What is the Beginning of Wisdom?

I grew up going to Sunday School and memorizing Bible verses.  Perhaps many of you can relate.  And when I learned each verse, I understood it with a child’s understanding.  As I got older, I made the mistake of thinking that I understood various verses without digging more in depth to see if there was something I had missed.

This verse was one of those:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  Proverbs 9:10

It seemed so cut and dried.  I mean, who could misunderstand the word “beginning”?  “Fear of the LORD” I could see, yes. I had to be taught as I grew older that this was about reverence and respect and honor for the LORD.

But “beginning”?

I mean that’s the start, right?

Well this year our pastor has started a series in Proverbs, and I was very surprised to hear him challenge this long-held notion of mine.  But, as I listened, what he was saying made total sense, and my spirit had an aha moment!

Basically I tend to think chronologically, so I had this idea, which when I put it in so many words really doesn’t make sense, that a person starts fearing the LORD at a given moment, and voila!  Now he or she is on the path to wisdom!

Well, it does have to start somewhere, so that is not entirely incorrect. but there’s more to it than that.

Pastor pointed out that, basically, beginning is not just one point in time.  Beginning can be that

  • the way to understand the truths of life is to have a right and growing relationship with God.  Basically, it’s that
  • every decision I make begins with finding out what God says about it.  And
  • everything I do, say, think, and emote, always begins with considering what God says.

That kind of made me realize that sometimes I get it backwards.  Sometimes I do, say, think, or emote first; then, after I’ve gotten upset or said or done something stupid, I go back to God and ask Him what He thinks about it.  At that point I have to ask for forgiveness and sometimes even for help in cleaning up the mess.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t ever have the fear of the LORD, but it does mean that I go through periods where I forget how awesome He is, and yes, I’m not reverencing Him in the moment, and I’m not being wise in that moment either.

So, the beginning of wisdom is

daily and throughout the day every day,

beginning each activity or conversation by seeking what God says about it.

  • What does God say about the insult I have just suffered?
  • What does He say about the teaching I am receiving in school or college classes?
  • about a movie or my YouTube videos I want to watch?
  • about the selfish reaction that is bubbling up in me when I don’t get my way?
  • about how I should respond?
  • about how I should treat those I meet each day, including family members?
  • about how hard I should try to excel in my work?
  • about friendships and relationships?…

The Amplified Version says it this way:

“The [reverent] fear of the LORD [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom [its starting point and its essence], And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight.”

So, having wisdom all comes back down to truly knowing God,

not just by a one-time decision to follow Him,

but by a daily dialogue with Him. 

You can’t truly know someone if you don’t spend lots of time with them and thinking about them.

Having wisdom starts with a moment by moment reverence

for the Holy God

whom we are actively trying to know more deeply

and to love and obey.

We will fail many times because of our humanness, but praise God,

His Holiness includes patience, mercy, and love! 

Each day He gives us is a new beginning! 

Let’s ask Him for help having the holy reverence for Him that we need in order to have His wisdom each day.


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