What is the Fear of the Lord?

At the risk of confusing the issue by modern use (or abuse) of theological terminology, the ‘fear of the Lord’ denotes piety in the most positive sense of the word, a spiritual disposition that may be described as a proper relationship to God and one’s neighbor. It is wisdom’s comprehensive term for religion.

-C. Hassell Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Poetic Books, p. 24

My Fall class on the Ketubim has begun; now comes the reading. I didn’t blog through my initial years of seminary, why not start with some now? It’s probably all I’m going to be reading anyway.

The idea of the ‘fear of the Lord’ is nebulous at best in our day. Over the years I’ve usually heard it put that wisdom begins with reverent awe for God. Not a bad place to start, but it doesn’t seem to make actual sense of Proverbs. The fear of the Lord in Proverbs is actually more of a set of presuppositions, perhaps a worldview. Bullock continues:

It would not be inaccurate to say that comprehensively the fear of the lord is a world view that attempts to synthesize the elements of human life and work. It is an ‘educational standard’ (compare our objective standard of research) that gives balance to the individual as he relates both to his world and God (p. 25).

As an educator, I demand that students writing research papers follow a certain standard of objectivity. As a Christian teacher and preacher, I demand that they follow a certain standard called the Word of God – that every thought be taken captive to Christ.

Wisdom begins with worldview. Wisdom begins with a set of religious presuppositions. That’s the idea.

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