The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
~ Proverbs 9:10
A little while back, we looked at the purpose, value, and nature of wisdom. We saw that it is the skill which creates beauty out of the raw material of human life. Because it is a skill, no one naturally possesses wisdom; it must be cultivated and developed. This is why there are so many parental exhortations in the first nine chapters of Proverbs to pursue this most priceless and practical of all skills:
“My son, if you will receive my sayings, and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God.”(Prov. 2:1-5).
But how do we pursue wisdom? The answer is found in the next verse: “For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”(Prov. 2:6). This wisdom comes from above (see Jas. 3:17), and we can never hope to attain it on our own.
The treasure of wisdom rests in the hands of God, but we need to be more specific. What are the conditions for attaining it? Proverbs 9:10 gives us the answer: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” According to the wisdom literature of the Bible, the true skill in the art of living life can only be achieved by cultivating the fear of the Lord.
This leads us to yet another question. What is the fear of the Lord? Now we are on the brink of one of the central, yet often overlooked, concepts of Scripture:
- Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding (Job 28:28).
- Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name (Ps. 86:11).
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever (Ps. 111:10).
- The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7).
~ Ken Boa
Dr. Boa is devoted to a ministry of relational evangelism and discipleship, teaching, writing, and speaking. He holds a B.S. in astronomy from Case Institute of Technology, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary, a Ph.D. from New York University, and a D.Phil. from the University of Oxford in England. Visit his website at KenBoa.org.