“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
The above verse has often been quoted as a proof text for the necessity of salvation as a prerequisite to true knowledge, and rightly so. But how does one arrive at this “fear of the LORD”? The purpose of Proverbs is stated thus: “To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 1:2–4).
Early in its chapters the foundation for its promise of wisdom is laid: “My son, if thou wilt receive my words” (2:1), “incline thine ear” (2:2); “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding” (2:3); “If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasurers” (2:4); and “Hide my commandments with thee” (2:1).
When these requirements are met—reading the word, listening to its precepts, praying for wisdom, diligent study, memorization, and meditation—“Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (2:5), and “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (9:10).
Thus on this sure foundation are built the promises of Proverbs. “He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly” (2:7); “He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of His saints” (2:8). Discretion shall preserve thee (2:11); understanding shall keep thee (2:11); we are delivered from the way of the evil man (2:12). We will walk in the . . . way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous (2:20). “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep [guard] my commandments: For length of days [this is actually a reference to eternal life. Note Psalm 23:6—‘I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever’], and long life, and peace shall they add to thee” (Proverbs 3:1,2). CJH