The whole book of Proverbs can be summed up with only a few words: wisdom and knowledge. These chapters are a gathering of important warnings, advice, instructions, and lessons regarding the wisdom and knowledge we can obtain throughout our lives by the power of Christ. Proverbs 1 jump-starts this theme by stating in verse 8, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The Fear of the Lord
There are many people walking aimlessly through life with no fear of where they are heading after death. They have no sense of their sinfulness, and although claim to be righteous, they are mindlessly leading themselves down a path of destruction. These fools hold themselves high up, praising their sin and wickedness, and elevating themselves to the same level of God. I used to be there before Christ pulled me out of this pit of despair—daily I praised the gods in my life rather than exalting the true, triune God.
Proverbs 1:7 states clearly that those who don’t know and fear the Lord do not obtain any knowledge. This “fear” is not distrustful terror of God, but rather, it is the reverent awe and praising response of faith to the God who reveals Himself as Lord and Creator over all. It is willfully submitting our lives to the One who laid down His life for us. He is our Almighty. He is our Majesty. He is our Heavenly Father. He is ruler over all, creator of the Heavens and Earth.
The wisdom that leads to life and ultimately where joy begins is knowing and fearing God. Christians, we must not seek refuge, joy, and hope in anywhere other than Him. This means realizing what fearful prospect it is to stop trusting and depending on God to meet all of our needs, for He is the only One who can truly do so. Only with fear and amazement at our Lord, we will find true wisdom and understanding. Sisters, do not be like fools who do not value Scripture and are enemies to wisdom—but be women who fear the Lord, giving Him your utmost praise (Proverbs 31:30).
The Institution of Family
Solomon was a great king and the son of a great king (Proverbs 1:1). He had immense authority and honor, and therefore, instruction from his father in verses 8-9 were of great importance. Although Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, married his father, David, under displeasing circumstances to God, it states in 1 Kings 2:19 how Solomon showed respect to his mother:
“And the king arose to meet her, bowed before her, and sat on his throne; then he had a throne set for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right.”
God’s design for family is given in verses 8 and 9. Families are God’s plan. They are His design. Solomon assures this in verses 8-9. Families were originally meant to be relationships of unique accountability, and when Solomon was instructed by his father, he didn’t think twice.
Verse 7 goes hand-in-hand with verses 8 and 9. The foundation of the institution of family is instruction of the fear of the Lord. To be more concise, John Piper further explains:
“In other words, if we ask what’s the basis and beginning and integrating theme of the father’s instruction and the mother’s teaching—what is it that runs through all their daily modeling and counseling and explaining and correcting and disciplining that give unity and meaning to it all—the answer is ‘the fear of the Lord.'”
Family isn’t just a happy picture of husband and wife raising their kids to eat their fruits and vegetables or to learn their manners. It’s not about teaching their children to read or attending all of their high school football games. The institution of family is all of this and more…and it begins with God and the teachings of His Holy and divine Word. With our families—with our entire lives—God’s glory should be on display, and we should strive to know Him more. The fear of the Lord—the absolute reverence of Him, the standing in awe of His wonder, and the trusting of Him in every aspect of our lives—is what families are for.
Let us take these teachings from Proverbs 1 and apply them to our everyday lives. Let us be fearful children of the Lord, soaking up all the knowledge He has given to us in His Word. And let us strive to integrate this fear and awe into our families as mothers, fathers, and children.