The Beginning of Wisdom
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
THE SEARCH FOR WISDOM MUST NEVER BE SEPARATED FROM THE SEEKING OF GOD. If our philosophy is not empowered by sound theology, it faces an insurmountable barrier.
The fundamental truths about God constitute the basics of knowledge. God’s reality is the most important thing that can be known and also the most obvious (Romans 1:19,20). In the ABCs of knowledge, we start with God. Those who disbelieve often see themselves as more advanced in their learning. But “no art, no philosophy, no science, no literature, no intellectual attainments or achievements of any kind whatever will compensate for ignorance of God; the soul that knows not him is an ignorant man; the time that knows not him is an ignorant age” (W. Clarkson).
The knowledge of God is also the basis of knowledge. It’s the organizing principle that unifies everything else, the framework within which all the pieces of information fit together. “On the day I first really believed in God,” wrote Dag Hammarskjöld, “for the first time life made sense to me and the world had meaning.” In God, a chaos of facts becomes a cosmos of knowledge. The plain truth is this: we won’t grow wise without seeking God, and we won’t seek God without humility, respect, and reverence. That is why the fear of the Lord is the “beginning” of wisdom. Pride always corrupts the learning process. The illusion that we know more than we do (coupled with the unwillingness to accept truths that might have unwelcome consequences) will keep us from making progress in wisdom. It is respect for the Creator that opens the door to intellectual growth.
Paul wrote about certain individuals who “suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). There are those, he said, who evade the facts and refuse to “retain God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28). These are strong words, without a doubt, but we need to hear them. Do we allow God to be the beginning of our real-world wisdom? How honestly do we accept this, the most primary of all truths: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)?
“Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know” (Eric Hoffer).