MAY 2022


The Fear of the Lord is a repeated concept in the Bible used nearly 100 times. At least half of these are in the following four books: Deuteronomy (11), Psalms (16), Proverbs (16), Isaiah (12). Most versions of the Bible have similar references. However, there are only four references in the New Testament. Strangely enough there are no references to the same phrase in Ecclesiastes.

As we have been reading Proverbs recently it was something I noticed being repeated.

“The Fear of the Lord” is equated with the beginning of knowledge (1:7) and wisdom (9:10). In proverbs especially it specifies a person’s overall attitude or character. It is equated with the hatred of evil (8:13), instruction in wisdom (15:33), and the fear of the king (24:21). It is contrasted with pride, arrogance, the way of evil, and perverted speech (8:13).

It has strong connections with life: It prolongs life (10:27), is life (19:23), and is a fountain of life (14:27). In addition to life, it produces riches and honour (22:4). It is also characteristic of the valiant woman (31:30).

The equation of “the fear of the Lord” with the beginning of wisdom, is an extraordinary scriptural claim. It implies that wisdom without proper piety is impossible, and that proper piety is itself an element of wisdom. The book of Proverbs helps us to understand the close link of wisdom with righteousness particularly when we look at chapters 10-15”.

What can we each learn from “the Fear of the Lord”? That is a question only we can truthfully answer.

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(Based on excursus from Proverbs written by E. Huwiler in NRSV Study Bible.)



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