The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
I think this verse goes with the prologue portion of Proverbs, but I want to look at this verse separately. The proverbs are wise sayings that provide lessons in wisdom that we can apply to our lives. The proverbs indicate throughout that the primary component of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.
Later in Proverbs Chapter 8 we are told that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. If we consider how powerful God is and the fact that God hates sin, then we should hate sin also. Of course, we cannot really consider this if we do not believe in God. So, could we could say that belief in God is where wisdom begins?
I think that makes sense when we contrast believers in God with the godless. Those who believe that there is a God know there is a higher power that they must answer to. This knowledge governs their actions to greater and lesser degrees, depending on their beliefs about God, and especially, their relationship with the one and true God through Jesus.
Those who do not believe in any higher power will only look to the will and power of man, and very often, their own self-interest is what governs them. A person who is only guided by their self-interest and the limited understanding of godless men will not behave in a wise way—at least not in a wisdom that is truly wise in the eyes of God.
There is a wisdom of this world, but that kind of wisdom is in opposition to the true wisdom that comes from God. The wisdom of this world is foolishness because it leads to sin and sin leads to destruction.
Those who are immersed in the wisdom of this world without any regard for God despise instruction in things that are truly upright.
They love their pride, vanity, and the things they do to maintain power over others. They love to consume the riches of this world no matter how many people they devour along the way. In-fact, the more people they can place in subjection, the better. To them, this is wise. To rebuke them leads to hatred. They do not want their evil deeds to be called evil, or they place the values of others in such low regard that they do not care what an upright person has to say whatsoever because upright people are weak and foolish in their eyes.
Of course, the wisdom of fools lies on a spectrum. There are those who have no regard for God or human life, then there is the average person who is by nature very foolish. We have all been very foolish when it comes to our ignorance of the will of God and our natural love for sin.
Fear of the Lord comes from God, and since we have all behaved as fools, we should not despise anyone or call someone a fool. To do so is hypocrisy and hypocrisy is sinful—and foolish—for many reasons.
I think it is safe to assume that most of us could use more fear of the Lord. I think it is safe to assume that most of us could use more instruction in the righteous ways of God.
If we seek Jesus, we will be instructed. We will learn to identify sin more clearly. We will find guidance and strength to do what is right. We will begin to see the foolishness of sin and the wisdom of righteousness that can only come from God.
There is so much that we can think about when considering the fear of the Lord.
How can I cultivate a better fear of the Lord with help from Jesus ? Do I have sins that need to be repented of? In what ways might I be sinful and foolish without realizing it? Do I have sins that I once fought against but gave up on? Do I hate “the foolish” in my heart? Do I know when to help “the foolish” through correction and when to hold my peace? These are questions I will be thinking about today.