The fear of the Lord provides wise instruction,
and before honor comes humility.
It is impossible to be truly wise and be arrogant and proud at the same time. You may know things. You may know a lot of things. But, if you are proud and arrogant, you aren’t wise. If you are full of yourself, you are not wise. If you are selfish and self-centered, you are not wise.
Without fearing the Lord, you cannot be wise. Without being humble, you will not be honored.
Why do we have to fear the Lord to be wise? Because, as we have discussed, he is the creator of all things – including wisdom. And he built this world that we live in on wisdom and it’s principles. If we do not fear, respect, honor and worship the Lord – the creator of wisdom- how can we expect to have any measurable amount of true wisdom in our lives?
You don’t find honor by seeking it. You find honor by being humble and fearing the Lord. You seek the Lord with all your being. And when you are truly seeking the Lord you will grow in humility. As you grow in humility and fearing the Lord, you will become a person of honor and wisdom. You cannot force people to honor you. If you do, it isn’t honor. Honor has with it the idea of revering someone. You can’t force someone to revere you. You can force someone to fear you, but you can’t force someone to honor you.
Since we don’t live in an honor culture, this can be hard for us to truly understand. (You may want to read this article on wikipedia to gain a more wholistic understanding.) However, it was a part of the culture that existed when this proverb was written. We have general impressions in current society, especially in the Eastern US. There are still lots of people who think the “family name” is a big deal, and you have to honor that. In these cultures there is a general sense that all “elders” are to be honored, simply because of their age. And while, I would agree that they must know things that I don’t, I don’t always agree that they should be honored.
For instance, if your grandpa abuses people sexually, should you still honor him. Well, in many honor cultures you would have to. I don’t think we should. And what seems to happen in honor cultures is that bad behavior is forcibly overlooked because of the obligation to honor.
But, as you see here, God’s idea of honor is quite different from that. God’s idea requires humility. If your elder is not humble, then he probably isn’t deserving of honor. If you aren’t humble, then neither are you worthy of honor.
Fearing the Lord leads to humility, humility results in honor. God is the only one we honor carte blanche. Everyone else must go about being honorable in this way. Fear the Lord. Be Humble.