“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
About 125 times in the entire book of Proverbs, the words wise and wisdom are found. Closely related to the concept of wisdom is the term knowledge. Knowledge is the correct understanding of God, self, and the world whereas wisdom is the skill of applying knowledge rightly. The goal of the book of Proverbs, then, is for us to attain true knowledge and know how to use it.
The unbelieving world also values knowledge, but true to his usual ways, Satan devises counterfeits. The wisdom of this world is really just foolishness in God’s sight (1 Corinthians 3:19). In fact, Paul warns against those who would take us captive by philosophy (literally, “love of wisdom”) and empty deceit that are based on worldly spirits and not on Christ (Colossians 2:8). So while many facts and figures can be attained through our lives, we are told that knowledge and wisdom cannot come from the world.
Where, then, does knowledge come from? Knowledge begins with the fear of the LORD. God is the ultimate source of all knowledge and wisdom, and having a proper reverence for God is the starting place for us. Of course, our sinful nature keeps us from pursuing God on our own accord. Thankfully, God pursues us! God has chosen to reveal himself to us so that we may know him! Without his revelation, we would know nothing.
Every Christian who confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, gained this understanding just like Peter did: not by flesh and blood, but by our Heavenly Father (Matthew 16:16-17). Likewise, all wisdom comes as revelation from God – we cannot conjure up knowledge by our own intellects. God must first change the heart. Understanding this principle is quite humbling, because it keeps us from trusting in ourselves or in the world. We must trust that God changes hearts and causes the blind to see. When we see that God is the one in control, and properly fear him, we find ourselves in the right place to attain knowledge and wisdom.
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