Why is the Fear of the Lord the Beginning of Wisdom?

There are many verses in the Bible that speak of "The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom". Why is this so? What is this wisdom with fear of God? What about the wisdom that has no God in it? What are the consequences?
For a good and correct understanding of a passage, we need to follow the rules of Hermeneutics.
One rule is to stick to the original language of the text.

Rule 1 Use the Original Language
The best understanding is to be found in the original language of Hebrew for the OT and the Greek for the NT. But since I know neither of them, I will use a concordance instead. Another way is to read multiple translations of the Bible. Here is the Prov 1:7 with strong concordance:

Pro 1:7 The fearH3374 of the LORDH3068 is the beginningH7225 of knowledge:H1847 but
foolsH191 despiseH936 wisdomH2451 and instruction.H4148

BDB Definition:

1a) fear, terror
1b) awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear)
1c) fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety
1d) revered
1) first, beginning, best, chief

1) knowledge
1a) knowledge, perception, skill
1b) discernment, understanding, wisdom
1a) skill (in war)
1b) wisdom (in administration)
1c) shrewdness, wisdom
1d) wisdom, prudence (in religious affairs)
1e) wisdom (ethical and religious)
1) discipline, chastening, correction
1a) discipline, correction
1b) chastening

Rule 2 Context
Any verse must be interpreted in its context. So the surronding verses are important too. For the key verse of Prov 1:7, let see the other verses.

Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Pro 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:
Pro 1:9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.

An extension of this context rule is to let the Bible interprets itself. To do that, I look up the verses where 'the Fear of the Lord' occurs and below is the mind-map that show many of the related verses.

Rule 3 Let the Bible interprets itself: Related Verses on "Fear of God is the Beginning of Wisdom"
Definition and What of Wisdom:

1. Believe in the Existence of God - The Creator of All (Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 
2. Fear as respect, worship and to obey God.
3. A moral standard or instructions or commands of right and wrong. They are used for corrections and discipline. As holiness in Prov 9:10, turning away from evil in Job 28:28.
4. Following of the instructions will result in blessings. They are like crown and necklaces that beautify us as in Prov 1:9. They are the duties of men as in Eccl 12:13.
5. The foundation, the basic, the first, the beginning, the source of wisdom is Fear of God.

Why Fear of God is the Foundation of Wisdom?
By implication, any wisdom or knowledge that does not acknowledge God is not wisdom or knowledge. Godless wisdom or knowledge are then
  1. lies. 
  2. evil.
  3. with consequence of ugliness, dishonor as opposite to crown and necklaces of Prov 1:9 (other parts of the Bible tell us the Devil comes to steal, destroy and kill. The punishment of evil is eternal hell etc).
  4. those who have such denial of God and instructions are called fools.
Without God giving the moral standards of right and wrong, then everything becomes relative and essentially there is not right and wrong. A society without any absolute standard of right and wrong will eventually leads to chaos and destruction.

See for example the saying of famous atheist Dawkins :  In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music. (Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (1995))

For  more , Ravi Zacharias podcasts are highly recommended. See Secularism and the Illusion

Lim Liat (c) 30 May 2014

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