Read Proverbs 9:10
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (NRSV)
The most common command in the Bible is “fear not”. So it is a little surprising that in another sense fear is commanded. And even more surprising that we are told to fear the Lord.
We rightly protest at the thought that we are to be so terrified of God that we want nothing to do with him and expect only bad things from him. We don’t want to relate to a fearsome tyrant who is just waiting to hurt or destroy us.
So in what way are we to fear God? And how is this related to wisdom? To fear God is to have proper respect for his perfect holiness,his otherness. It is to realise that he truly is the Lord and we do his bidding rather than his doing our bidding. It is to treat him very seriously,to realise our lives are in his hands and are not ours to manage all on our own.
This is wise in that it reflects reality. Fearing God in this way enables us to see life as it really is,to see ourselves as we really are,to see God as he really is.
How then do we relate to this God given his ‘otherness’? Only through Jesus and what he did on the cross. It was there that Jesus enabled we imperfect people to be friends with a perfect God. He allows us to relate to this God both with proper fear and trembling and yet also with love and gladness.