Proverbs 9:10. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Psalm 130:4. But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
It is the grace of God that brings the fear of God.
If fearing God is the beginning of wisdom, and if you want to be wise (who doesn’t), then you must understand what fearing God is and where this heart attitude comes from.
Psalm 130:4 tells us that the forgiveness, grace, and love of God are what produce the fear of the Lord in our hearts. This is probably backwards from what we usually think. We fear God because we are afraid he won’t forgive us. But one of the most important gospel truths is that everything always begins with God’s grace.
Grace is not something God doles out once we’ve repented or once we’ve learned what his wrath is and have decided we don’t want that wrath to crush us. Grace doesn’t come after we’ve decided we are terrible people. Grace is what shows us that we are terrible and terribly in need of a savior. Grace precedes everything.
Paul put it this way: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4.
God’s kindness produces repentance. Often I think we have it backwards. We believe that if we repent, then God will start being kind to us. Nope.
Grace is God’s nature. It is how He functions and relates to us. In fact you cannot relate to God apart from grace. Grace is not earned or deserved. Grace is not received once we “figure it out” or realize we should fear God and then God bestows grace upon us.
Grace is first. Forgiveness has happened. All sins have been propitiated for. Redemption is provided for all. Then we must see our need for it and receive it. We repent. Then we fear God.
If you think that your level of fear of God is earning you more forgiveness or more grace, then you are mistaken. God’s abundant ever present grace is what will cause you to fear Him. To bow down at his feet. When we see that He alone is holy and loving and that we are sinful and broken, and yet received by God, the only natural response is to now fear this God.
And that is wisdom.