Fear, reworded

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. Proverbs 3:5

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:7


Fear is not a good translation in this modern age because it’s understood as an emotional response rather than a philosophical or religious perspective. For most of us, fear is the same as terror, fright, dismay, or anxiety. Fear understood this way leaves no room for trust, much less a whole-hearted trust!

A more accurate definition of Fear in these verses would be something like this: 1)awareness of both our own mortality and limitations and 2) of God’s eternal, infinite, and loving nature, and 3) respect for the difference.

I favor Eugene Peterson’s translation, found in The Message:

Start with God – the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Don’t assume you know it all. Run to God! Run from Evil!

The Message (NavPress, 2016 – online at Bible Gateway)

The world did not begin with us, and it will not end when we die. Life managed to exist before us and will continue on after us. There are untold marvels that came before us and countless miracles that we won’t live to see. Everything begins with God, even you and even me. The wise experience this truth as a blessing; the foolish reject it for the curse they assume it to be.

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