September 2, 2021
Smoky Mountain District
From Whence Come Knowledge and Wisdom?
2 For learning about wisdom and instruction,
Proverbs 1:1-19 (NRSV)
for understanding words of insight,
3 for gaining instruction in wise dealing,
righteousness, justice, and equity;
4 to teach shrewdness to the simple,
knowledge and prudence to the young—
5 let the wise also hear and gain in learning,
and the discerning acquire skill,
6 to understand a proverb and a figure,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Warnings against Evil Companions
8 Hear, my child, your father’s instruction,
and do not reject your mother’s teaching;
9 for they are a fair garland for your head,
and pendants for your neck.
10 My child, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us wantonly ambush the innocent;
12 like Sheol let us swallow them alive
and whole, like those who go down to the Pit.
13 We shall find all kinds of costly things;
we shall fill our houses with booty.
14 Throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
15 my child, do not walk in their way,
keep your foot from their paths;
16 for their feet run to evil,
and they hurry to shed blood.
17 For in vain is the net baited
while the bird is looking on;
18 yet they lie in wait—to kill themselves!
and set an ambush—for their own lives!
19 Such is the end[a] of all who are greedy for gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.
DevotionIn Proverbs 1:7, we read: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” In Proverbs 9:10, the words are: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
When I think of knowledge, I think of the vast store of information possessed by contestants on “Jeopardy.” How can they know so much about so many different topics? I’m always amazed. But when I think of wisdom, I don't think about facts and data. I think about understanding, discernment, good judgment.
We all know people who are knowledgeable and people who are wise. Often, these are not the same people. If I’m looking for information, I’ll ask someone who is knowledgeable; if I’m looking for guidance, I’ll ask someone who is wise. Both qualities are important; and according to scripture, both stem from “fear of the Lord.”
Scholars generally agree that “fear of the Lord” means standing before the Almighty in awe and reverence, rather than cowering in terror before our heavenly Father. It acknowledges that God is the source of both knowledge and wisdom. It recognizes that God is the creator of all that we can investigate and explore.
Proverbs 1:7 also informs us that people who despise wisdom and instruction are fools. I may never acquire the knowledge to qualify as a contestant on “Jeopardy,” but I pray that God will inspire me to remain receptive to both the wisdom and the instruction that only God can impart.