The Fear Of The Lord Is The Beginning Of Wisdom
1st Baptist Church,
Des Moines, NM
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:
God is the Creator. He is the Creator of ALL
things. As such, He owes no one anything, all things are done according to His
will, and nothing happens outside of his will.
Daniel 4:34-35 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. (35) All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?"
God is the Almighty and all power is His. He is
in control of every aspect of all things, from foundations of the earth, to the
weather, to the time that animals give birth, to the boundaries and habituations
of man. The last 4 chapters in the book of Job show God’s power clearly [Job
Acts 17:26-28 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, (27) so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; (28) for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'
show that God is in control of man’s circumstances.
God needs nothing. Because He is the Creator of all things, He owes nothing to anything. Again, Acts 17:24-25 shows this. God most certainly does not need sinful, rebellious man. Man is God’s creation and as such, God can do with us however he pleases. We just saw this in Daniel 4 and we can see it again in Romans 9:15
Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, "I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOMEVER I WILL HAVE COMPASSION."
Man is created for God’s glory. Isaiah 43:7: “Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made", clearly shows this.
God may demand much of us. The greater the gift, the greater the demand [Luke 12: 43-48] and, as an example, [Hebrews 11:34-39]
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.
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.]
The right use or exercise of knowledge; the choice of laudable ends, and of the best means to accomplish them.
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?
God is the first and chief being.
Isaiah 44:6 "Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.
God is the Creator of all things: Genesis 1:1
God needs nothing and therefore owes nothing to anyone: Acts 17:24-25 He is thus, Supreme. There is none greater and none higher.
God is holy. We just saw that, but also
Leviticus 19:2 "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
God is the Judge. And since He is holy and perfect, it follows that His justice is perfect. We have many, many examples of this from Genesis to Revelation.
God is absolutely sovereign. Again, Daniel 4.
God is eternal.
Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, 'Destroy!'
God is Love (1 John 4:8) but God is also a consuming fire
Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (29) For our God is a consuming fire.
We can understand God better if we understand man better. In contrast to the above, man is NONE of these things!
Man is not the chief and first being because God is!
Man created nothing because God created all.
Man needs everything, including his very breath.
Man is not holy. He is sinful, born and conceived in iniquity.
Man is not just and is not the final Judge. He is ruled by his passions and lusts.
Man is not sovereign. He is totally helpless and is in fact a slave to sin (Romans 5:6).
Man is not eternal. He is mortal and his days are like grass (Psalm 103:15). He knows not his own time (Ecclesiates 9:12), he is like a fish in a snare.
Man does not naturally love his neighbor and he is consumed by the fire.
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.