"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction"
This proverb is about how to avoid being a fool. A fool is one who is self-focused and selfish. The fool doesn't want to learn the facts because they have made up their mind. The fool wants what they want and they are bent on getting what they want or the world is an unfair place. But God is playing a different game. God is playing the wisdom game. In wisdom, everyone gets a win but it may not be the big personal win that the selfish person has in mind. God may maneuver you into a situation where many more people than you win. Your win may be a much different win than the one that you always wanted (getting the girl, the big promotion, the pile of money).
The foolish person despises wisdom and instruction because they want what they want. They don't want to hear about how God can get glory or lots of other people can win if they would just accept this other type of win. Remember, a fool is self-focused. God may be offering you a great win but it is not the one you wanted. If you cannot see the wisdom or want to learn what He may be up to then you are confirming your self-focused and selfish orientation. Grow up and focus on the fact that God is in charge and you are not. He has a great plan for you but it may not involve playing center field for the Boston Red Sox or singing lead for the Beatles. Learn to reverence the Lord God and try and understand what God may be up to.I t is always bigger than your self-focused concerns. Cooperate with God by being wise and embracing the triple win.
Let’s take a deeper look at this:
The first piece of data that should go into the one who wants wisdom is the fear of the Lord – Reverence, Awe, Wonder, and Fear at the Almighty – a healthy respect for the person and boundaries of the Lord. The moral boundaries of the Lord are not physical limits but instead are universal, personal and moral limits on behavior. It is here one must fear moving beyond the will of the Lord. There is freedom in every direction in the will of the Lord except when one presses up against one of the moral boundaries of the Lord. Too often in our society there is no thought of God and His opinion before an action is taken or a word is spoken. The constant attention to the person and boundaries of the Lord is a key piece to insert in the life of a person seeking wisdom, leadership, maturity, and a blest life.
fear is the Hebrew word yare. In this discussion, biblical usages of yārēare divided into five general categories: 1) the emotion of fear, 2) the intellectual anticipation of evil without emphasis upon the emotional reaction, 3) reverence or awe, 4) righteous behavior or piety, and 5) formal religious worship. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
Lord is the personal name for God; the name that He gave Himself when He specifically revealed it to Moses. There is clearly a note here to begin a personal relationship of reverence, awe, wonder, and even fear with the one personal Supreme Being, Yahweh, who knows all and is capable of guiding you through this life to the reward on the other side. If you are going to really begin gaining wisdom, you must understand that there is a personal God who set up the rules and whom you will be offending by foolish and sinful behavior. Too many people believe that either they are making up the rules to the game of life or that they are impersonal rules that have no connection to a real being who can be offended by our conduct on this planet.
Beginning is the Hebrew word first or head. It is the word for first fruits or the first of something. Solomon is not saying that some of the first bits of information that you need to have in your wisdom data bank is a reverence for God. He is saying that the first bit of knowledge – in fact the operating system which will organize all the other bits of knowledge – must be reverence, awe, wonder, and fear for the Supreme Being who is the personal God, Yahweh. If this information is not first and in that sense functioning as your operating system, then all the other information will float as randomized bits of knowledge without the proper relation to each other and to the source.
Knowledge is the Hebrew word for information and skills. It will be used throughout the Proverbs for information that must be acquired and for skills that must be gained. This proverb deals with the first set of information and skills that must be gained to get started on the wisdom journey. It is interesting that it is a personal relationship with the personal God who has revealed himself in the Bible. If you do not have this personal relationship, then you cannot really gain true wisdom and the pieces of the puzzle will not fit together.
Fools is the word for the natural state of sinful man – selfish, rebellious, imperfect. This is the first instance of the main contrast to the wise person. It does not mean mentally slow or stupid, but instead it is the word for morally inept and lacking in moral sense. The fool absolutely does not like the win-win scenario. Instead the fool wants the pure selfish win. They maximize their personal win at the expense of others. This shortsighted approach fits their moral bankruptcy. They just do not see the point of waiting, digging, and finding the choice that allows everybody to win. They despise the triple-win and new information that may turn them away from their selfish direction.
Despise is the Hebrew word for disregard, hold as insignificant, even holding in contempt. The fool does not see any wisdom in looking for the triple-win: God, others, then yourself. In fact, they see the search for this wise choice as a stupid, insignificant, and even a contemptuous quest for the ridiculous. The only choice they are interested in is the one that most quickly and purely benefits themselves. They also fail to see that each time they make this selfish choice, how it impoverishes them.
wisdom and instruction
These are the words for the basic goals of a godly life and the training method to get there. Wisdom is the triple-win: God, others, and yourself. The word for instruction is the word to bind or to straighten through pressure that which is crooked. Both wisdom and instruction must be embraced as the normal part of the life of godly righteousness. There are many times that we do not realize that we are being foolish and seeking our own way, and God must bind us to a course of life that will manifest our basic selfishness.
A fool does not want to look for the triple-win solution or the area where their life does not measure up. They do not want to pass by the selfish choice and embrace the triple-win choice and get excited about being rebuked. But this is exactly what the wise person does.