The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, says our text. It is a timeless truth, even as God through the mouth of Job hath declared; Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. (Job 28:28 b) If a man or woman learn not this truth, the whole of their life is destined for absolute ruin.
I think it appropriate to say, may the fear of the LORD be learned in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come. Fear learned in that fateful hour is most dreadful indeed. This life is but a vapor, let us stand in awe of our Creator today; not tomorrow, not next week or at a convenient time- but today.
There are times when we simply need to reexamine the most basic ideals in Christianity, as a means of recalibrating our thinking. At the foundation of all Christian belief is the most fundamental fact; The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. Notice what is inferred; to despise wisdom and instruction is to walk devoid of the fear of the LORD. The knowledge of God and His law is primarily in view. To fear the LORD is to desire to know Him and His will- that the one fearing might express that fear by simple obedience.
Our passage literally says, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of understanding. Understanding means that we perceive the meaning of something so as to understand it's significance or cause, etc., and be able to explain what is understood. The reverential awe of God undergirds the wise so that their desire is for wisdom and instruction. Consider this. Their desire is to know God and His will. They do what it takes to learn of Him. Indeed, the wise are built on the knowledge of God's will; the foolish are built on the sandy foundation of self-will. This is a simple reality.
'Lovers' and 'Loathers' of Wisdom and Instruction
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7)
For the wise, their meat is to learn the will of God and perform it. The foolish are gratified by the fulfillment of his/her own desire. The foolish loathe the counsel of God. Yet, understanding is more than a mental assent to facts, it is the willingness and ability to walk out what is understood. One does not rightly understand something until they can perform that something. God's word carries within itself the grace to accomplish what is revealed; hence, it is called the Word of His grace. The Living Word is full of grace (John 1:14); the revealed Word is full of grace as well (Acts 14:3, 20:32).
The Bitter Bread of the Foolish
They that loathe God's Word are as Israel in the wilderness who said: for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. (Numbers 21:5b) The Greek word means to be worthless (LXX) or as the MT (Hebrew) renders it, to be 'light' or 'of no account'. The Word of God is as sweet as a morsel in the mouth of the wise, but it is as bitterness for the foolish. This is the folly of man deeply rooted in the heart so as to take one past the ability to feel the seriousness of honoring God. It is stubbornness. It is a eternally lethal refusal to honor God as GOD.
Our passage reminds us; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Wisdom and instruction implies being told what to do, but the foolish will have none of it. The foolish rather had they followed their own folly, than yield to the will to another. The receive no counsel.
For this peoples heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.
They stop their ears. They harden their own hearts. God taking additional measures to prevent their self destruction send men and women to warn them through the word of God. Having no desire to search for God- He comes for them. So it was in Israel; And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. (2 Chronicles 36:15-16)
Wisdom and Knowledge Provided and Rejected
It is impossible for us to know right now how many means God is employing to secure the salvation of those that are in rebellion. Man is not just accountable to God for what he/she knows, but what they should have known. (Luke 12:47) This is a terrible reality. Those things that He placed within their reach and yet they conveniently turned the other way have only aggravated their sins. Some have built their heart into a mighty fortress, lest God or His messengers assail them or some truth breach the wall. Yet now it is time, even high time to awake of of sleep. It is time to shake off the delusion and lies of the enemy as he floods the mind with time consuming lies.
The Path from Hardness to Wholeness
Honesty is where we begin. One must desire to know the truth and accept the consequences of truth. This is the only hope. The mind has to change so as to change the direction of the life- back to God. We must agree with God... we must agree with what God has said about our condition and what He has said is the solution to our condition. Candor is in order. The heart must forsake it's dishonest attitude that has darkened the mind and accept the truth of what God has said. We must forsake any unwillingness to be convinced. We must let God be true. As we allow God to be true, the hard fallow ground of the heart will be stirred-up so we can feel sincerely. We must turn to God until He transforms our whole desire.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon