What is your definition of wisdom? How do you define what is knowledge? Do you pursue wisdom and knowledge? Everyone of us define knowledge differently. Everyone of us view wisdom differently. However, the differences are slight and largely only vary because our perspectives of what is important tend to differ. We place our priorities differently, and therefore, we tend to view some knowledge as more important than others. We tend to respect people who are knowledgeable in aspects that we view as important more. And even wisdom – our perception of who is wise tends to be warped because of bias – it’s inevitable. By and large, however, while it certainly is tricky for us to put one wise man before another, most people can tell wisdom apart from folly. By and large, the pursuit of knowledge is human nature – it is what led to technological advances, it leads us to upgrade and improve ourselves. By and large, we know what wisdom is – although the worldly definition of it certainly would not concur with the Biblical definition of it. Wisdom is certain not a bad thing. Wisdom is urged on in many places of the Bible. However, the wisdom that the Bible speaks of greatly differs from the worldly perception of wisdom. And the man difference is grasped in Proverbs 9:10 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – If we ignore this verse for now, what would your answer be if somebody asked, what’s the first step to wisdom? That’s a hard answer, and if forced, I’d say, perhaps, a calm and discerning mind? Maturity? Discipline? Knowledge? Common sense? I don’t know. I’m sure you can come up with better answers. The Bible doesn’t leave us guessing though, and tells us directly – the fear of the Lord. What does that mean? If we fear God, we will follow his commands, and if we would adhere to his commandments, we will be clear on what we should do and what we shouldn’t, we will have a discerning mind because our priorities are clear. We will not succumb to foolish temptations because of God’s words. This does not mean that whoever fears the Lord will certainly be wise. However, a God-fearing heart is the first step to wisdom.
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding – the phrase ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ or similar sentiments can be found in several other verses – Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 15:32-33, Psalm 111:10, Job 28:28; but the second part usually differs, although they are usually on understanding. Psalm 111:10 says all who follow his precepts have good understanding, Job 28:28 says to shun evil is understanding; and Proverbs 15:32 says whoever heeds correction gains understanding. Compare them to Proverbs 9:10, which says knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. In essence, in these four verses that concur first that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, they have defined someone with understanding as (1) one who knows the Holy One; (2) whoever heeds correction; (3) one who shuns evil; (4) follow God’s precepts.
Let us first look further into what knowledge of the Holy One means. Some scholars have suggested that the term ‘Holy One’ could be better rendered as ‘Holy Ones’, thus referring to the holy trinity, while others believe that it refers strictly to the Holy Father. I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility of the holy trinity, yet I think it’s fair to limit this discussion to the Holy Father alone, because his holiness is most apparent to us. Do you know God? Obviously you do, but do you have knowledge about Him? An inner, spiritual knowledge of all things pertaining to God and his holy Kingdom? We can perhaps never finish learning enough about him, but when we know God personally, we will gain true understanding. When we know God truly, and when we gain true understanding, we will naturally be God-fearing, and in turn, we will become wiser. When we understand God’s kingdom, the gospel, his doctrine, and the truth – we will understand the importance of following God’s precepts regardless of our circumstances. While we may still sin and err as humans, we will know the importance of repenting and heeding correction. While we will still encounter evil, we will learn how to shun evil. The more we know God, the more we follow him, the more we’ll have holy fear for him.
Do you pursue wisdom? Worldly knowledge is, at the end of the day, nothing but foolishness when compared to Kingdom knowledge. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t seek to improve on our worldly knowledge, but let that not become an obsession for us, an obsession which will impar our pursuit of spiritual knowledge. At the end of the day, worldly knowledge will amount to nothing upon the end of our lives in this world. But spiritual knowledge is translatable to the spiritual realm – well, it doesn’t say that in the Bible, but it kinda make sense, doesn’t it? We probably won’t be in want of knowledge at that point, though.
How, then, do we pursue spiritual wisdom? The first step is to fear God. How then, do we fear God? It would be foolishness to take this verse literally – claiming by mouth that I fear God and yet do nothing about it with my eyes, my mind, my hands and my feet. Instead of investing our entire lives in the pursuit of knowledge, why not invest a little more time in the pursuit of God? Pursuit of knowledge on God. Read God’s precepts so that we may keep them in mind. Study God’s words. Do God’s works. In doing so, I believe that we’ll one day find that the God in our heart has grown bigger, as our understanding of God increases. When our God becomes bigger, so will our fear of him – not horror, not that kind of fear, but holy fear, a fear of God’s almightiness, a fear of God’s holiness.
Surely, at the end of the day, the pursuit of spiritual knowledge and wisdom will be much more fulfilling than the pursuit of worldly knowledge and wisdom.