The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
(Prov. 1:7, ESV)

Due to the rejection of God and his infallible Word, we live in a world that suffers the consequences of that error. Many today are finding their hope and trust in things that will never bring that right kind of knowledge. They seek it in all the wrong places instead of in the one where true knowledge will be found. Matthew Henry wrote:

We are not qualified to profit by the instructions that are given us unless our minds be possessed with a holy reverence of God, and every thought within us be brought into obedience to him.

For the natural man, living in this world without Christ is their natural state. They do not fear God but go their own way and do their own thing. Professing to be wise, they are fools. Only when one first has their eyes opened to the truth of God and that given by his infallible Word will they begin to grow in true knowledge. As such, Solomon describes these unregenerate people as fools because they not only cannot see but they reject and hate what they are told. Many issues in our culture prove this simple proverb to be true. For instance, consider the abortion issue in the United States. Instead of interpreting the matter rightly and acting according to what God has said in his Word regarding life, procreation, and children conceived in the image of God, fools despise these truths in favor of their selfish interests. To this, we can add many moral issues that plague us as a society. Yet, true knowledge begins with a fear of the Lord, and no one can rightly say they fear him when they dispense with what he has said. Only when their blind eyes and deaf ears are opened will they see the folly of their supposed wisdom and turn to that which is right and good. 

For the regenerate, the warning is more serious. Why? Because they have been given much, and to them, much will be required. They have been granted access to the oracles of faith. They have been given the Holy Spirit, who penned the words of the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, they have an ability given that is not their own. In an act of tremendous kindness and grace, God has brought them from darkness to his marvelous light. Therefore, the responsibility is greater for the redeemed. To know as God has made himself known requires reverence and awe of his Word. It requires a profound meditation on what he says, knowing that those things are a light to our path. True knowledge as offered by a holy God is not given to the lazy but only to those who labor to mine the deep treasures of His Word. Sadly, some professing Christians look like fools because they do not rightly fear the Lord. That is expressed when they dismiss his Word privately and publicly. Instead of meditating on it day and night, they fritter away their day in fruitless pursuits. Instead of hearing God’s Word preached and seeking to bring forth fruit from it, they hear and forget. The greater fool is the one who has been given much and does not use it. The problem, of course, is not one of action but of the heart. First, the fear of the Lord precedes the right knowledge. It is not that we must be afraid of God as his children. It is that we should have reverence for him and his holy character and respond appropriately to what he says. Finding a lack of fear, the regenerate should plead with the God of heaven for a right heart and mind, for only he can change them. Second, one who rightly fears the Lord will endeavor to be in his Word privately and publicly. They will seek his face in the Word and listen intently to it when it is proclaimed each Lord’s Day. 

Proper knowledge comes from a fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord and reverence for him only comes when the heart is tuned to his and responds accordingly. 

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