PASSAGES: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Proverbs 9:10).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding.” (Psalm 111:10).
COMMENT: I think there is a profound difference—or can be—between “being afraid” and “feeling fear.” We feel fear in the simple awareness of a Power greater than ourselves. We become afraid when we judge that Power to be dangerous to our well-being. Our spiritual journey cannot begin until we become aware of the divine Power that is God. But that doesn’t mean we should be afraid of God—not the Power of God in the universe, nor the Power of God within us. We must honor it; we must be aware of just how infinitely powerful it is.
I think what the writer of this proverb is describing might better be translated as “awe.” The infinite Love that is God is so vast, so unimaginable to our human minds, that we can only stand stunned and amazed at its power within us. We cannot cooperate with, become and express that Power of infinite Love if we are afraid of it. Indeed, to be afraid of God would be to be afraid of our own true spiritual nature. But to fear the divine is to be in awe of its infinite potential. Truly, if we are willing to embrace that Power, there is nothing to fear.