The final sentence of the introduction that opens Scripture's richest collection of Wisdom Literature (Proverbs) reads . . .
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,Both Matthew (the disciple) and Luke (the doctor) penned accounts of Jesus exhorting the crowd of listeners to fear God. (See Matthew 10 and Luke 12.) The Old Testament Jews, in Hebrew tongue, expressed the importance of yirah (fear) of God. The New Testament Christian writers, with Greek pen, upheld the value of the phobos (fear) of God.
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7 (NIV)
Many answer-seekers ask how the Scripture can, without contradiction, express both the fear of God and the declaration that "God is love" (see 1 John 4).
A good place to begin in search of clarification is the Song of Moses, found in Deuteronomy 32. Within the great Hebrew leader's lyrics we read . . .
Is this the way you repay the Lord,That is the first direct reference to God as Father in the Scripture. The Bible (Old and New Testaments) presents God as a righteous and loving father.
you foolish and unwise people?
Is he not your Father, your Creator,
who made you and formed you?
Deuteronomy 32:6 (NIV)
One seeking to understand the fear of God finds help in connecting the word fear and the image of God as Father (a loving one - remember).
Merrill Unger, in his dictionary of the Bible, identifies different concepts of fear. He rightly identifies the fear of God as a filial kind of love. Filial, remember, is a word pertaining to a son or daughter. Unger explains that the filial kind of love, "has its spring in love, and prompts to care not to offend God and to endeavor in all things to please him."
A believer's love for God, as a son or daughter of the Father, drives him/her to long, seek, and quest to please God. Believers long to bring a smile to the Creator's face.
I know of not one parent who has not heard their child say, "Daddy (or Mommy), watch me!" Kids enjoy seeing their mom's and dad's joy at seeing them dance, flip, dive, climb, play, etc.
Believers enjoy knowing that their Father takes joy in seeing them live to glorify Him.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.You can express your fear of God through . . .
John 15:8 (NIV)
worshiping, singing, dancing, seeing others as He sees them, forgiving others, taking your sin seriously, repenting of that sin, not treating grace cheaply (research Dietrich Bonhoeffer's repulsion to "cheap grace"), obeying His commands, serving others, using your money wisely, minding your own business (see 1 Thessalonians 4), sharing, seeking to please Him (not Man), . . . and ways nearly endless.God your Father loves you. As His child, seek to please Him; then you will know the fear of God and your search for wisdom and knowledge will be off to a good start.
(Be sure to check back next week to read about why Christians talk so much about blood.)
Unger, Merrill F. Unger's Bible Dictionary. Chicago: Moody, 1977.