Seven verses into the opening chapter of this great book of wisdom, we find the expression “the fear of the LORD.” Those words occur frequently throughout the book of Proverbs. What did Solomon write about “the fear of the LORD?”
“The fear of the LORD” is not the fear that a child has of an abusive parent (God could never be abusive). It is not the fear of calamity or death. Neither is it the fear of losing privileges or being displeasing to humans in some fashion. When one “fears” God, he reverences Him, standing in awe of the Almighty. One who genuinely fears the Lord will have a desire and willingness to submit to what He says to do.
Let us look at those verses in the book of Proverbs in which we read about “the fear the LORD.”
Proverbs 1:7 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The word “beginning” is from a Hebrew word which means “principal thing” [Strong via e-Sword].
Proverbs 1:29,30 – “Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD, they would have none of my counsel and despised my every rebuke.” Fearing God is a matter of choice. It is not something with which one is born. A person must be educated properly, then choose to fear Him.
Proverbs 2:5 – “Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” It is possible to understand the fear of the Lord.
Proverbs 3:7 – “Do not be wise in the your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.” Genuine fear of the Lord causes a person to depart from evil. Yes, it is possible for people to give up sinful practices with other motives, but fearing Jehovah will cause one to want to cease sin for the right reason, which is to please the God of heaven.
Proverbs 8:13 – “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” God hates all forms of evil, and so should we.
Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Fearing Jehovah is the wise thing to do!
Proverbs 10:27 – “The fear of the LORD prolongs days, but the years of the wicked will be shortened.” Fearing the Lord brings blessings while we live on the earth. All things considered, and all things being equal, one who fears the Lord God and takes care of his body will have a better quality of life and will live longer than the fellow who does not do such things.
Proverbs 14:26 – “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, and His children will have a place of refuge.” One who has a healthy respect for God will be committed to Him, having confidence in His character, promises, and the help He provides.
Proverbs 14:27 – “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to turn one away from the snares of death.”
Proverbs 15:16 – “Better is little with the fear of the LORD, than great treasure with trouble.” Fearing the Lord is of greater value than massive material treasures.
Proverbs 16:6 – “In mercy and truth atonement is provided for iniquity, and by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.” Again, fear of God is one proper motive for serving Him and trying to please Him.
Proverbs 19:23 – “The fear of the LORD leads to life, and he who has it will abide in satisfaction; he will not be visited with evil.” Having a sense of being satisfied as one fears and serves the Lord reminds us of Paul’s statements about his contentment in the Lord’s service (Philippians 4:11- 13).
Proverbs 22:4 – “By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life.” Spiritual matters are of more significance than material ones. The most important things for each one of us to pursue are spiritual riches, spiritual honor, and spiritual life (Ephesians 1:3). At the same time, when it comes to earthly/material riches, earthly honor, and earthly life, the remainder of the book of Proverbs shows us that diligent work is rewarded in this life.
Proverbs 23:17 – “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day.” Fearing the Lord ought to be a continuous, ongoing state of mind.
Proverbs 24:21 – “My son, fear the LORD and the king; do not associate with those given to change.” The New Testament has a similar thought about our approach to God and civil authorities, as it is written, “. . . Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
Throughout the book of Proverbs, fearing the Lord is held up as the right thing to do, showing that there is a connection between the fear of the Lord and wisdom (9:10), atonement (16:6), walking uprightly (14:2), having a place of refuge in God (14:26), and a fountain of life (14:27).
May each one of us strive to maintain a pure heart in which we honor and reverence the Lord Almighty. In gratitude for all that He has done and continues to do for us, let us also love Him with all of our being.
— Roger D. Campbell