In this proverb King Solomon gives us the key to education: ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.’ The Bible uses the phrase ‘the fear of the Lord’ to describe a genuine reverence for God. This is not something to be reserved for occasions such as Sunday services or funerals, but should be an every-moment-of-life awe of God. It is only from this starting point that we can gain true knowledge.
There are many reasons why we need such reverence. First, God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Without Him neither we nor anything else would exist. This alone should fill us with the deepest awe. There is ample evidence for a Creator God: if we look at our own bodies we find thousands of highly complex structures and processes. Even the most basic ‘building block’ of our body, DNA, points to a purposeful designer rather than to random chance.
Second, God sees and knows all things. Not one thing happens in this universe without Him knowing. This includes the secrets of our innermost thoughts, and those aspects of our lives we would prefer to remain hidden. He observes every word and action: all we have ever said or done is laid bare before Him.
A final reason why we should revere God is that He is the Judge of all. After we die, each of us will stand in His holy presence, and if we have never had our sins forgiven by trusting Jesus Christ, we will receive the judgment we deserve. It is therefore imperative that we take God seriously on this matter.
Solomon tells us that the fear of the Lord is the bedrock on which all instruction and truth rests. If we ignore God, the source of all things, our knowledge and learning will be askew. But if we reverently acknowledge Him as we study, we will come to see that all things point towards God. Indeed, true education should ultimately bring us to know Him, and spur us on to a life exploring His wise purposes.