Fear the Lord. What? We are supposed to be afraid of God? What happened to the whole God of love thing?
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (NRSV)
On the surface of this statement it means that nobody who doesn’t at the very least believe in God can be wise. They would be fools who aren’t even interested in learning. This has always been a difficult phrase for me.
In Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message//Remix it is paraphrased as; Proverbs 1:7 Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning
One of the ways of interpreting the meaning of things like, “fear of the Lord” in the Old Testament is by looking at what the author uses as comparison. On one hand we have a person who fears the Lord while on the other we have fools who don’t even desire to learn or become wise. Fear of the lord or love of evil seem to be one of the opposites they are talking about. Fear of the Lord is humility and its opposite is pride and arrogance.
The proverbial statement is about fear of the Lord, not about cowering in the corner waiting for a lightning strike, but being in awe enough of the Lord to try to learn everything we can about him and from him.