Summary: Pentecost 15(C) - The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: Knowing the Lord is to fear him and this fear is only the beginning.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM
September 17, 2006 - PENTECOST 15 - Proverbs 9:8-12
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
No one likes to be called a dummy or considered stupid. The fact is our society places a high value on education in our day and age. People spend hundreds and thousands of dollars that they might get an advanced degree and be educated. Yet, you and I know that no matter how much book learning one gets or how many degrees a person has, that does not mean that person has any wisdom. That is what our text talks to us about this morning. We are going to the step beyond book learning and a mere education. We are going to the step beyond just knowing God. We are going to study the wisdom and knowledge of salvation that God provides to us through his word. Those are familiar words in our text that say: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."
Later on Paul wrote to the congregation at Ephesus, which we have been reading through in our Scripture Lessons. Paul encouraged them, because they were just beginning in the Christian faith. They were just beginning to know God and being educated in the basis of salvation. God wanted these believers to continue to grow in their wisdom. Ephesians 1 says: "I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better" (Ephesians 1:16,17). That was Paul’s prayer. This is our prayer this morning as we once again discover God’s wisdom for our lives this morning. We pray that God our Savior will give us wisdom and revelation so that we may know him better. We will to use that familiar phrase from our text, verse 10:
"THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM" as our theme. We will study the facts that:
I. To know the Lord is to fear him, and realizing
II. this fear is truly the beginning.
I. TO KNOW THE LORD IS TO FEAR HIM
Chapter 9 of the book of Proverbs is actually a concluding chapter of the first nine chapters of Proverbs. From chapter one to chapter nine the writer writes about wisdom and the importance of knowing God. The fact is he makes wisdom seem so important that there is nothing more valuable on earth. There is nothing more important than a person having wisdom. The wisdom, of course, is the knowledge of God. We are going to talk about that. He makes wisdom out to be a person. As he comes into chapter 8, he says: "Wisdom has built a house and she invites people to come in and live."
Then we come to chapter 9 where he starts to show a difference between those who are wise and those who are not. Verse 8: "Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you." Quite a bit of difference. The mocker hates the instruction and wisdom of God. The wise man, the one who knows God, loves God’s instruction and wants more. Why is it that the mocker hates God’s instruction? The mocker in reality has set himself as God, and he says to himself, "Who needs any other advice? Who needs God? I am more important than God." Verse 7, which comes right before our text says it even stronger: "Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse." The mocker has no use for God and his word. We use the term unbeliever for the word "mocker, one who mocks God." No wonder the writer says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." The mocker has no knowledge of the Holy One or the divine things of God. How sad that is because God makes it very simple. He makes it so simple that even you and I can understand and believe God’s divine message of salvation.
At the end of our text is an interesting verse: "If you are a mocker, you alone will suffer." It reminds us of that saying: "When you laugh, the whole world laughs with you; and when you cry, you cry alone." This may have been taken from this verse: "The mocker suffers alone." In their own self-pity and their own rejection of God they are going to suffer punishment and condemnation and eternal punishment because of their rejection of God. They can’t blame anyone else but themselves, the mocker that despises God’s wisdom. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.