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Solomon: The wisdom of holy fear


On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake caused catastrophic damage in the western hemisphere’s poorest country, Haiti. The world rallied to give aid to the devastated country. Nine months later, an earthquake of equal magnitude struck New Zealand’s second largest city. There, not a single life was lost. How could two comparable earthquakes have such dissimilar effects? Most say that Haiti’s inferior infrastructure and shoddy building codes were to blame. 

When disaster strikes, the buildings left standing have secure foundations designed to allow them to survive calamity. So it is spiritually. Today, looking at the first chapter of the book of Proverbs, we see that the fear of the Lord is the only sure foundation for one’s life. As we’ve already seen through this month’s study on fear, we don’t have guarantees from God that our lives will be trouble-free. We can’t control life’s outcomes, and this uncertainty makes us deeply afraid.

The good news is that when we walk in the fear of the Lord, we are preserving ourselves from any number of harmful people and circumstances. In the prologue to this book of wisdom, Proverbs makes the case that sin is itself a source of trouble and difficulty. Keeping company with sinners means inviting pain into your life. The plans they concoct lead to their own ruin.

The fear of the Lord is more than a refusal to participate in evil. Fearing the Lord means that we are actively seeking out and heeding God’s wisdom. Primarily, we look to the Word of God as our source of wisdom, but beyond that, we listen to the instruction of our parents, we give priority to the public teaching of God’s Word, and we obey those in authority over us.

Thankfully, everyone is invited to learn wisdom. None are excluded from the course: the young, the simple-minded, the new-to-faith, and the already wise. God’s invitation for each of us is to listen, to learn, and to grow in the fear of the Lord. Then we experience His blessing.

Apply the Word

We live in an information age, so it’s no wonder that wisdom is often confused with knowledge. Knowledge is content that we can acquire through study. Wisdom, on the other hand, requires the engagement of our hearts. And that’s the key to real transformation. God calls us to identify what we really love and treasure. When the affections of the heart are divided, or when we find ourselves desiring things other than God, we need to confess and repent.

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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