Proverbs: The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning

A Study of the Book of Proverbs
By: Pastor Paul Campbell

 

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning

Proverbs 1:7a

Introduction:  The words “fear of the Lord” are found 30 times in the Bible, 14 of them in Proverbs – that’s almost half of the times the phrase is used in the entire Bible.  Thus, we could conclude that “the fear of the Lord” is paramount to the interpretation of the book of Proverbs.

By the term “fear of the Lord” is meant an awe of His authority.  As we would say, “We are in awe” of someone’s ability, their strength, their intelligence, etc.  The reason the word “fear” is used is because to truly recognize the power of God we would, of necessity, be afraid, terrified, of Him.  Awe, or reverence, comes from recognizing Who He is.

We will look at the references in the book of Proverbs on the “fear of the Lord” in this lesson for I think we’ll find that all the others in the Bible are found in those described in Proverbs.

I.  The Fear of the Lord is the foundation for knowing Him – vs. 7a, 9:10

Proverbs 9:10

(10)  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

A.   “The beginning” – means the first in place or rank – the fear of the Lord is the key to knowing God, it is the first, the foundation upon which all else is built

B.   “Knowledge” – all knowledge in general (what is knowable), specifically, knowledge regarding the Lord.

C.   We must first know God through recognizing Who He is before we can begin to know true knowledge about anything else – it is the very first thing we must learn and teach our children.

   “The mother of a family was married to an unbeliever who made fun of religion in the presence of his own children; yet she succeeded in bringing them all up in the fear of the LORD. I asked her one day how she preserved them from the influence of a father whose sentiments were so opposed to her own. This was her answer: ‘Because to the authority of a father I do not oppose the authority of a mother, but that of God. From their earliest years my children have always seen the Bible on my table, and the holy book constituted their entire religious instruction. I was silent that I might allow it to speak. If they asked a question, evidenced a fault, or performed a good action, I opened the Bible, and the Bible answered, reproved, or encouraged them. The constant reading of the Scriptures has accomplished that which surprises you.'”

II.  The Fear of the Lord is a choice – 1:28-30

Proverbs 1:28-30

(28)  Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

(29)  For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:

(30)  They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.

A.   Just as we choose to follow the Lord we choose to fear Him

B.   We’re given a choice to know the Lord, if we choose not to then destruction is our end

III.  The Fear of the Lord is understandable – 2:1-5

Proverbs 2:1-5

(1)  My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

(2)  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

(3)  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

(4)  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

(5)  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.

A.   This “understanding” is the promise based on conditions laid out in verses 1-4

B.   Again, without the fear of the Lord, there can be no knowledge of God, and without learning to fear Him through study of Who He is found in His Word, we will not fear Him

IV.  The Fear of the Lord involves a hatred for sin – 8:13; 16:6; 23:17

Proverbs 8:13

(13)  The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 16:6

(6)  By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.

Proverbs 23:17

(17)  Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

A.   “Hate evil” – this is a general word which is the opposite of good or holy

B.   If we recognize Who God is, and fear Him, and we have chosen Him, and we understand Him, then we will of necessity hate sin, for no one can fear God that does not hate sin – they are antithetical

C.   It then lists the things specifically spoken of that God hates in relation to whether we fear Him or not

1.   Pride – to think we can make it on our own without the Lord’s help

2.   Arrogance – to suppose we are better than God in that we don’t need Him

3.   The evil way – this is an ungodly way of life, a fearless lifestyle

4.   Froward mouth – a perverse mouth, one that speaks without regard for God or for what’s right

V.  The Fear of the Lord brings some practical benefits – 10:27; 14:26-27; 15:16; 19:23; 22:4

Proverbs 10:27

(27)  The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

Proverbs 14:26-27

(26)  In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

(27)  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

Proverbs 15:16

(16)  Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

Proverbs 19:23

(23)  The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Proverbs 22:4

(4)  By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

A.   Physical help – 10:27; 19:23; 22:4

Proverbs 10:27

(27)  The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.

Proverbs 19:23

(23)  The fear of the LORD tendeth to life: and he that hath it shall abide satisfied; he shall not be visited with evil.

Proverbs 22:4

(4)  By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.

B.   Mental help – 15:16; 14:26

Proverbs 15:16

(16)  Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.

Proverbs 14:26

(26)  In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.

C.   Spiritual help – 14:27; 23:17

Proverbs 14:27

(27)  The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.

Proverbs 23:17

(17)  Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

Conclusion:  Without the fear of the Lord, we are helpless.  We are at the very whim of the devil and are powerless against him.  As a believer, we have recognized Him and have accepted we are but worms in His presence – we have become humbled by Who He is.  That is what “the fear of the Lord” is.


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