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The Whole Duty of Man


The dictionary defines duty as an act or a course of action that is required of one by position, social custom, law, or religion: The implication is that duty is a service, function, or task assigned to one.  Duty can also be expressed as a moral obligation to perform a task related to one’s responsibility. As Christians, we have a moral obligation or duty to love and serve the Lord and to walk according to His commandments and statues.

Eccl 12:13 (KJV) declares “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandment for this is the whole duty of man.

  1. How would you define the word fear in relations to this verse of scripture?
  2. Define commandments.
  3. How do you think they are related?

Let’s review this passage of scripture in terms of those two key words - “fear” and “commandments”.


In regards to a relationship with God, fear, denotes respect or a reverential awe of God.  Fearing God acknowledges that God’s omnipotence and power are clearly understood. Essentially, it is a respectful awe of God; a respect for His sovereignty, power and glory. It also includes an acknowledgement of His anger and wrath in relations to evil, sin and disobedience. The essential elements involved in our walk with God include being obedient to His Word and serving Him in love. This deferential response to God acknowledges that one understands that He is the establisher of all that is good, perfect and right.

Let’s look at some key verses of scriptures relating to the fear of the Lord:

Deuteronomy 10:12, 20-21(NIV) records, “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.”

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7).

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever (Psalm 19:9).

Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name (Psalm 86:11).

4.  Why is the fear of God the beginning of wisdom?

Knowledge can be defined as expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education. Wisdom is the ability to apply that knowledge. Importantly, knowledge cannot be properly applied without godly wisdom and spiritual application of the Word of God in our lives through the working of the Holy Spirit within us.


Proverbs 6:23 “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life”.

Proverbs 7: “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.”

Proverbs 7:2 “Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.”

Ecclesiastes 13:12 asserts that we are to keep God’s commandments. The commandments of God are the patterns and rules that God has given us through his Word, the Bible.  When we obey God’s Word we live in continuous peace and joy. The fruit of the Spirit become evident in our lives and we enjoy a loving relationship with God.

 Review questions 1, 2, and 3 above.  Has your answer expanded or changed after studying this lesson?

 Additional Scriptures related to God’s Word:

1 Thessalonians 1:5

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Psalm 119:50

John 1:1-5

John 1:14

John 3:19-20

Psalm 119:105