The phrase “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of … knowledge” (Pr 1:7) is the cornerstone of Proverbs. Fear is actually another word for reverence or worship, suggesting that wisdom begins when we properly acknowledge who God is and offer him the worship he deserves. It reminds us that life’s true significance is discovered when we approach God with an attitude of humility and awe, not dread and fright.
The remainder of Proverbs explains how we can fear God in our daily lives. Whether the topic is wealth, work or marriage, we are called to give God the honor due him by obeying his will in each of these areas. A wise person will humbly seek God’s perspective on a matter before acting, but the fool will throw caution to the wind and act on his or her own impulses. What’s the result of ignoring God and doing it our way? “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Pr 14:12).