Wisdom and the Fear of the Lord

March 28, 2022 By Samuel Knowles

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,    to understand words of insight,to receive instruction in wise dealing,    in righteousness, justice, and equity;to give prudence to the simple,    knowledge and discretion to the youth—Let the wise hear and increase in learning,    and the one who understands obtain guidance,to understand a proverb and a saying,    the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
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Proverbs 1:1-7 , ESV

The whole purpose of these wisdom walks and why I’m doing this is found in Proverbs 1:2-4.

To know wisdom and instruction,    to understand words of insight,to receive instruction in wise dealing,    in righteousness, justice, and equity;to give prudence to the simple,    knowledge and discretion to the youth—
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Proverbs 1:2-4, ESV

But to prepare for our walk today, let’s pray through v. 5-6. Feel free to voice your own prayer from it or pray with me here.

Holy Father, we come to you in Jesus’ name and ask that you would give us ears to hear, minds to increase in learning, and humble hearts to receive the wisdom, learning and guidance from Your Holy Spirit. May we understand your proverbs and walk in them to the glory of Your great name and the benefit of others. Amen.

The main path we’ll be on is going to revolve around verse 7: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

This is the starting point to wisdom. There is no getting to true wisdom apart from the knowledge of the fear of the Lord. But first, let’s talk about the word fear. Say it out loud. What comes to your mind when you hear that word? How do you define fear? The first definition of it in Webster is:

1a : an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. b (1) : an instance of this emotion (2) : a state marked by this emotion.
From https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fear

Isn’t funny how just the thought (anticipation) of potential danger and/or trouble can evoke fear sometimes even worse than the actual event itself if it does wind up occurring?

Since it can be such an unpleasant topic, let’s have a little educational fun with fear to start with: Do you know or can you guess these fears (phobias)? (Scroll to the bottom of the post to see the answers, but don’t cheat!)

  • Heliophobia
  • Chaetophobia
  • Deipnophobia
  • Arithmophobia
  • Selenophobia
  • Ephebiphobia
  • Genuphobia
  • Sesquipedalophobia
  • Coulrophobia
  • Aulophobia
  • Omphalophobia
  • Phobophobia

Though most of the list above are not very ubiquitous, there is one not on that list that we all struggle with to some degree or another. It is the one that battles most viciously against the fear of the Lord. Guesses? …….. The fear of man. Take a moment and either write down or think through some specific ways we suffer from the fear of man. …… All answers boil down to pride. As we get ready to walk through the Proverbs, may we humble ourselves to receive His wisdom in every aspect of our lives. The fear of the Lord is laying the foundation; Our starting line for the Wisdom Walks we will go on. We’ve just done our stretches and our warm up. Ready? Set? Read v.7 again

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;    fools despise wisdom and instruction.
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Proverbs 1:7, ESV

Now read Job 28:28

28 And he said to man,    ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom,and to turn away from evil is understanding.’”
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Job 28:28, ESV

Why is being afraid of the Lord defined as wisdom? Doesn’t that sound like the opposite of the words we use to try and tell others about Him? “He loves us”; “He wants the best for us”; “He is our Shelter we run to when we’re afraid”. So why is fearing Him so directly tied to wisdom? When you are afraid of something, it has control of you. It directs what you do, what you say, how you treat others. And when that fear is rooted in anything but Jesus, it never has a good outcome.

We’ve looked at fear, so now what about wisdom? What is wisdom? Is it intelligence? Intelligence is the aptitude to retain and regurgitate information. (2 + 2 = 4) Is it knowledge? Knowledge is the ability to interpret data/information and make logical deductions/conclusions. (2 + 2 = 4 therefore I will need to by 2 more tickets so all 4 of us can go to the movie since I currently only have 2 tickets)

Wisdom is looking beyond the surface / obviousness of data and information to the heart of God for a circumstance or situation. That’s why Paul and Timothy refer to the “peace of God which surpasses understanding” Philippians 4:7

The wisdom of God can even seem foolish and/or contradictory to intelligence or knowledge from a worldly sense.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

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1 Corinthians 1:18-20; 25, ESV

What are some ways in which you’ve seen the wisdom of God contradict the “intelligence/knowledge” of the world? Was it evident in the beginning or after the fact? Was it difficult to trust His wisdom over worldly knowledge? Why?

The final take away I want to leave you with is to remember that the BEGINNING of knowledge is the fear of the Lord which is wisdom, not the entire relationship. Before we can know the holiness of God, we must realize our wretchedness before Him. Before we can know the kindness of God, we must realize the judgment we deserve. Before we can know the mercy of God, we must realize that we deserve death. That should initially scare anyone, but those who call upon Jesus do not stay there.

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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1 Corinthians 15:56-57, ESV

If you’re in a group right now, pray for each other. If you’re not, reach out to someone you trust to have them pray with you.

Share with each other any specific fears you may have that are controlling you over the fear of the Lord. Then, each of you choose content from the passage Proverbs 1:1-7 to have someone pray over you. Ask specifically for the Lord to open our eyes, ears and hearts to truly walk in the fear of the Lord which is wisdom as we start out on our Wisdom Walks together

Answers to Phobias List Above

Chaetophobia – Hair; Deipnophobia – Dinner Parties; Arithmophobia – Numbers; Selenophobia – Moon; Ephebiphobia – Youth; Genuphobia – Knees; Sesquipedalophobia – Long words (irony); Coulrophobia – Clowns; Aulophobia – Flutes; Omphalophobia – Belly buttons; Phobophobia – Phobias.

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