Generation Z. For many of the beliefs and behaviors trends revealed by the data, there consistently remains a segment of teenagers labeled as engaged Christians. These engaged Christians are described as those who have “beliefs and practices that put faith front and center in their lives”. It is interesting to note that the engaged Christian teens also have parents who are engaged.

    I refer to this process of influence as input affects the output. In other words, the relationships, ideas, and activities that a child engages with will affect the relationships, ideas, and activities that the same child chooses to be a part of later. The Barna data about teenagers of Generation Z seem to suggest that when parents maintain beliefs and practices that put their relationship with Christ from and center, their children live similarly.

    Thank you for the pointed reminder.