The Foundation of Knowledge

Scripture: Proverbs 1:7, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.’


Observations: Most commentators calls this verse the motto of the Book of Proverbs. It not appears here in the prologue of the book but also in 19 other places in various forms (i.e. 9:10, 14:2 etc). There are a number of interesting words in this verse. The first is the word ‘fear.’ The Hebrew word (yir’at) can mean anything from ‘respect,’ or ‘awe,’ to ‘terror.’ But within all its meanings is the basic idea that we stand in a subservient position to God, and we need to acknowledge our dependence on him. The second word is ‘the Lord,’ which in Hebrew is the covenantal name for God, ‘Yahweh.’ It is significant because wisdom doesn’t come from just recognizing the spiritual realm exists, but from a personal covenantal relationship with the God who created the universe and gave the law. Thirdly, the word ‘beginning,’ not only carries the sense of ‘first,’ but also ‘foundation,’ or ‘source.’ To fear the Lord is the first thought that makes all the other thoughts fall into place. The fear of the Lord is the foundation of all knowledge. Finally, the word ‘fool (’ewil),’ which basically means ‘to grow thick.’ It describes someone who isn’t stupid, but who in ignoring God has missed the whole point. If you start from any other starting place except ‘the Lord,’ you are a fool, not because you aren’t intelligent, but because you have the wrong foundation.


Application: The point is not that you can’t be intelligent in a particular field i.e. physics, or carpentry, or computers, but that unless you ‘fear the Lord,’ all your intelligence will be wasted. So do you have a personal relationship with God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ? If you do you are wise, if you don’t you are a fool! Only a fool would not be afraid of the one who not only created them and the rest of the universe, but also holds the power of life and death. Such a person not only doesn’t know their place in the universe, but they also don’t know how they are meant to act in God’s world. Right living comes from a right relationship with God.


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, all wisdom of this world means absolutely nothing unless it is founded in You. Lord, without You all our wisdom turns to dust. Lord, may I be wise, not in the eyes of this world, but in Your eyes, as I submit myself to Your Lordship and authority. Lord, I don’t trust in my own wisdom, but in Your Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross in my place. You have provided everything I need, and only a fool would trust in anything else. Lord, may I grow in wisdom as I read Your word and grow in my knowledge of You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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