Pursue Wisdom and the Fear of the Lord by Pursuing Christ

The motto or catchphrase of the Proverbs is “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and it is repeated over and over again (9:10 (cf. 1:7); 15:33) and is also repeated in some of the other wisdom books (Ps. 111:10; Job 28:28). Derek Kidner (TOTC 59) breaks this down for us succinctly without losing any of the meat of the statement.

By saying that the fear of the Lord is the “beginning” of wisdom, Solomon is saying that it is “the first and controlling principle.” So it’s not a stage that we pass through on the way to being wise, it is the foundation without which we cannot be wise. In 15:33, we’re told that the fear of the Lord is “instruction in wisdom.” That is, it is itself the way of wisdom.

But what is the fear of the Lord? It is a “worshipping submission” (Kidner, TOTC 59), a “reverential submission” (Ross, EBC, 907) to the Lord’s will.

This is the beginning of “knowledge” (1:7), “wisdom” (1:9), and “instruction in wisdom” (15:33).

A true worshipper of God, then, because of what he has seen of God, must hold Yahweh in such high regard that he willingly values God’s will and wisdom over his own will and wisdom.

When we see God as he is revealed in Jesus Christ, specifically on the cross, we have every reason to hold him in reverence and awe. At the cross we see God’s holiness and righteousness and justice, but also his love, mercy, and grace at work. All of this is centered in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Paul tells us that not only does “all the fullness of the Godhead” dwell in Christ “bodily” (Col. 2:9), but he also says that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).

Since a true worshipper of God must hold Yahweh in such high regard that he willingly values God’s will and wisdom over his own will and wisdom, the pursuit of wisdom is a pursuit of God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. The key to pursuing wisdom is to pursue Christ.

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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