The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
To have right knowledge, one must have a right perspective on reality. The skills of a mountain climber avail nothing if the climber is ascending the wrong mountain. Indeed, they take him further away from the goal. Reality is grounded in God. Thus, knowledge begins with a right understanding of God. And yet, knowledge about God is not enough, as Satan has demonstrated. There are scholars who know more about Christian doctrine than most true believers, and yet they do not believe. And there are those who “sort of” believe, even have convinced themselves they do believe, but do not fear the Lord – the essence of belief.
One cannot know God and do not fear him; for even that small part that we can know should move us to acknowledge him as our Sovereign Ruler whom we exist to serve. To know God is to grasp that we live for his glory. To know God is to grasp that all creation exists for his glory. To fear God is not a mere matter of being a bit frightened by him as we would a supernatural being. Surely to be in the presence of God would be an unnerving experience as demonstrated by Isaiah and John. Surely we should tremble to be in the presence of Holiness. But the essence of biblical fear is about right relationship – the relationship of the Creator and his creatures.
It is this matter of relationship which accounts for the latter half of the proverb – that fools despise wisdom and instruction. They despise true wisdom and instruction because such things require that they know and accept a right relationship with their Maker. They must acknowledge God as Lord over them, and that they refuse to do. Thus, however they may grow in mastering information, they are in the same dilemma as the misguided mountain climber.
Keep this in mind as you study and meditate on these proverbs. For if you begin on any other path than the fear of the Lord, they will only help you move more easily along the wrong path. And how do we know the right path? By passing through the right Gate, Jesus Christ. In him alone will these proverbs take you along the path of knowledge and righteousness.
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