Book of Proverbs: 31 verses from 31 chapters in 31 days – Day 1 Fear and Wisdom (1:7)

Day 1 Fear and Wisdom (1:7)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction

We begin our journey through Proverbs with a text of which theme is to be referred to several times throughout the book, because it is central to what the author (Solomon) wants to say, in particular to his son, who tragically failed to follow a lot of what he had to say. It is the culmination to the prologue (1:1-7) to Proverbs, which after having identified it was his proverbs then tells his reader(s) his purpose in writing, i.e. “to know wisdom and instruction” (1:2) etc. There remains a choice we all have to make: follow the way of wisdom and instruction (heeding that which we are rightly taught) or the way of the fool which is the way not just of stupidity but of wickedness and immorality.

It is worth dwelling a while on what the words our English Bibles translate as “fear”, “knowledge” and “wisdom” so we are talking about the same thing:

Fear (Hebrew: yare) can be translated by anything from respect to dread but commonly understood by learned commentators to mean reverence and awe.

Knowledge (Hebrew: yada) goes beyond intellectually informed and includes notions of perceiving, learning, understanding, performing, and experiencing.

Wisdom (Hebrew: chokmah) enables us to skilfully apply knowledge gained, to understand life from God’s perspective and do the right thing at the right time.

As far as Solomon is concerned, the wise man does what he does out of the fear of the Lord and foolish man does what he does without the fear of the Lord and even in this chapter he gives practical examples, as: “my son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (1:10). He then gives a graphic example of someone being enticed by the wrong crowd, to murder an innocent person for ill-gotten gain, something that someone who truly possessed wisdom would avoid.

Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets” (1:20) and yet it is ultimately up to the hearer whether or not he heeds that voice. The result of whether or not we decide to heed or not heed that voice is a stark one: “For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil” (1:32:33). The choice before us today therefore is whether of not we choose to fear the Lord and listen to the voice of wisdom.

Prayer: Lord help us to follow the path of wisdom and reject the path of foolishness; to do so not just because we will be better off but to honour you.

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