By Pastor Phil
All of us can use some wisdom and advice for our lives and the book of Proverbs is a good place to start. A proverb is a short, instructive, word of wisdom. In the opening verses of chapter 1 Solomon states his purpose for writing these proverbs: so the readers (especially his own children) will attain wisdom, discipline and understanding in order to do what’s right and live a grace filled life. For Solomon the key to such wisdom is found in verse 7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”
To fear the Lord means reverence, respect. Have you ever known someone, perhaps a family member, a teacher or mentor, you respected them so much you never wanted to do anything to disappoint them? You did your best to please them and live up to their expectation of you. That’s what it means to fear the Lord. We have such respect and reverence for the Lord, we don’t ever want to do anything that would grieve Him or disappoint Him. He gave his life for us on the cross to redeem us from our sins. In light of his amazing love and grace, we want to live in ways that please the Lord. And that fear – that great reverence and respect for the Lord – is the beginning of wisdom.
The word “beginning” in this verse means “first place in time or ranking.” Desiring to please the Lord out of the deepest respect and love should be the foremost thing in our life. If pleasing the Lord comes first that “fear of the Lord” serves as a guide to making wise choices. We won’t choose anything that displeases Him or grieves Him. That healthy fear and reverence for the Lord will be a guide to “doing what is right and just and fair” (v3).
The contrast to the fear of the Lord and its’ consequent wisdom is seen in the rest of the verse, “…but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Whereas fear means reverence and respect, the word despise means disrespect. The wise will respect and reverence God and His word. They will live in obedience to His commands. The fool will disrespect God’s wisdom and His word. The fool lives according to his own standards and desires and despises the wisdom and instructions of the Lord. The fool is convinced he is outsmarting God and everyone else. He or she doesn’t have much use for wise counsel, since already know what’s best for themselves!
Have you heard someone say, “I don’t need God or the bible or you to tell me how to live my life. I know what I’m doing!” Sadly, the end result is described in verses 18-19 and in verses 31-32. Those who despise and reject God’s wisdom and word only end up outsmarting themselves. Solomon said “they waylay only themselves.” (V18).
You need wisdom? Tired of making bad choices and suffering the consequences? Start here: start by reverencing and respecting God and his word. Obey the Lord and don’t even think of taking the path of disobedience (v15). Listen to God’s word and obey him and you will “live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.” (v33). Reject God’s word and proceed at your own peril!
“Lord, I want to live in a way that shows my love, respect and reverence for you. Forgive me of my sins and keep me from anything that would grieve you. Grant me your wisdom so I can make wise choices in every part of my life today. In Jesus name. Amen.”