Why is the fear of the Lord the BEGINNING of wisdom?

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

Someone asked me a question the other day about the fear of the Lord. It got me thinking about Proverbs 1:7, which famously says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (or wisdom). But the word which really struck me this time is the beginning. What does it mean for the fear of the Lord to be the beginning of wisdom? And what’s the end?

Let’s start by thinking about what the fear of the Lord actually is.

What is the fear of the Lord?

The Hebrew word translated ‘fear’ (yirah) can mean fear or terror, but when it is used in relation to God it means something like respect or reverence. It’s the same kind of idea we might say about treating those in authority – maybe parents, or teachers, or police. (We don’t tend to think in those terms these days – it does sound very old-fashioned!)

I think it’s important to say that doesn’t mean we have to be scared of God. A lot of people have had abusive fathers or authority figures and have been terrified of them. God is absolutely not like that! We’ll come onto this more in a moment.

So that’s what the fear of the Lord is not. Let’s look at what the fear of the Lord actually is.

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Mental Health Support – Wisdom & Well-being

What does wisdom have to do with well-being? We’re going to spend a few minutes reading from the book of Proverbs, which is all about wisdom.

Last week’s session was on Psalm 63 – “Where our help comes from”. All previous sessions are available on this playlist.

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Where to find wisdom – Ecclesiastes 12:9-14 Sermon

A sermon on Ecclesiastes 12:9-14, part of a sermon series on Ecclesiastes preached at our church. As you can probably tell, this sermon was actually recorded at home due to the present lockdown restrictions in the UK! I apologise for the camera focus issues at the beginning. I hope it doesn’t distract too much.

In the final part of this series, The Teacher finishes off by giving us a summary of wisdom. Why should we listen to him, and what is wisdom in a nutshell?

You can see the previous sermon on Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8 here. All content from Understand the Bible about Ecclesiastes can be found under the Ecclesiastes tag. All sermons can be found in the sermons category.

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God is… infinitely wise

In the seventh part of the Get to know God series, we’re looking at how God is infinite in wisdom. We’ll think a little bit about what wisdom is, how it relates to God, and what we need to do. As usual for this series, firstly we’ll look at what the Bible says, and then we’ll think through some practical points for us.

What does the Bible say about God’s wisdom?

Wisdom belongs to God

Where then does wisdom come from?
   Where does understanding dwell?
It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing,
   concealed even from the birds in the sky.
Destruction and Death say,
  ‘Only a rumour of it has reached our ears.’
God understands the way to it
   and he alone knows where it dwells
Job 28:20-23

Wisdom is something that God alone possesses. This is echoed in the New Testament in Romans 16:27 where Paul says, “to the only wise God”. Wisdom is something that God simply has perfectly and infinitely, it is part of who he is.

In the Bible, wisdom is about making good and right decisions. (If you’re interested, I have a post about Wisdom and Guidance in Proverbs). It’s about doing what is good and avoiding what is evil. We human beings have limited wisdom – and we’ll come onto that later. But this is not the case with God.

God doesn’t have to listen to advisers to tell him what the right course of action is. God simply knows, because he is perfect wisdom. We human beings are capable of making poor decisions for all sorts of reasons. Maybe we make decisions based on misunderstanding or incomplete knowledge. But God never has that problem: all of his decisions are perfect. God never has to worry about which way to go – he always knows.

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The limitations of wisdom | Ecclesiastes 7:1-25 Sermon

A sermon on Ecclesiastes 7:1-25, part of a sermon series on Ecclesiastes preached at our church.

Death, according to Ecclesiastes, should teach us wisdom. But here, The Teacher says we should know the limitations of wisdom. Wisdom can do many things, but it doesn’t promise an easy life, or solve every problem. Here we are challenged to think about true Christian wisdom, which does not shy away from the challenges of living in a fallen world.

Read the passage online via Bible Gateway.

You can see the previous sermon on Ecclesiastes here.

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The Proverbs 31 Woman: The Life of Wisdom

The very last chapter of Proverbs – Proverbs 31:10-31 – contains a description of the life of a woman which looks almost superhuman. I hear that some women, particularly in American churches, have come to dread the ‘Proverbs 31 woman’ sermon: “ladies, this is what your life should look like…” How could anyone’s life look so perfect? It’s beyond intimidating!

However, I do not believe that the ‘Proverbs 31 woman’ is actually describing any individual. The question in verse 10 is right: “A wife of noble character who can find?” – well the answer surely is, ‘no-one!’ No-one has a wife like this, because this is not describing a real woman.

No. The Proverbs 31 woman is a description of a perfect ‘wise’ life to encourage us to adopt a life of wisdom. Why do I say that? Let’s look into it.

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Wisdom of Proverbs: Guidance

In this article we are going to be looking at the Wisdom of Proverbs, specifically about the topic of guidance.

Everyone is looking for guidance at the moment. In our area, a number of local venues host occasional ‘psychic nights’ where people try to contact a dead relative or obtain guidance from the spiritual world. Mediums, horoscopes, and palm readings are all making a come back. Even among my own friends and acquaintances, I’ve been surprised to discover how many people seem to buy into these things.

The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about guidance, and we’re going to look at a few verses from Proverbs which help us. But first – if you’re not familiar with Proverbs, the most important thing to remember is what Proverbs calls wisdom:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 1:7

If you want to be wise, according to Proverbs, what you need first and foremost is “the fear of the Lord”: fear not in the sense of being scared, but rather an appropriate respect, reverence and awe. In other words, we need to listen to what God says first and foremost – this is God’s world, and we’ll do best when we live in his ways.

So, with that in mind, let’s dive in to what the Wisdom of Proverbs has to say about guidance.

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