Living Wisely #2: The Beginning of Wisdom

The riches of wisdom are to be found in none other than He who is all-wise.  This is essentially what is meant by Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (cf. 9:10). This fear of God is not a cowering fear, but a fear that “ultimately expresses reverential submission to the Lord’s will and thus characterizes a true worshiper.”[1]  It is a fear that recognizes the awesome perfections of God, one’s own sinfulness, the way of salvation, and responds with the obedience of faith.  As one seeks to gain wisdom, they will come to understand that it only makes sense with God, it can only come from Him.  Then every good path will be lighted to them.

1 My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
8 He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.
9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
Equity and every good path.

Proverbs 2:1-9

There are two kinds of people in the world: the wise and the foolish. Granted, the wise can be foolish at times, and fools can be wise at times (such is the nature of a proverb…and of man). No doubt, the Greek philosophers were wise in certain respects. They meditated upon and discussed great matters such as political philosophy and ethics. There is much we may learn from them, as far as they made proper assessment of things from the light of nature.  In the words of Peter Escalante, these “ancient philosophers, for all their greatness, groped about in the dark as the bastards of the gods”.[2] One is bound to lay hold of some things from groping in the dark, but they will only understand in part, not the whole. In the grand scheme of things, they were fools.  Or we could consider the brilliant scientists of our time.  They could not have achieved what they have achieved if it weren’t for some ounces of wisdom; and yet, evolution, which is espoused by many scientists, is the theory of fools.  This gets to the heart of the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25:

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

For all the wisdom of the wise, they could neither discern the times nor find their way to God.  This God has done through what looks like foolishness to the world but is treasured as wisdom among those who are the called – the gospel of Jesus Christ. The magi who sought the newborn king became wiser still (Matt. 2:1-12).

Again, it’s not that non-Christians don’t at times say and do wise things – they do!  It’s that without God, none of this wisdom stuff makes a lick of ultimate sense.  Recall that wisdom is a wholeness of life that accords with the reality of things. To deny the One from whom reality is derivative – that is, reality is that which corresponds to the truth of God – is utter foolishness.  Simply put, God is ultimate reality.  Not even virtual reality can help you escape Ultimate Reality.  God is there, and it is to Him that we must give account for our thoughts, speech, and actions.

Want to be wise?  Fear God and keep His word, and you shall have understanding beyond the aged.

Devotional Reading: Ps. 119:97-104; Heb. 4:12-13


[1] Kenneth L. Barker and John R. Kohlenberger III, The Expositor’s Bible
Commentary: Old Testament
, Abridged Edition (MI: Zondervan, 1994), 941.

[2] Peter Escalante with Joseph Minich, “Philosophy as a Way of Life: Reforming the
Quest for Wisdom,” in Philosophy and the Christian: The Quest for Wisdom in
the Light of Christ
(NE: The Davenant Press, 2018), 486.