The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
The Collins English Dictionary defines wisdom as the ability or result of an ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense, and insight. We would probably all agree that this is an ability that we need if we are to have a meaningful life. No one has to convince us that wisdom is important. But how do we get it?
The entire book of Proverbs is dedicated to the idea of wisdom. Solomon, along with other writers, share their insights on what true wisdom is, the advantages of following wisdom and the consequences of ignoring wisdom. What is interesting about the book of Proverbs is that Solomon designates the first 9 chapters as an introduction to wisdom. The actual “proverbs of Solomon” do not actually begin until chapter 10. However, Solomon uses the first 9 chapters to try to convince us of the importance of wisdom itself.
So, if we are to begin this journey for wisdom, where do we start? It is pretty clear that knowledge is a key factor for having wisdom. Where do we go to begin receiving knowledge?
One would think that we would need to start with education in order to receive knowledge. Although education is important, that is not where Solomon starts us off. Solomon tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. At first that may seem like a strange place to start. But when we think about it, it makes sense.
Why would the fear of the Lord be the beginning of wisdom? The Hebrew word used here for fear is “yirah” which means “awe” or “reverence”. Until we understand who God is and reverence Him for who He is, education and knowledge will be useless. Sure, we may know astronomy. We may be able to identify every star in the sky. However, wisdom comes when we can look at the sky and understand that the vastness of the sky does not compare to God’s love for us. That is true wisdom.
Father, I reverence you and am in awe of your great power. Your love for me encourages me to seek wisdom and instruction. The splendor of creation helps me to appreciate how powerful you are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.