Proverbs 1: Knowledge, Wisdom and Instruction
Wow, I finally get to say that we are beginning a new book of the Bible. Welcome to Proverbs! I like Proverbs quite a bit, so I think that this should be very fun time.
Chapter 1 seems to be centered on a thesis.
Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
I think that in society today, a lot of people would like to say that the fear of God is the beginning of ignorance, but I guess that shows the differences in our worldviews.
We need to think about the implications of this verse though. We need to fear God if we are even going to begin finding knowledge. That is a rather bold statement. This also seems to imply that if you do not fear God, you do not have any knowledge at all.
However, on the surface that doesn’t seem to be quite right. There are plenty of people who are not God-fearing yet seem to have plenty of knowledge. For example, Sam Harris is a very talented philosopher. He obviously does not fear God, but he certainly has a lot of knowledge about the field of philosophy (even though I believe he is misguided).
I think that we are looking at a somewhat different definition of knowledge than simply facts. Look at the way that that particular verse is set up. It is almost like some type of parallel structure. Those who fear God are at the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
It seems like knowledge and despising wisdom and instruction are at odds here. Wise people do the first, and fools do the second. Therefore, if the fools did not despise wisdom and instruction, they would not be fools anymore. That is what makes them fools.
It seems as if in context, knowledge is being used to mean both wisdom and instruction. Obviously we can gain both of these things from the Bible, and we base our beliefs on the Bible when we respect and fear God. When we understand how great God is and how amazing His power is, we find that fear of God, and we are at the beginning of knowledge. The Bible is what helps us in that process. It can provide us with wisdom and instruction.
This is important stuff. I don’t think that this verse means that we can only learn 2+2 through the fear of God. There are clearly plenty of counterexamples to that one. However, when we look at the context of the verse, it seems to make quite a bit of sense that we need to be grounded in the word of God and learn to fear and respect Him along with the wisdom and teaching that He has given us.