The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7 (NKJV)
Fear: fear of God, reverence, piety
Beginning: first phase, step, or element in course of events
Knowledge: in highest sense, knowledge of God (including obedience)
Fools: (always morally bad), who despises wisdom & discipline
Despise: despise, show despite toward (Wisdom Literature & poetry)
Wisdom: ethical and religious
Instruction: discipline (of the moral nature), chastening, correction
If wisdom is the goal, the only way to achieve it, is to START at the BEGINNING—the very first step is to FEAR GOD. Having a reverence for who God is, what He can do, and what He does do—is the foundation on which to build wisdom.
Why is it so important to begin with the "fear of God"? Because God is the source of all wisdom. He is all-knowing, omniscient. God is the standard by which everything is judged. Morally, Spiritually, and Ethically.
Notice that this knowledge is not just "head knowledge", but INCLUDES obedience! That is key. Just because you KNOW may make you seem smart, but unless there is obedience that follows you are actually a fool. For knowing and knowing with action are two different things. Knowing that the stove it hot is smart. NOT touching the stove, because you KNOW the stove is hot, is wisdom.
Can one have wisdom and still be a fool? I think, the answer is "yes". One day I may have a reverence for God and act in obedience to His will and wisdom, but the next day, sadly, I may decide to do it "Rhonda's way". And each time I do, I am acting as a fool.
But thankfully, God is gracious and merciful and allows forgives me of my foolishness and begins to teach me again so that I can grow in wisdom.
Having a heart permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God (Acts 9:31 MSG) is NOT done by just saying that I fear God. Fearing God must translate into obedience. Wisdom is knowing with action—and the first action is Fearing God!