The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.
"Instructed" comes from the Latin instruo, to build up, just as a house is built up. Here Wisdom is spoken of as a person, and in the New Testament it is said, "Christ Jesus is made of God unto us Wisdom." So it is Christ the Son of God who speaks to us in the text. He teaches the fear of the Lord. In the times of the Roman empire, there were various philosophers who had schools, but they were for grown-up people, not for the young. But these schools have long since been closed; the school of Jesus Christ, the Great Teacher, is open to-day, and you may attend it. The fear of the text is not slavish, shrinking fear, like that which the poor in South America feel when the cruel overseer comes to lash them to their work. That is the way that devils fear God. To fear God means to have a solemn awe of Him, and of His holy law. But it means also, having love to Him reigning in our heart, whereby we fear to offend our heavenly Father. Slavish fear is a hindering thing, just as a strong cold wind hinders one from walking quickly and agreeably along the street; but loving fear is like the summer breezes mingling with summer sunbeams, causing all sorts of tender and beautiful things to spring up easily, and give forth their delightful fragrance. There are two ways of receiving instruction. You may get it from a fellow-creature, and yet be none the better, because stopping or resting in that; or you may get it from Jesus Christ, who is Wisdom, and then you may become wise unto salvation.
1. He will show you that sin is no trifle.
2. He will strengthen you to hate and avoid sin. You will surely find that the loving fear of the Lord is a rich, or enriching, thing; and it is also a comforting thing.
(J. Stirling Muir.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.