The first 7 verses of chapter 1 in the book of Proverbs outline what the study of the Proverbs are meant to accomplish. Verses 1-6 state that they are a means for attaining wisdom and discipline, for understanding and guidance, and for insight into the riddles, parables and sayings of the wise. And then there is verse 7 which states: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
It is said that in order to make a journey, all you need to do is take the first step, and in the study of Proverbs, the first step is coming to understand the meaning of verse 7. The “fear” of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. It seems to me that the key to whatever else the proverbs of Solomon may say, that this is important, and has been given prominence, as it is the finishing thought of the prologue of the entire book! So grasping what is meant by “the fear of the Lord,” becomes the first step on the path to wisdom.
The fear of the Lord is to have a reverential awe respect of God and his power, to trust in him and believe in his character. To God, nothing is impossible, and as his children, we must trust in his ability to guide and protect us. He is so vast and all-encompassing that we cannot even begin to fathom all of the knowledge he holds; it’s the wisdom of the ages, the workings and laws of the universe, of physics, of all that we see, and of all that we are unaware. To fear the Lord is to hold God in such high esteem as to be fearful that you would disappoint him. It is an understanding that our knowledge is limited, and that God’s is not, and that God is the root, the foundation, the beginning of knowledge.
So the fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom, and wisdom is the ability to apply understanding to our daily lives. Understanding is the result of knowledge, and knowledge is the seeking of truth, the quest of the unknown. Therefore the first step in the pursuit of wisdom is to recognize and admit that we just don’t know all the answers – we don’t know it all! We fell from grace, when we ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and it was at that moment when we supposed ourselves as equal to God in our knowledge and understanding. So in the effort to gain true wisdom, we must first reverently and humbly admit to God (and ourselves) that we do not know, and are not equal to him in his vast wisdom.
This, then is how the journey begins.