Wisdom vs. Knowledge & Fear

Does God want us to go through life being afraid of Him ?
If He does ... why ?

Proverbs 9:10 [New American Standard Bible]
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Proverbs 1:7 [New King James Version]
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Psalm 14:1 [New King James Version]
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."

This matter has troubled me for many years. I am now exploring it in this monograph because I believe the Holy Spirit has decided it is time for me to understand this. I hope it helps you also. I am satisfied that knowledge and wisdom go together but they are different things. Plenty of people who possess great amounts of knowledge do unwise things. Career politicians are a good example.

Let's get on the same page by examining some definitions of the three troubling words. This will allow you to have confidence in what I am telling you.

Dictionary.com & Thesaurus.com
wisdom [wiz-duhm]
1. the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

2. scholarly knowledge or learning: the wisdom of the schools.

3. wise sayings or teachings; precepts.

4. a wise act or saying.

Synonyms: acumen, astuteness, balance, brains, caution, circumspection, clear thinking, comprehension, discernment, discrimination, enlightenment, erudition, experience, foresight, good judgment, gumption*, horse sense, information, intelligence, judgment, judiciousness, knowledge, learning, pansophy, penetration, perspicacity, poise, practicality, prudence, reason, sagacity, sageness, sanity, sapience, savoir faire, savvy*, shrewdness, solidity, sophistication, stability, understanding

Antonyms: ignorance, stupidity
knowledge [nol-ij]
1. acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition: knowledge of many things.

2. familiarity or conversance, as with a particular subject or branch of learning

3. acquaintance or familiarity gained by sight, experience, or report

4. the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension.

Synonyms: ability, accomplishments, acquaintance, apprehension, attainments, awareness, cognition, comprehension, consciousness, dirt*, discernment, doctrine, dogma, dope*, education, enlightenment, erudition, expertise, facts, familiarity, goods*, grasp, inside story, insight, instruction, intelligence, judgment, know-how, learning, light*, lore, observation, philosophy, picture, power*, principles, proficiency, recognition, scholarship, schooling, science, scoop*, substance, theory, tuition, wisdom

Antonyms: ignorance
fear [feer]
1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.

3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.

4. reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.

5. something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.

Synonyms: abhorrence, agitation, angst, anxiety, aversion, awe, bęte noire, chickenheartedness, cold feet, cold sweat, concern, consternation, cowardice, creeps, despair, discomposure, dismay, disquietude, distress, doubt, dread, faintheartedness, foreboding, fright, funk, horror, jitters, misgiving, nightmare, panic, phobia, presentiment, qualm, recreancy, reverence, revulsion, scare, suspicion, terror, timidity, trembling, tremor, trepidation, unease, uneasiness, worry

Antonyms: bravery, courage, fearlessness, heroism, unconcern

Let's first dispatch the fool. We, and they, call them by the label atheist; the 'a' meaning 'without' and 'theist' meaning belief in a deity. Deist also means belief in a deity ... any deity. Agnostic means without knowledge ... people who simply are not convinced one way or another. Gnosis is knowledge of a hidden kind. The gnostic believes he knows spiritual truth not generally revealed.

Then there are the Believers ... those who claim a personal relationship with God through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. We call ourselves ,saved, or ,born again' in the Spirit.

When I was a child going through my education in parochial schools, I was taught about God and to be afraid of God. Here is the simple rationale for being afraid of God: assuming He exists as defined by scripture and us, He has the power of life and death. No living organism naturally wants to die. Survival and reproduction are the foundations of living entities. The Bible itself says so.

Genesis 1:22 [New King James Version]
And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."

God's intent is that living things thrive. Throughout the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, He tells the people Israel of His plans ...

Jeremiah 29:11 [New International Version)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

But since the sin of Adam the earth has become hostile to life. Virtually every living thing is prey; food for something else on the food chain. Even humans are eaten by animals and other humans, though the Lord forbids it. The lord forbids many things which go on anyway. He does not prevent them from happening. He allows the Ruler of this World, Satan, to strut about working his evil until God declares the end of creation as it now exists.


Every living thing lives in a state of fear for its life and its offspring. If botanical entities are sentient or have instinct, they fear the insects and plant diseases which can destroy them. Almost every wild animal on earth fears man because God gave man dominion, which he has squandered.

