The wisest man in history besides Jesus of Nazareth said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7a; 9:10a). Like many proverbs, this one is layered. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom in several ways:
1. Fearing God grounds wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom like the foundation of a house is the beginning of the house. You cannot have a house without a foundation. You cannot have wisdom without fearing God. The strong structure and beautiful home of wisdom cannot exist without the unshakeable foundation of godly fear.
2. Fearing God produces wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom like a spring is the beginning of a stream. The fear of the Lord produces wisdom like an apple tree produces apples. Put wisdom under a microscope and it has the same genetic code as the fear of the Lord. Fearing God generates and causes and creates wise choices, habits, and priorities.
3. Fearing God cultivates wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom like the work of the gardener is the beginning of harvest. The fear of God weeds out hatred and anger and gossip and laziness and plants love and gentleness and healing words and diligence. Wisdom’s fruits are planted with the seed of godly fear.
4. Fearing God summarizes wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom like love is the summary of ethics. Ecclesiastes is a book of great wisdom. Here’s Solomon’s conclusion: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccles 12:13).
Contemporary Christianity speaks little of the fear of God. If you want to be wise, you’ll have to swim upstream. Fear God and you will find wisdom.