“The fear of the LORD” was one of the first concepts introduced in Proverbs (1:7). There it was stated as “the beginning of knowledge,” here it is “the beginning of wisdom.”
“The fear of the LORD” is a powerful concept and is foundational to both good theology and a meaningful daily life. If we can get this straight in our thinking and actions, it will empower us to a different way of life.
“The fear the LORD” is generally understood as not being afraid of God, although a bit of that is also appropriate! Instead it is best understood as an attitude of reverence.
At its most basic element, “the fear of the LORD” is the ability to see and appreciate God as He really is – all His moral attributes (love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, patience, justice, holiness and righteousness) and His non-moral attributes (the “omnis” and immutability).
As just, holy and righteous, He won’t let us get away with stuff – God doesn’t enable! But it is all based in His love – tough love! – for us. Seeing God as He really is, helps us recognize how awesomely wonderful and great He really is. That will begin to impact how I live.
Typical of the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, this verse parallels “the fear of the LORD” and “knowledge of the Holy One,” as well as “wisdom” and “understanding.” “Knowledge of the Holy One” is not as prominent a phrase in Proverbs, but carries the same idea – seeing and understanding God as He really, will make a difference in our lives!
BTW, this concept – seeing God as He really is – is the basis of Step 2 of the 12 Steps. Since I am powerless over so much stuff (Step 1), I really do need Him (Step 2).