The Fear Of The Lord Is The Beginning Of Wisdom
(notes from sermon given at Sierra Grande Rancher's Meeting, 2004)
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
What does it mean to “fear the Lord” and why is this fear the beginning of wisdom? What is “wisdom”? Who IS “the Holy One” and why is knowledge of Him “understanding”? Proverbs 9:10 raises these questions which are crucial to our growth as Christians.
First, “fear of the Lord”. Why should we fear the Lord? Isn’t God love? Several points to ponder here:
Since God is FAR above us and FAR greater than us, is our Creator
who created us to do His will, and He can do with us as He will, including
destroying us in a consuming fire, we should be fearful. We MUST recognize who
He is and who we are NOT. We have absolutely no hope apart from God’s mercy
upon us and fortunately, God is exceedingly and abundantly merciful. But, we
should never take that mercy for granted. Never.
What, then is “wisdom”? To see wisdom, we need to look at Proverbs 3, 4, and 8. There is no clear definition in the Bible, but rather a series of examples. Wisdom is this, wisdom is that, wisdom was here with the Lord… and etc. From Webster’s 1828 dictionary:
WISDOM, n. s as z. [G. See Wise.]
5. In Scripture theology, wisdom is true religion; godliness; piety; the knowledge and fear of God, and sincere and uniform obedience to his commands.
Prior to our fear of the Lord and our correct assessment of ourselves, all our “wisdom” is actually “folly”. Unless it is based on an understanding of God, “wisdom” can only act in relation to man. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then it follows that prior to the fear of the Lord, there is no wisdom. And, indeed, Psalm 14:1 has this to say “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God”. The logical flip of this statement is “The man who says in his heart “There is no God” is a fool”. What kind of wisdom does a fool have? NONE!! That’s why they are fools! Now some fools have a fear of “a god” or they might worship “gods”, and that leads us straight to the second part of this Proverb: “The knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”.
You should immediately see
that this is singular: the knowledge of THE Holy ONE. There is only 1 God and
only He is Holy. Who is “God”? This is not a trivial question. Jesus said in
Matthew 22:37 that the Greatest Commandment is to “Love the Lord God with
all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”. If this is the
Greatest Commandment, then what is the Greatest Transgression? To NOT do this.
Thus, it is a HUGE transgression to not love the Lord God with all your mind.
It is a HUGE transgression to NOT seek Him and to NOT study Him and to NOT try
to come to a knowledge of Him. Who is God?
We can understand God better if we understand man better. In contrast to the above, man is NONE of these things!
From these things, we can begin to build a knowledge of God and from this knowledge comes understanding. We understand who God is and we understand who we are. We should understand the vast chasm that lies between God and us. We should understand that we are helpless to bridge this chasm and that unless it is bridged, we will remain separated from God for eternity. We should understand that we need God for everything and unless this separation is closed, we will be nothing. Thru a knowledge of God, we can understand His great mercy in calling us from darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). And from this, we can finally begin to get a small weak grasp on the full extent of our salvation….if, indeed, we are saved. If we are not saved, we should understand the burning need to, as Peter says in Acts 2:40 “Be saved from this perverse generation”. This is understanding, and it comes only thru a fear of the Lord and an understanding of the Holy One.
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