June 7, 2020, Proverbs 1 – Post 2 – ISSL Reflections

During our last time together we worked on getting an overview of the first chapter of Proverbs and began to think about one of the essential themes in Proverbs – Wisdom.

Today I want us to zero in on one phrase and see how we might “unpack” it. At Proverbs 1:7a, we read –

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

That is one of the favorite “memory” verses in many children’s Sunday School classes and is often encountered in adult discipleship groups.

Is its meaning self-evident? Does everyone who hears it, immediately recognize it as truth? Maybe, maybe not.

I suspect some folks we encounter will think that the task of gaining knowledge (or call it understanding or wisdom) does not begin by involving God in the quest. In fact, they might say the exact opposite.

Maybe when they (whoever “they” are) picture people who seek knowledge, the “believer,” the God-fearing Christians they have encountered are the last folk that come to mind. Perhaps the church-goers they know of, already have their minds settled on all truth, any talk of scientific reasoning leaves them with a frown on their faces, they aren’t going to entertain any new ideas and are very comfortable with their tightly held opinions.

Maybe you know a few church-goers who fit that description.

Is that what we are to take from this proposition?

What about “fear of the Lord”?

What does that look like as the beginning of a journey?

Maybe some of those same folks we mentioned earlier have heard enough talk of hell-fire and of a God who condemns people to eternal punishment, that they want no part of such a God or a quest for knowledge or wisdom in that God’s company.

But wait. Maybe the “fear” mentioned here is not the “scared to within an inch of your life kind” but means something along the lines of awe. Folks often stand in awe of the beauty of nature, so maybe to be awestruck when one thinks of God is a natural thing and helps one to seek knowledge and wisdom from a place of humility.

Does that make sense?

I don’t have “the” answer for these questions, but today, I did have a thought.

In the Gospels we hear Jesus talking about the Kingdom of God often.

He even says, “Seek first the Kingdom of God …”

So he thinks whatever journey you are on, begins by looking for God’s Kingdom?

And then in what we call the Lord’s prayer, we hear him say,

Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven….

He mentioned Kingdom again. And the starting place of the prayer is showing respect (awe?) to the God he calls Father.

Do you think that gives us any help in “unpacking” what it might mean when we encounter a phrase like,

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;

We’ll talk more later.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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