Humans fear many things. Depending on their circumstances, they fear hunger, thirst, exposure, violence, thieves, marauders, authorities, "the system", police, war, neighbors, etc. etc. etc. Mostly, they fear injury and death ! This is natural. Others fear loss of love or loved one, failure in work, business, or profession, ridicule by others, poverty, dependence, and lots of things to do with the psyche rather than the body.

But humans were created with a supernatural component ... the Spirit God breathed into man making him a "living soul".

The soul of man is eternal. It is the actual 'breath' of God Himself. God is the only being with the power to make and unmake souls.

Matthew 10:28 [New King James Version]
Jesus speaking: "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Therefore, since the Son of God incarnate has told us to fear God, we do, yet we who are saved and have a loving relationship with Him through Christ, have no reason to be afraid.

Matthew 28:20b [New American Standard Bible]
"and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."


What do you know ?
If you can read this, you know a lot of things.
Some have to do with survival, job skills, relationships, trivia, and many, many areas of different kinds. You have all sorts of knowledge. But do you know God ?

Most people have heard that there is a God, Creator, Supreme Ruler. Some people have made a point of trying to find out more about God ... others have no interest. No matter how much you know, or think you know, about God, it is not the same as knowing God.

As the definition and synonyms reveal, you can possess enormous amounts of knowledge in terms of facts and ideas, yet lack wisdom with which to apply the knowledge successfully. You can be the most educated person on earth, knowing more than anyone else does or ever has, and still be spiritually ignorant.

Many people fear God. The are afraid of what He might do to them because of their thoughts, words, and actions. If you study New Testament scripture, you discover that God is not "out to get you" as you may have been told.

The reality is that God wants to redeem you so your soul will come to life again in the knowledge of salvation.


At the close of this monograph you will find a list of Bible verses addressing the topic of wisdom. I did not include every instance because there are too many. If you want to see more you can go online to this outstanding web site Biblegateway.com and use it to search for keywords in the Bible.

So, how does wisdom begin with the fear of the Lord ?
Here is an outstanding example ...

Hebrews 11:7 [NIV]
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

What you see here is that Noah knew God, Noah believed God, and Noah carried out God's instructions, thus saving mankind for future redemption.

How is it that Noah, and Seth, Enoch, and numerous others before Noah, knew God ? It was then as it is today. God reveals Himself to us. If an angel of the Lord actually appeared to you, I am confident you would be terrified with fear like you've never known. That was the reaction of people in the Bible who came face to face with angels.

The fear is a manifestation of your recognition that God IS. Having this knowledge can impel you to seek God. When you do seek God, God responds. Most people do not really seek God in a relationship way. They prefer a distant awareness of God because He is no doubt terrifying. Any enormous display of power brings terror. A nuclear explosion brings terror. The being we call God is vastly, infinitely, more powerful than the greatest earthquake or volcano.

This is the beginning of wisdom.
Wisdom in speaking in Proverbs 8 [NIV]

22 The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
    before his deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
    at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
    when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
    before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before he made the world or its fields
    or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when he established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when he gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
30  Then I was constantly at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in his presence,
31 rejoicing in his whole world
    and delighting in mankind.
32 “Now then, my children, listen to me;
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
    watching daily at my doors,
    waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
    all who hate me love death.”

God began with wisdom.
To have wisdom you must know God.
To know God you must know Jesus.
If you want to know Jesus personally,
click on this link I Want to Know Jesus

Selected Verses

Job 28:12 [NASB]
But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?

Job 28:28 [NASB]
And to man He said, "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding."

Isaiah 33:6 [NIV]
He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.

Deuteronomy 6:2 [NIV]
so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.

Matthew 10:27-31 [NASB]
"Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 28:8 [NASB]
And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

Luke 1:50 [NASB]
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

Luke 1:73-75 [NIV]
the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Luke 12:5 [NIV]
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Luke 12:32 [NKJV]
"Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

John 12:15 [NKJV]
"Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey' colt."

Acts 13:26 [NKJV]
Men and brethren, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you the word of this salvation has been sent.

Romans 8:15 [NIV]
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."

Romans 11:20 [NKJV]
Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.

2 Timothy 1:7 [NKJV]
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Hebrews 11:7 [NIV]
By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

Hebrews 12:28 [NKJV]
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

1 Peter 3:15 [NKJV]
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

1 John 4:18 [NASB]
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

Revelation 14:7 [NASB]
and he said with a loud voice, "Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters."

Revelation 19:5 [NASB]
And a voice came from the throne, saying, "Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great."

Written by Wayne Hepburn, August 2012. I herewith place this document in the Public Domain

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