(becoming) wise, part 1

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

This post started when I was praying about what to say to a younger friend.  When I first started praying about what to say, God laid the verse listed above on my heart.  I was reading through Proverbs at the time, so it wasn’t too surprising that He would call this to my mind.  What was surprising was the persistence of the verse.  I acknowledged that He had brought it to my mind, and then tried to shove it aside for more ideas.  He wouldn’t let me.  I was asking, “What else, LORD?”  And He was saying, “Just this.”  I found that interesting, and important.  So that’s where I started.

I’d read through Proverbs before, but that time they meant more to me.  This seems to happen to me with books of the Bible: I have trouble getting through them one time, and the next time, they speak to me in profound ways.  Proverbs had been doing that to me for days leading up to the encounter with my young friend.  And perhaps my friend was one of the reasons God was illuminating His word for me in a new way.  Of course God knew I’d have to counsel my friend; perhaps He just let me get a head start in the days leading up to it.  (Incidents like that make me so thankful that we serve an ALL-KNOWING God!)

But back to the verse.  This verse struck me when I read it initially for its simplicity.  This verse is often quoted, and we sometimes overlook such “common” verses in an attempt to get at “deeper” Biblical truths.  I think this is often a mistake. 

In its simplicity, this verse doesn’t leave room for haggling or negotiating.  It just states what “is”:  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  It doesn’t say, “the fear of the LORD is often the beginning of wisdom,” or “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of certain kinds of wisdom,” or “the fear of the LORD is one beginning of wisdom.”  It just states that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  We have no other starting point.  We’ve been left no alternative.  If we are to be wise, we must start by fearing the LORD. 

“Fear of the LORD” is sometimes swept under the rug in churches because Jesus is our friend and God is our good-natured heavenly Father.  And both of these things are true, but they leave out the other part of the Truth: God is God.  He is sovereign.  He is spotlessly holy.  He is our Master.  We are His servants.  God is the One we answer to ultimately.  Not our friends.  Not our family.  Not our parents.  Not our teachers.  Not our government.  God.  It’s hard enough answering to those people.  I don’t think we have any clue what we’re in for when we are forced to answer to a perfectly holy God.  And this should cause us to reverentially fear God.  Because He’s God, and we’re not.  And He has some things for each of us to do.  And we need to do those things.  But we’ll get to that later.

So, the beginning of knowledge is a fear of God based on an accurate understanding of who God is –  and, I believe, an accurate understanding of who we are, in light of that.

I’d encourage you to spend some time reflecting on the awesomeness of God.  Try to renew your awe of God, if you feel you’ve lost some of it.  Below I’ve put some verses to get you started.  I know the first two are a little bit longer that what I usually post, but remember: Time with God is never wasted time.

Jeremiah 2:1-19:

1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem:

“‘I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the desert,
through a land not sown.
3 Israel was holy to the LORD,
the firstfruits of his harvest;
all who devoured her were held guilty,
and disaster overtook them,’”
declares the LORD.

4 Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob,
all you clans of the house of Israel.

5 This is what the LORD says:

“What fault did your fathers find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves.

6 They did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD,
who brought us up out of Egypt
and led us through the barren wilderness,
through a land of deserts and rifts,
a land of drought and darkness,
a land where no one travels and no one lives?’
7 I brought you into a fertile land
to eat its fruit and rich produce.
But you came and defiled my land
and made my inheritance detestable.
8 The priests did not ask,
‘Where is the LORD?’
Those who deal with the law did not know me;
the leaders rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
following worthless idols.

9 “Therefore I bring charges against you again,”
declares the LORD.
   “And I will bring charges against your children’s children.
10 Cross over to the coasts of Kittimand look,
send to Kedar and observe closely;
see if there has ever been anything like this:
11 Has a nation ever changed its gods?
(Yet they are not gods at all.)
But my people have exchanged their Glory
for worthless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, O heavens,
and shudder with great horror,”
declares the LORD.
13 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
14 Is Israel a servant, a slave by birth?
Why then has he become plunder?
15 Lions have roared;
they have growled at him.
They have laid waste his land;
his towns are burned and deserted.
16 Also, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes
have shaved the crown of your head.
17 Have you not brought this on yourselves
by forsaking the LORD your God
when he led you in the way?
18 Now why go to Egypt
to drink water from the Shihor?
And why go to Assyria
to drink water from the River?
19 Your wickedness will punish you;
your backsliding will rebuke you.
Consider then and realize
how evil and bitter it is for you
when you forsake the LORD your God
and have no awe of me,”

declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.

Hebrews 12:14-29:

14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. 16 See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. 17 Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

Revelation 22:3b-5:

3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

John 1:1-5, 14:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. . . . .

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Stay tuned for next week’s post: I’ll talk about the second part of the Proverbs verse .

Want to read more?

Start of the fully submitted series: (becoming) fully submitted

Start of the wife series: (becoming) a godly wife

Start of the stewardship series: (becoming) a good steward

Start of the role model series: (becoming) a role model, part one

Start of the Proverbs 6 series: (becoming) closer to God through Proverbs 6

Start of the Christmas series: (becoming) peaceful

Have trouble saying no?  Try: (becoming) a good volunteer: the necessity of “no”

Struggle with worry?  Try: (becoming) less of a worrier

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2 responses

  1. Another lovely and thoughtful post, Brooke! I really enjoyed reading your suggestions and will take away a lot from this.

  2. Thanks, Erin! It’s always so encouraging for me to hear that something I’ve written has been helpful to someone!

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