“Fear of the LORD” and Its Role in the Hebrew Wisdom Literature


The Hebrew wisdom literature is about the art of success, and Proverbs is a guidebook for successful living (Lasor, 460). The Old Testament also emphasizes the laws of love (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5). God’s people were required to submit to God with total obedience. This they called “the fear of the Lord”. Thus the fear of the Lord in the Hebrew wisdom literature does not mean a servile attitude of submission but one conjoined with hope, love, gratitude and commitment to do God’s will in all circumstances. We see the use of the phrase “fear of the Lord” throughout the book of Proverbs to contrast the wise and the foolish:

Ways of those who Fear the LORD Ways of the foolish
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge Fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate.
Proverbs 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs life, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.

As mentioned above, the Hebrew wisdom is the art of success. In the book of Proverbs we see the teaching that a life that is lived in fear of the Lord is a successful life. Those who are wise fear the Lord, and those who are foolish do not and live a despiteful life. Yet again, we have to note that the Hebrews also emphasized the laws of love. They feared the Lord not in dreadful manner but in filial reverence. To fear the Lord was to be in awe of God, honor him, and give him what he deserves because God is good and just.

 

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