Note: If you are following the “Every Day in the Word” reading plan, you know that we are going to spend the next three days in the book of Proverbs. Because of the literary style of Proverbs I will not attempt to comment on every verse. Instead, I will focus on a few representative verses. I hope it is a blessing to you. Thanks for reading!
Solomon had a great start, a godly heritage. His father, King David, named him king on his deathbed. As a young king, God gave Solomon a “blank check,” offering him whatever he asked for. Solomon chose wisdom, and God granted it. Out of that wisdom, God used Solomon to write three books of the Bible. As a young man he wrote Song of Solomon, a passionate rhapsody of love. Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes as an elderly man. It is his testimony, his spiritual autobiography. And in between the two, in middle age, he compiled Proverbs. Solomon wrote all but the last two chapters.
Proverbs 1:2-6 is like the paragraph on the back cover of a book, the little blurb that tells you what the book is about. Most of the book is made up of short, one-verse statements; many are little comparisons, object lessons called “proverbs.” Someone has said that a proverb is a short sentence based on long experience. Proverbs are little nuggets of wisdom on how to do life. These writings may be 3,000 years old, but they are fresh with relevance.
Verse 7 is the key to the entire book: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 9:10 says the same thing nuanced this way: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” So the goal of the book is wisdom. Wisdom is a world-view that says, “Here is what I know about God, and this is how I apply what I know about God to the details of my life.”
The Bible says that the place I begin to get wisdom is “the fear of the Lord.” So you don’t have to be a genius to have wisdom; you don’t need an education to have wisdom – you need “the fear of the Lord.” So what does it mean to fear the Lord? The fear of the Lord means holding two realities in tension: awesome respect and loving gratitude.
On the one hand we have this awesome respect for the Lord because He is holy and powerful and capable of fierce judgment. He is the one who pronounces judgment and damnation against sinners. We see that in Christ’s crucifixion, don’t we? Look to the cross and you will see the terror and dread of a holy God who would not spare His own Son once He had taken our sin upon Himself. When God looked upon His Son and saw our sin, He did not overlook it; He dealt with it severely, violently, and radically. So the first reality of fearing the Lord is you on your face before the One who is altogether holy, a righteous God who knows everything you’ve ever done or said or thought. We walk in absolute trepidation before Him because we know how He feels about sin and how He deals with sin.
But on the other hand we have this loving gratitude for the Lord because of who He is and what He has done for us in Christ. On the Cross we also see an amazing love that invites us in and beckons us to draw near.
We must come to the understanding that we were born sinners and that our sin has separated us from God. As we stand there in our sin before a holy God, there is nothing but terror and dread for us. But because of Christ – because of His great love with which He loved us – Christ died for us! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He makes peace for us through the blood of His cross. Because of that, we can stand before the Lord as the sons and daughters of His love, and we willingly surrender to His Lordship – and an incredible peace follows. That is the fear of the Lord, and that is the beginning of wisdom.