Saturday, June 25, 2016

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!"

Day #178

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 1 …

“Wisdom,” the elusive desire of all who want to KNOW the “secrets of the universe!”  Solomon, David's son, was given a "blank check" by none other than God and he asked for WISDOM!  God granted his request and gave Solomon extraordinary wisdom and he became famous not only in Israel but throughout the world.  His proverbs have endured for nearly 3,000 years because in them God reveals HIS wisdom for all the ages.  

Solomon begins with this introduction:  "The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:  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 …" (1:1-4).

Solomon's proverbs are more than deep thoughts from an ancient philosopher; they are the very Word of God spoken through a man in whom the Spirit of God was at work.  Solomon, like David, was not simply “smart.”  They didn’t have I.Q. tests in those days, but if they had it was not Solomon's I.Q. that made him wise.  He rightly explains, "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (1:7).  What does that mean?  Many argue today that telling people to FEAR God is unnecessary and constitutes "spiritual abuse."  What do you think?

The most primitive societies in the world have always feared their gods.  Mankind instinctively knows that whatever "god" there might be, there must be judgment because of all the evil in the world.  Bad things, horrible things, happen.  There must be a "god" who is in control of these things and the natural conclusion man comes up with is that they are sent by GOD … and in essence, that is true!  God is not the Author of evil, but He does send judgment upon those who reject Him and His Word.  This is not just Old Testament truth.  Jesus said that when His Spirit came He would "convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8).  That doesn't sound very pleasant, but Jesus always spoke the truth.  He would not have disagreed with Solomon:  "The fear of the LORD (Yahweh … the Great 'I AM') IS the beginning of knowledge" … of true wisdom.

As Solomon warns his son about being enticed to do evil, he explains why judgment comes upon the foolish.  As Solomon writes, it is God speaking to those whom He created for His glory, but who have gone their own way.  "If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you" (1:23).  But instead, they rejected God's "rebuke."  Think about this and how important this is today.  Who likes REBUKE?!  But it is vitally essential to gain knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

You and I are not WISE by nature!  This is the error that so many make at the very beginning of their quest for knowledge.  The only things we “know” is what God has allowed us to learn.  We think we are so smart and we are so utterly foolish!!  Remember God's questions to Job (Job 38-41)??  How many children have gone astray simply because they refused to listen to their parents' rebuke … let alone GOD's?!

He goes on:  "But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke"  (1:24-25) … what happens?  Calamity, disaster, distress and trouble overwhelm those who now call out to a God they do not know, but they do not find Him.  Once again God reveals why:  "Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the LORD, and spurned my rebuke …" (1:29-30).

To "fear the LORD" is necessary in order to come to know the one true God.  Unless you first fear the Lord, you will never love Him for His mercy and thank Him for His grace.  The Apostle Paul writes, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (II Timothy 3:16-17).  Perhaps Paul was thinking of Proverbs 1 as the Spirit moved him to write those words.  They echo the purpose of Solomon's proverbs.

Jesus said there are two roads:  "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).  So Solomon had written centuries before:  "For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them; but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm" (1:32-33).

"Without FEAR of harm!"  Because those who come to God, who hear His rebuke and are moved by His Spirit to confess their sin and to find in Jesus a Savior … these come to know God's LOVE and forgiveness through faith in Jesus.  God's love does not, cannot, overlook our sin, but it deals with it on the cross.  "There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because HE first loved us" (I John 4:18-19).

How beautiful, how wonderful is God's love in Christ … and it begins by fearing God and responding to His rebuke.  Yes, "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge," but thankfully, knowledge doesn't end there.  There is much more to be learned and understood.  And it can all be found in God's Word.  If you are not already, become a student of God's Word.  Ask Him for wisdom, as Solomon did, and He will give it to you.  "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).  Ask today … and tomorrow … and the next day … and keep on learning.

Acquiring wisdom is a lifelong process and God is a patient teacher. Humble yourself before Him today.  "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon!" (Isaiah 55:6-7).

"O LORD, my God, I have heard Your voice and Your rebuke and have confessed my sin before You.  I thank You that in Jesus Christ I have received Your abundant mercy and grace, for You have promised to remember my sins no more and to remove them from me as far as the east is from the west.  Let my life be a living testimony to You, my God, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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