Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline”(Proverbs 1:7NIV)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10NIV)

 Let’s ponder on the above decree by King Solomon who was the son of King David and the third king of the United Kingdom of Israel. According to 1 Kings chapter 4 verses 29 to 34, Bible says

“God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.  Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. ……  And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish.  From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom”.

The God of heaven inspired the wisest and richest king to compose the book of proverbs full of advice for us to prosper in every part of our life. Nothing is off-limits in this fabulous book of the Bible. The commentary is practical, hard-hitting, current, and spiritual. There is not a better one anywhere. Look at Proverbs 1:2-6; which illustrate the purpose of this book. “For attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young – let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance – for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.” Solomon was well known for his great knowledge, wisdom, wealth and power. He was believed to be the main author of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs and was the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem.
 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” Here properly the book begins, and this is the first of the proverbs, and an excellent one. The knowledge of God is of great importance to our personal and private happiness. "the fear of the Lord" is not meant a servile fear, a fear of punishment, of hell, wrath, and damnation, which is the effect of the first work of the law upon the conscience; but a Godly fear, and supposes knowledge of God as a father, of his love and grace in Christ, particularly of his forgiving love, from whence it arises, Psalm 130:4 --- it is a holy, humble, a reverential affection and devotion to God; it includes the whole of religious worship, both internal and external; all that is contained in the first table of the law, and the manner of performing it, and principle of acting: this is the first of all sciences to be learned, and it is the principal one; it is the basis and foundation of all the rest, on which they depend; and it is the head, the fountain, the root an source, from where they spring; and unless a man knows God, knows God in Christ, and worships him in his fear, in spirit and in truth, according to his revealed will, he knows nothing as he ought to know; and all his knowledge will be of no avail and profit to him; this is the first and chief thing in spiritual and scriptural knowledge, and without which all natural knowledge will signify nothing;

The phrase “the fear of the Lord” is repeated at least 18 times in the book of Proverbs. So we can almost say that “the fear of the Lord” is the basic principle or the foundation on which we should build a life of knowledge and wisdom. The fear of the Lord is not a fear of punishment. The fear of the Lord is a refusal to participate in evil (Job 28:28). To fear the LORD is to hate evil ;( Proverbs 8:13) The fear of the Lord actually protects us from sinning against God, against others and against ourselves. It also means to seek God and listen to God’s wisdom. We look to the word of God as the source of our wisdom. Psalm 112:1 reads, “Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.” Psalm 128:1 says, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who talk in his ways.” Ephesians 5:15-18 reads, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wife, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”

Being wise is different from being humanly smart and clever. Human cleverness actually has to do with corrupted nature of human mind. We can be humanly clever by carefully observing nature and human behavior. But only those who have the fear of the Lord can be truly wise because God is the truth and the source of all wisdom. Wisdom that does not come from heaven is earthly, unspiritual and of the devil. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, and bears good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:15-17) Therefore, James 1:5 say, “If any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” In fact, there are so many blessings of the fear of the Lord. And the fear of the Lord is the foundation for gaining God’s wisdom.

The foundation, the origin, the commencement of knowledge begin with the fear of the Lord - Reverence for God; respect for his law, his will, his government, himself; the fear of offending him, which will lead us to do right. This fear is not that of a slave; it is not mere dread; it is not terror. It is consistent with love, and springs from it. It is consistent with calmness of mind, and promotes it. It does not produce terror, but rather delivers from it, and preserves the mind from alarms. So Bible says “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28-29NIV) The fear of the Lord does not make us timid or weak. The fear of the Lord actually gives us strength with reverence and awe. When we fear the Lord, we don’t have to fear anything else. The fear of the Lord is a remedy for all other ungodly and unhealthy forms of fear. It’s like the saying “A man who is intimate with God will never be intimidated by man.”

The highest wisdom - the loftiest endowment of man - is that he "May" “Fear” know and honor God. Wisdom is the ability to discern what is edifying from what is harmful, what is safe from what is dangerous. Wisdom is about a right understanding and a right application of the way things really are. The fundamental fact about the way things really are is that God exists and is engaged with the creation. The Bible opens with the words, "In the beginning God created…." This dramatic statement declares God to be the eternal source and foundation of all that is. The Bible proceeds to reveal the person, nature, and character of the triune God who forever is -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The fear of the Lord is to be God-conscious at all times.

King David demonstrated his fear of God and faith seemingly on a daily basis being God conscious at all circumstance which pleased the Lord.  Look at what David says “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,  if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,  your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts God! How vast is the sum of them!(Psalm 139:7-17)

