“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
The beginning of true knowledge is “the fear of the LORD,” which means reverence, respect, and awe for God and His Word. A person who does not fear God may know certain facts, but his knowledge is corrupted by his lack of regard for the Lord. For example, both the unbeliever and the believer may say, “The world is round.” But a closer examination will reveal that each means different things by this statement. The believer is speaking of a world created by God to be inhabited by humans. Even when he says “round” he is testifying to the existence of a definite standard by which measurement can be made. The unbeliever, on the other hand, is speaking of a world that is the chance result of an accident in the cosmos, a world that came into being without purpose or design and that is inhabited by animals of various levels that are also the product of random evolution. He does not believe in absolute standards; everything is relative.
Similarly, both the believer and the unbeliever may say, “It is raining.” But to the unbeliever the rain is simply condensation. It is the chance result of unpredictable weather patterns. If anyone is thanked or accused, it is the mythical “Mother Nature.” The believer, however, recognizes rain as the blessing of God, given by Him as a witness of His goodness. A person who does not fear God has, at best, limited and corrupted knowledge.
The close relationship between wisdom and knowledge is shown also in Psalm 111:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” There is no true wisdom outside the fear of the Lord.
Later in the Book of Proverbs Solomon said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). A person does not have genuine understanding without a knowledge of the holy.
The Book of Proverbs lists several characteristics of a fool. One of them is seen in Proverbs 1:7: a fool will despise wisdom and instruction. He has no heart for the discipline learning and attaining wisdom. He is comfortable with the way he is; he does not want to be changed.