Proverbs 1:7 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 1:7, NIV: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Proverbs 1:7, ESV: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Proverbs 1:7, KJV: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Proverbs 1:7, NASB: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction."

Proverbs 1:7, NLT: "Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline."

Proverbs 1:7, CSB: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline."

What does Proverbs 1:7 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Verse 7 concludes the introduction to the book of Proverbs. This verse is the cornerstone of the entire book. Solomon is making an absolute statement, against any knowledge that takes precedence over the Lord. The use of "fear," in this context, is not meant to imply a sense of horror, despair, or fright. It is a strong term, for sure. Here, it points more towards a sense of extreme respect. This is the sense in which mature adults "fear" things like fire, knives, or chemicals. It's not panic and terror, but does come with a suggestion of consequences. According to the Bible, true knowledge cannot exist without a reverent "fear" of God.

Certainly there are many very intelligent individuals who do not follow God, so this statement can seem contradictory. In the original Hebrew phrasing, "the beginning" does not point to knowledge, but instead belongs with the "fear of the Lord." The same phrase can be more literally translated as "giving priority to." In this context, the term "beginning" means the chief place in time, space, and order. The contention here is not that one cannot obtain knowledge apart from God. Instead, this implies that knowledge is out of place apart from the fear of the Lord.

Knowledge itself can become an idol and take the chief place in one's life (Romans 1:22). Solomon learned throughout his life that there is a vast difference between worldly knowledge and godly wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25). In this book, he is warning us to put things in the proper order. The "fear of the Lord" is the beginning: it should hold the chief position, the place of priority in our lives, and then we will obtain knowledge and put it into its proper place. However, just because knowledge should not overtake the Lord in priority, we are not to despise wise instruction. Instead, when everything is in its proper place, we will fear the Lord, obtain knowledge, and enjoy wise instruction.