THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM (Psalm 111:10) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.
When this concept first fell into my ears I rejected it. I rejected the idea that the Almighty was like this, that he wanted people to be afraid of him; to cower like the people of ancient Greece cowered before Zeus and Poseidon. I saw the people of Greece in my head, creating gods from themselves; from their own characteristics. I saw them make the gods and goddesses from the people around them. And so to hear that the true GOD, the Almighty, was the same way, disgusted me. It disgusted me that he wanted me to be afraid of him. I thought to myself, "surely the real Almighty, the one who watched the gods and goddesses of Greece and Rome come and go from existence cannot be like them. Surely he must not be this simple as to have me cower at church as if he were a giant murderer, inches from striking at me specifically." I continued such thoughts and felt that my informal and admittedly false idea of the Almighty was actually more noble than the real Almighty. Time passed and I matured as a person through certain mystical and existential experiences and found that the verse was truly not that petty and that the Almighty was not that way.
The First thing that moved me towards the idea that my idea of this verse was false was that to fear the Almighty was to fear the most fearful thing. Should I become lost in the snow my first fear should not be a bear, but frostbite. And if I should become lost in the desert my first fear should not be snakes, but thirst. Likewise, at this present state, as a living individual, my greatest fear should not be murderers or thieves or exclusion from a social group or spiders or dark places or heights or Satan or public speaking: it should be the Lord. And the crucial reason for this is not the intentions of the Lord, because he has good intentions, but the power of the Lord; because his power is greater than any spider or mass of people or dark place. Everything else, every car accident and rape and explosion only kills the body. An explosion will rip a body apart, an accident will crush limbs...but the Lord can kill that thing that cannot be killed by a spider bite or fatal wound.
From here a Second conclusion can be made, which is that to fear the Lord, more than any other, is to see the world rightly. The first conclusion only assesses the current situation, life, and states that the most dangerous (powerful) creature is God. The second conclusion is that this understanding is good. When I realized the first truth, the other followed. When I saw that the Almighty truly was the being most worth fearing, my other irrational fears of snakes and deep waters became less intimidating. And this was good. I did not fear social situations or individual pressures. Once a poor man came to me and begged I thought to myself, "this person is trying to woo me into giving him money, but I do not think that he really needs it; and he has refused my offer to buy him food or clothing. This leads me to believe that he wants something that he knows I would not offer to buy him. But instead of becoming overwhelmed by his persistent pleading, instead of letting the world cave in I will look to the sky, to the night clouds and notice that the Almighty is not displeased with my decision but glad that I do not want this man to buy alcohol or cocaine." I said that I would not give him money and I walked to my car.
The Third truth that comes from this statement is that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This means that wisdom cannot be had until one sees the world properly and applies that knowledge properly. The situation is similar to the military. In the beginning the recruits are scorned and threatened and told rude things, so that they will fear their leader. The reason why this is done is not because the leader enjoys speaking such sharp words (though some do), but because the leader desires that when obedience is needed, it will be given. During war, when one is frantic and scared, one needs to fear disobeying the leader over being shot, so that through obeying the leader one will escape from being shot. Likewise if a recruit cannot fear or submit to his leader then he becomes a danger to his leader and also to his fellow men. He becomes wild. He is not a noble man for rebelling because he rebels against the false idea that the leader wants people to fear him. He thinks that the leader finds deep pleasure in such harshness. But in truth the harshness stops once obedience is found. And so if one can truly fear the Lord over any other, then from there one can truly begin their travels along the road of wisdom.
Fourthly, this verse is also a good measure to the validity of one's Christianity. As much as it is a word of advice, it is also a word of measurement. As it says, "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." This means that if one is not fearful of him, then, one might not admit his existence at all. In a similar way if I am in the ocean, and if I hear warnings of sharks but do not heed them then I must either think that I am going to be unnoticed by them or that the sharks really aren't there at all. When I admit that the Almighty exists, that he moved past Elijah and made earthquakes and fire; that he sent darkness and insects into Egypt; and that he himself died and rose again, I must let those truths affect me, I must transfer them into existence and see that no tsunami or bear or mad man can do to me what the Almighty can do to me. And if I do not, if I do not fear the Lord, then I must admit that I do not recognize his existence, for though a man can sit in the same room with a snake and not fear it, no such thing can be done with the Almighty.
Fifthly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom . It is not the beginning of a crippling life of servitude towards a harsh deity. It is the beginning of wisdom. It can be the beginning of weakness and fear, but that is only if one pays attention to the command and not the essence of the command. Should two men sin, one fearing the Lord and the other fearing man, then two different prayers would go from them to their Lord. The one who fears the Lord will say something similar to this, "Oh, Lord I have lost my perception of this world, I have lost sight of your weighty love and power. Please, Almighty, cause me to fear you over any other so that I can be in accord with you and every good thing." The other will say another prayer which might sound similar to, "Oh God please forgive me of my trespass. Please look away from me for a time, please give me forgiveness and peace and please help me not do it again." Now the second prayer is not without genuineness but the first possesses a quality of asking the Almighty to show his fearful side. The other is avoiding it. The first is like a child who asks for discipline while the second asks for the discipline to be passed. And here is the beginning of wisdom, for here one is not just obedient but eager for rightness with the Almighty.
The Sixth truth that comes from this verse is that only this fear casts out fear. All other fears will essentially be destroyed for every other creature or idea or place rests under the Almighty. When a man tries to justify a fear he usually states that, "sharks are the most violent fish in the sea" or that "the anaconda is the most dangerous snake in the world." I and others say this because no one would honestly say they are scared of the second most poisonous spider in the world. Likewise, when we are given a right understanding of the fear of the Lord no other animal or situation can scare us as much because nothing else is as powerful. And so when this truth successfully drops through the cage of pride, bounces down the stairs of psychology and lands in the warm waters of one's soul, one can truly fear the Lord over one's self, a mass of angry men, etc.
The fear of the Lord is not like the fear of a caged lion, but that of a free lion, that is in your room, that is protecting you from a jackal.