A repeated theme in Proverbs is the personification of wisdom, how she calls out inviting the simple into understanding. We live in the information age, yet for many, wisdom is elusive. With the Internet, there are boundless opportunities for learning, but there is also the proliferation of inaccuracy. Wisdom still calls.
Proverbs 9:10 (ESV)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
True wisdom, which leads to life and favor with the Lord (8:35), is founded in the fear of God. What is this fear? Should we be afraid of God? As with much concerning God, we tend to lean toward one extreme or another. Some cower before God, while others disrespect him. Does God want us to be frightened of him? How does he feel about those who neglect to bring him the honor he deserves?
I confess I don’t have the answers to these questions, and I suppose I can’t speak for others. I find myself needing to show more reverence. As I’ve shared before, haughtiness is unfortunately a common tendency for me. My first instinct is not humility but to consider myself more highly than I ought. But in my better moments I desire humility.
I think this desire to be more humble could be aided by my private worship practice — or rather, changes in my practices. I could, for instance, involve more bowing and kneeling, maybe even lying prostrate. Perhaps my body might lead my heart and mind into a greater fear of God.
There is much to be said about fearing God, but I’ll simply pull from the other chapter featured in this post.
Proverbs 8:13 (ESV)
The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. …
Scripture is filled with not only messages of God’s love but also what he hates, including lying, injustice, murder, pride, sowers of discord (6:16-19). Do we hate these things too? Do we hate evil? Fearing God involves hating evil.
Is the reason I keep getting tangled up in the same sins because I haven’t yet begun to hate them? Because I haven’t seen them for what they are? Do I not see that sin, as N. T. Wright often explains, lowers me to some kind of subhuman existence? That it prevents me from being who God wants me to be, as one fashioned in his image?
As the woman Wisdom beckons the simple, so does the woman Folly, yet her voice is louder. She seduces with fleeting pleasure that results in death. A greater promise is held for those who seek the woman Wisdom, and that is the very friendship of God.
He calls me friend
Psalm 25:14 (ESV)
The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
I can’t explain it, but somehow it exists. The fear of God, true reverence for him, results in friendship. Moses was one who saw and spoke to God more intimately than anyone ever before or since, and he was called a friend of God’s. Might that I could have such a knowledge of God. I believe it begins with fear.
Join me next week as I look at taming a different beast than the one I referred to last week.