David’s life was a portrait of success and failure, and it highlights the fact that he was far from perfect. But what made David a cut above the rest was that his heart was pointed toward God. David loved God deeply throughout his entire life. David also loved God’s law and he sought to follow it as best he could. He spent many days meditating on it and trying to apply it to his own life. He knew that God’s law had the power to change lives if it was followed to the letter. Another important character trait that David exhibited was that he had the attitude of gratitude and was very thankful for his life. During his life he had all sorts of trouble, but David thanked God every day no matter the circumstances. And, finally, David was truly repentant. Let us not forget that he was a man just like us who too sinned. But, despite his sin, he always feared God and sought to repent of those sins. He is a role model for all of us sinners who need to repent earnestly. David was indeed a man after God’s own heart.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, This shows who the wise men are, and in what true wisdom lies; no man is wise till he fears the Lord, and he that does so is a wise man, at least then he begins to be one; this is the principal part of wisdom,  and  it is the beginning of grace; it is the first act of wisdom,  which appears as soon as a man is converted and caused to know wisdom in the hidden part; as repentance, faith, and love, quickly show themselves in one act or another, so does the fear of God; for the former are never without the latter; for fear is an awe and reverence of the divine Being, joined with love to him, trust in him, and a desire to serve and worship him in a right manner;  

Knowledge of God plays an important role in all spheres of human life and activity. It is a powerful factor which helps man to attain success, power and Influence in life. Knowledge directs his actions and enables him to find the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. It helps him overcome his weakness and faults and face dangers and difficulties with courage and confidence. It gives him mental, moral and spiritual advancement. Besides this, it is through knowledge that man has gained mastery over nature. Knowledge plays an important role in the progress of art, literature, science, philosophy and religion. So knowledge is power. It has led man for progress. It is a rich and a unique possession that cannot be stolen or plundered. The growth, success and future survival of mankind depends upon knowledge of God.
Knowledge therefore in the broader sense means intellectual as well as physical powers. Literally it means to see, listen, understand, desire, plan, work and achieve. So knowledge helps an individual not only to desire but also to achieved what he desires. The successful discoveries and inventions encouraged man to contemplate on new ideas. His ability to rationalize, analyze and store the events in his memory enabled him to achieve success. Knowledge gave him the power, confidence and courage to make life worthy of living. He began to use the forces of nature for his own benefits. Thus, life becomes comfortable. He utilized his knowledge to improve his own life.
Man, since his early existence on this planet, has been in the quest of knowledge continuously. It was on account of his curiosity and desire to acquire knowledge of facts that civilization has developed to its modern stage. Knowledge sharpens the mind and intelligence, which in turn improves farther quest and desire for adventure and investigation. Man has already known the different corners of the world. He has started stepping on other planets. He has gone and come back from the moon. He is now exploring the other planets. All this is possible because of his knowledge of science and technology.
Muscle power was the law of the jungle. Physically, man is fragile than animal. He can­not naturally run like the horse, nor fly like the birds. He is no match in strength for the elephant, the lion or the bear. He has no natural weapons of defense like the tiger's fangs and claws. Yet he conquers all these strong and fierce beasts, and forces some of them to be his servants. Bible says In Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Notice also in this account that man stands as the link between God and creation. He is a mediator. The Lord Jesus Christ, when he appeared as the second Adam, the perfect man, is also said to be a mediator, but between God and man. Here the man, Adam, is created as the mediator between God and all animal life. He is made in the image of God which links him with God.

It is his superior knowledge and intelligence that makes him the master of creature’s superior to him in physical strength. Today it is knowledge of science and technology that rules the world. Knowledge develops human faculties. It leads to the excellence of the mind. It enables one to give sound judgment. Man was given dominion over the entire created universe. He was made to govern and to master the world in which he was placed. Even though man has fallen he has never forgotten that command, and this accounts for his unending persistence in trying to master the forces of earth, to climb the highest mountain and explore the deepest sea and to utilize the animal creation for his own purposes. But also, the effect of the fall is seen in the amazing fact that the man who was placed in this world to govern it is now on the verge of destroying everything.

This brings us to the matter of prayer. What is prayer, this mysterious power placed in the man's hands? Primarily, it is a means of communication between God and man, but secondarily, it is a means of control of the events of earth. Look at First Timothy, Chapter 2. Paul says, "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions. Why pray for kings and those in high positions?  that they may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way," (1 Timothy 2:1-2 RSV). That will be the result of prayer, the ability to lead a quiet and peaceable life. That means that when riots, tumults, and outbreaks begin to occur, prayer can have a very vital effect upon these things. Prayer can quiet these social outbreaks that threaten the peace of our time. Mortal men have no idea what is committed to them in this ministry of reigning over the events of life. This is evidenced by the fact that we really have very little knowledge in prayer, as is seen in the attendance at prayer meetings.

We will never understand what is going on in human life -- in the world or in our private individual lives -- unless we understand the purpose and meaning of the creation which found only in the mind of creator and ask ourselves the question, "What is man?" The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, used to love to take long walks of a summer evening, meditating and thinking. On one occasion he was seated in a park when a suspicious policeman noticed that he had been there for several hours. The policeman came up to him and said, "What are you doing?" The philosopher replied, "I'm thinking." The policeman said, "Who are you?" Kant said, "that’s precisely the problem I've been thinking about. ‘Who am I?'" It was this same philosopher who proposed that life could be reduced to four basic questions: What can I know? What ought I do? What may I hope? What is man, or who am I? You cannot look at man in his deprivation but that you are struck immediately by the contrast between what man could be and what man is. As G.K. Chesterton said, "What ever else is true of man, it is certainly true that man is not what he was meant to be."

To be continued…………