September 04, 2011

Wisdom Starts With Fear

Exodus 20:18-21

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


To want wisdom is to want Jesus. But then the words “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” can be confusing.

The phrase “fear of the LORD” occurs often in Proverbs. Thankfully it doesn’t mean what we sometimes think it means—that you have to be scared of God. But it does mean that in our relationship with God there should be a healthy respect and awe.

What God is saying here has to do with honor, recognizing who God is and all he has done for us, because he loves us and is faithful.

Maybe it’s a bit like the way we might respect a guide leading us through a mountain pass that has all kinds of dangers and pitfalls and high cliffs. We honor the guide not simply because “he says so” but because you know he is the one who will get you through. You have a healthy respect for someone who knows far more than you—and in whom you have to trust to get you where you need to go.

Exodus 20:20 puts it in perspective: “the fear of God will … keep you from sinning.”

If sin threatens to get me off the path, I want the “fear” that keeps me on it.

Lord, I confess that sometimes I resent your laws and confuse them with keeping me from enjoying freedom. Thank you that your love protects me. Please give me grace this day to follow you. Amen.

About the author — Henry Kranenburg

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