How can a God of love want people to fear him?
“The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge, but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction.” — Proverbs 1:7, (World English Bible)
I’m going to lay my truth right here on the line. I don’t want to love anyone that expects me to fear them. Words have all sorts of meaning and when taken out of context they can become distorted and misapplied.
What if fear, the way I understood it, was wrong? What if my idea of fear was nothing like the way it was meant to be in Proverbs 1:7?
Proverbs 1:7, NIV uses the word ‘God’ instead of ‘Yahweh’ and that in order to find wisdom, the starting point is fear. Yet, when Christ came to be the replacement for all I’ve done wrong on in this life, he says ‘not to fear, because he is with me?” Christ was Jewish. Proverbs is the Book of Wisdom written during the time of Solomon, a Jew.
Jesus spoke about action, and karma is a form of action and reaction, too. The Torah does not use the word karma, but there are ‘if this, then that’ like statements. So perhaps, fear, action, and reaction were all interconnected in some way to help understand Proverbs 1:7.
As I started to study the connection between Judaism and Christianity, I came into an interesting word… What if fear was changed to the word ‘karma’ what if to have respect for the rules of life and the universe could be interchanged with this idea of fearing God, or Yahweh or light or love, Abba Father, however, God could be called.
There are times when Jesus himself called himself by other names: Teacher, the light, the way, the truth, and so it could be possible that this word Yahweh meant other things during Biblical times that the layperson studying scripture will not know unless he or she digs.
You can’t dismiss the Jewish faith and the roots of its beautiful culture when studying the Old Testament Christian Bible, and with that understanding, you see that light and darkness, the balance of logic and emotion demonstrates the power of love and fear when brought together as one in a lifestyle.
Here are some reasons why Proverbs 1:7 says fear is the beginning of knowledge, according to the Bible.
1. To fear is to respect.
Yahweh is a Hebrew word. Jews had such high regard and respect for God, that they refused to pronounce his name, so instead, they wrote YHWH or G-d and used other words such as “Adonai”.
To fear YHWH means to be aware and to not take lightly the relationship you have with him. If you fear the loss of something, you cherish it. For example, you love your parents, your child, a boyfriend a friend.
2. To fear is to love.
You aren’t necessarily scared of that person, but doesn’t the thought of their absence makes you think twice about delaying a call or a text? Yes, because as death shows us when we lose someone dear untimely, loss hurts and it’s sad when you missed out on those moments.
It’s in this regard that ‘fear’ is used, not the way that I had or maybe you have had or someone you know. Even though it can sound that way.
3. To fear is to remember.
Sometimes we take a person for granted when we know they love us unconditionally. Children are always aware of their parents’ presence. Even while playing, and you think a child isn’t paying attention, watch their reaction when their mom or dad goes close to the door.
Even the most confident child will rush to their mother when she has to leave knowing she will return, but oh how long the wait feels! The tear-stained face is a signal that the love is so strong, and tender, that their time apart is longed for while they are away.
It wasn’t until I had my own children that I realized this level of bittersweet parting, but also shines a light on why Jesus might have said to be as a child is to enter the kingdom. It’s to long for and to love with such attachment, that being together becomes the joy of your life.
4. To fear is to be close to one another, which is the way towards intimately.
The Bible says that God is the vine, and we are the branches (John 15:5) and this is how we grow. It’s in those quiet moments that I have heard God’s voice in my life, and it’s also when I have understood the reason things happen and what it means for me and why.
5. Fear and love balance one another.
Through intimacy rooted in a balance of respectful fear and alert love, trust builds faith and faith reveals the laws of the universe. Yes, in a way, you can call this karma or maybe your life path, or spiritual journey, but no matter what word you use, intimacy and love are the mechanisms for wisdom.
One Bible verse that talks about the greatest thing to have as a believer says, “Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love…” (1 Corinthians 13:13)
What is love? It’s intimacy? How do people stay intimate with someone they love? They nurture the relationship.
How do humans stay actively intimate, realizing that life is impermanent, and that fear of absence is what prevents us from taking one another for granted? How intriguing that this also works with our relationship to God and his love.
“Help me to love wisdom as described in Proverbs 1:7. Teach me to ask for it each day. Encourage me to see challenges as opportunities to learn more about what my life path is and where I am growing. When I feel discouraged, show me that I am in the process. Where I feel lost, give me insight. I know that behind the darkness, there is light called wisdom and that your truth always can be found if I look. Keep my eyes wide open, and when my eyes don’t see, let my heart hear the whisper that comes in moments of silence. Grant your peace. Amen.”