“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.” Proverbs 9:10 NLT
Often, we read the above scripture in a rush and we eventually miss the message contained therein. I will keep this article as simple as the above scripture sounds.
Wisdom starts the very day we begin to revere God, that is, when we begin to hold God in absolute high esteem. The word “fear” as used in the above verse doesn’t mean “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger”. The Hebrew word used is יִרְאַ֣ת (yir·’at) which predates the English word. English is often limited in that it uses one word to define many things. This is why we go to the dictionary and find out that one word can have different meanings that aren’t in any way closely related.
Fear, as used in the above scripture, can be said to mean “profound reverence and awe especially towards God”. This is why we will see “fear of God” in the Bible and yet see God saying “do not be afraid…”
Let’s get back to business.
Wisdom begins the very day we begin to revere God but to revere God is not lip service, it’s also not merely about studying scriptures, praying, fasting, attending Church services and paying tithes. Most of the things we do in this regard do not mean we revere God. Our reverence for God can only be shown in our love walk with other people, there are no ways about this. Saint John writes
“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.” 1 John 4:20-21 NLT
This is where wisdom begins, it doesn’t begin merely in the knowledge of scriptures but in our reverence for God which is shown in our reverence for others. When we say we love God, it can only be proven in our love walk with believers. Love is the application of the knowledge of God’s word. The essence of studying the scripture isn’t just so that we can argue with it but so that it can improve our lives.
This is like a self-test. You can look back at your love walk with people, if it has not been very good, that means you truly do not know or love God. Your response during music worship is not the display of love for God, your practice of religion and rituals is not the display of love for God and sometimes, our evangelistic activities do not necessarily indicate that we love or revere God! It must be seen in our love and reverence for others. In this regard, Saint Paul writes
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” Romans 12:9 NLT
The rest of the verse is more like it! Love is an art that must be learnt and mastered, it must be deliberate and done whether convenient or not. This is where wisdom starts. Wisdom begins with learning how to treat people right, how to honour people regardless of their position and how to love people even if they appear unloveable. Saint Paul continued
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all” Romans 12:16 NLT
Wisdom is the ability to make good judgments, it also means common sense! When we begin to appreciate the company of ordinary people and stop thinking too highly of ourselves as though we have learnt it all, that is where wisdom begins because that is where we begin to learn from the common man, an access we can’t make use of when there is no love.
So, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom because by that reverence, we love God and we also love others. We honour God and we also honour others. It is not the fear of hell, condemnation or judgement. The fear of judgement or condemnation is an indication of ignorance, it shows that we are yet to truly understand God’s love. Saint John writes
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18 NLT
KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY ONE
We have seen that the fear of God being the beginning of wisdom doesn’t mean being afraid of God and we have also seen how the fear of God translates into a better relationship with others. If we ended on that note, the message wouldn’t be complete.
The reverence for God is not possible without knowledge. Remember we defined wisdom as the ability to discern and make good judgment. It is the word of God that truly make us wise when we have gotten hold of it and begin to walk in it. Wisdom is not in the mere gathering of knowledge but the application of it. It is also not necessarily a function of the knowledge of scriptures but the knowledge of God for even the devil knows scriptures.
We cannot suddenly know God outside his word, we cannot grow to become what God wants us to be outside the word. The word of God is the food for our soul and the element that triggers the divine qualities in our minds. It is by the knowledge of this word of God that we can make good judgement or discernment.
As we begin to walk in the light of that knowledge, which is the manifestation of wisdom, the Bible tells us
“Wisdom will multiply your days and add years to your life. If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit. If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.” Proverbs 9:11-12 NLT
One of the places we saw the promise of long life is in reverence for our parents (Deuteronomy 5:16). And here again, we see a similar result when we walk in wisdom. So, we can say that honour is a display of wisdom, love for others is a display of wisdom. It is one thing to have something, it another thing to make use of it.
We must be deliberate about it. Wisdom is founded on reverence for God, in other words, reverence is the underlying base for wisdom. Many people have knowledge but are not wise and it is because they have refused to walk in that knowledge.
We can only know one who reverences God by how much he loves and honour others regardless of their level. So, it is very safe to say that love is “knowledge applied” and this forms the foundation of wisdom.
I call you blessed.