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Why Fearing God Is A Good Thing

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood references throughout Scripture is the call to fear the Lord. All too interpret this as being scared of God, but when the Bible calls us to fear God, it’s calling us to something deeper.

Proverbs 9:10 instructs:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Now all wisdom comes from God through Jesus and all true wisdom also focuses us on God, which we then live out in our virtuous character We find wisdom when we are in harmony with God.

As professor Peter W. Gossnell notes: “Wisdom was with God when he made the world. (Prov 8:22-31; see also Prov 3:19-20). Wisdom is in touch with God, the Designer of life. . . Wisdom therefore involves observations of God’s created order rooted in the fear of God and thus filtered through a mind that is oriented toward God.”

Proverbs 9:10 informs us that the fear of the Lord is where wisdom begins, yet we often skip the second half of the verse, leaving us with misconstrued assumptions about ‘fear.’

Fear and knowledge are juxtaposed as are wisdom and understanding. Fear, therefore, is more aligned with trust than it is with trepidation.

Wisdom, too isn’t magical or mystical, but a weathered experience of the Lord; it begins with knowledge of God who is unlike us in every way. We cannot manufacture wisdom of our own volition. “The wise . . . begin their educability with their submission to the highest Authority, the Lord. . . Holy One. This title for the Lord underscores his ‘otherness,’ the sphere of his sacredness, separated from the mundane, the common, and the profane.”

The Fear of the Lord’ is closely equivalent to what R. Otto labeled ‘the idea of the Holy.’ Upon encountering the Holy One, one is filled with both fear and trust and gives expression to that awe by submitting to the ethics entailed in the purity of the Holy One.

Wisdom consists in transcending the fallen human world and participating in the divine, the Holy.”

Gosnell writes, “Proverbs declares that people can only be truly wise if they know God and stay in touch with him, growing in deep respect. One must fear him. . . there is a difference between fearing God and being afraid of him. The former involves respect and trust. The latter shows that one does not have awareness of who God is and what he does.”

Wisdom derives from our learned, experienced, journeyed knowledge of God.

So don’t be afraid to fear God.