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The Fear of the Lord

( [email protected] ) Aug 02, 2004 06:09 AM EDT

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom . . . [and] knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10 NIV)

The word fear normally denotes the strong emotion we feel when we sense that something bad is about to happen. Fear may be triggered by danger whether real or imagined. When alarmed our hearts pound and our breathing quickens—instantly we’re ready for fight or flight. The first people who ever experienced this were Adam and Eve when they sinned against God—they fled and hid (Genesis 3). The Scriptures trace the sad history of human fear that followed—and all the reasons for it. Perhaps that’s why one of the most frequent commands in the Bible is: Do not be afraid.

But “the fear of the Lord” is another matter. Fearing the Lord is quite different from being afraid. It’s actually an attitude toward God, a proper response to the awe-inspiring reality of who he is. If we lack the fear of God, we cut ourselves off from true knowledge and wisdom. That’s why God-fearing parents teach their children to regard the Lord with such profound reverence and awe—and to live accordingly (Ps. 34:11-14). Otherwise, if we despise wisdom and discipline, we end up as fools—as people who are blind to reality. And who wants to end up like that?

Prayer: Lord, teach us to fear you and thus to know and to trust you.