The Foundation for Wisdom
The foundation for Wisdom
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
The book of Proverbs is widely regarded as one of the most practical books of the Bible. Filled with proverbial statements and insightful wisdom, the book provides guidance and direction in the nitty-gritty of life. It is a book that provides guidance and direction for almost every situation in life.
In the book of Proverbs, the wise is not necessarily the smartest. Even though the individual has an excellent intellect that enables the person to excel and succeed in business, the person may still lack wisdom. In the world, people with incredible IQ and intellectual prowess are looked up to. We see financial prosperity and career advancement as the measure of success. The smartest, the richest, and the most powerful are celebrated.
But this is not the case in the book of Proverbs. Throughout the book, there is a constant interplay between the wise and the fool. But this comparison is not one of intelligence or the ability to make the right decisions to ensure success in one's business. Wisdom is more than just the ability to make appropriate decisions in any given circumstance. Nor is wisdom just the practical application of knowledge.
In Proverbs 1, Solomon sets forth the purpose of the book. The setting for the book is the instruction of a father to his son. It is the instruction of one who has been around the block many times and has learned many life lessons. Thus he desires to share those lessons with his son so that his son might not make the same mistakes he has made.
After setting forth his purpose in verses 1-6, Solomon provides the key to all wisdom in verse 7. When he speaks of the “beginning of wisdom,” he is not referring to the starting block of wisdom, where one begins the journey and then leaves it behind in his search. Instead, Solomon points to the foundation of wisdom. He provides the key to gaining knowledge and insight. This key is so critical that to miss it is to start a journey that is hopelessly lost from the start with no hope of finding wisdom.
So, what is the indispensable key to wisdom? It is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the North Star that must be the guiding light for all decisions. The search for wisdom must be grounded in the realization that God is the source of all moral knowledge. Apart from him, there is no knowledge. Throughout the proverbs, the sage affirms what Paul stated in Romans 1:20: God has revealed himself and his moral law in all creation. Just as the universe is governed by the physical laws of nature, so it is also governed by the moral laws of God. Wisdom is the ability to identify and live within this moral law interwoven throughout all of God’s creative works. This is what the foundation for all wisdom is the fear of God. This fear is not simply being afraid of God. Instead, it is the reverence and awe of god that leads to the obedience of God. Thus the fear of God is synonymous with obedience. It is the beginning of knowledge in that it must continually guide and direct a person. A person cannot be wise and live a successful life unless they see God’s involvement in all creation and his moral law that governs the universe.
The fool does not necessarily make bad decisions in business and life. The fool is the one who lives independently of God. He does not live according to God’s moral law. He does not say, “there is no God.” He does not necessarily deny the existence of God. He lives his life without any consideration of God. He does not deny God; he merely disregards God's moral law.
This becomes the basis by which we examine our life. Are we living according to God’s revealed moral law, or are we disregarding his law to embrace our own? Do we think great thoughts of man and little thoughts of God? Are we seeking to live in line with God’s truth or man’s? The wise seek moral wisdom from God. The fool is the one who follows the moral wisdom of man.