The Fear Of The Lord Is....?
Considerations of Reverence of a Supreme Being in the Modern Age (Proverbs:9:10)by Randy Pritts 11/1/2020
In fairness to our previous consideration of what evil might mean for our modern culture (see: EvilIs kjv@Proverbs:8:13), I felt it wise along with that to consider what the "fear of the LORD" (also kjv@Proverbs:8:13) might mean to this generation as well. You'll remember that in kjv@Proverbs:8:13 that King Solomon advanced the statement "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate". This is one of many such statements about the "fear of the LORD" the author of Proverbs puts forward for its readers to consider. It is my contention that just as mysterious and misunderstood as evil is to this present age, so too is our conceptualization of reverence.
Some would say that they already know what this reverence is. Then answer me this: In both the past and present, hasn't our conceptions of reverence to God also caused evil upon a great many others? I could go through example after example of such irreverent behaviors by us. There are many non-believers that judge our LORD by the unconscionable acts that we have performed. How can they ever rightly fear the LORD when they are so deathly afraid of, else so put off by our filthy misrepresentations, of what it means to be religious?
Proverbs 9:10 kjv
Before we jump into these considerations, let me offer you some contextual considerations.
- Preliminary Considerations:
- Chapter Context:
- Time context:
- Wisdom in greater context:
The tenth verse is sandwiched between between two lengthy descriptions of opposing doorways that can a man can enter; both in the high places of the city. The first is through the doorway of Wisdom kjv@Proverbs:9:1, a proverbial character found throughout Solomon's Book of Proverbs. Wisdom is given feminine attributes, and here is portrayed as having built her house herself, complete with seven hewn pillars, preparing a table of meat bread and wine, herself calling and also sending her maidens out to the streets to call those that are "wanting understanding". The second is the proverbial characterization of "Foolish" kjv@Proverbs:9:13, again given comparative feminine attributes, seated at her doorway calling those passing by, those simply going "their own ways" (no mention of them seeking a further understanding). The invitations used by each character are illustrative of their logic and ploy to bring the public in through their doors. The larger sampling recorded is what Wisdom would be saying kjv@Proverbs:9:6-12. Near the middle of this sampling is where we find today's text being spoken from.
The BookOfProverbs was collected and written by King Solomon approximately 900 B.C. (a much different world from ours indeed). It is actually a compendium of proverbs from several different sources, some even believed to be from his father King David. It is said that Solomon once possessed a collection of over 3000 proverbs. The book is organized with the first nine chapters penned as larger/more picturesque proverbs like this one. Chapters ten through to the end are much shorter one or two line pithy rhymes or side by side wise/unwise sketches. The full narrative reads like a father giving much needed teaching to his young perhaps teen-aged son before sending him out into the world as a man.
The greater context regarding this character Wisdom is the she was there alongside "the LORD" prior to creation and has remained at His side throughout, employed in the control of the elements and foundations, also the eventual direction taken by it. From the very first chapter on, Wisdom is portrayed as actively calling out to mankind, but mankind not listening, that there will be a day when these foolish and simple minded defiant ones will eat the fruit of their own way. Wisdom repeatedly states, like it does here, that the "fear of the LORD is the beginning" for them that will be redeemed, the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of knowledge, the beginning of understanding; there is no other place for the redeemed to be beginning from.
- "The Fear": meaning trembling-fear/reverence/worship/deep respect.
- "Of The LORD": meaning the self existent one, Jehovah.
- "Is The Beginning": meaning first commencement.
- "the knowledge of the holy (holy one) is understanding"
Perhaps the best way to get to know what this "fear of the LORD" is supposed to be, is to explain what we know so far about what this "fear of the LORD" definitely is not.
Fear is not the same thing as being offended. Jesus told His disciples, knowing the persecution and martyrdom of these men and women that was soon coming, not to be offended ( kjv@John:16 ). "They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service" kjv@John:16:2. There are those that say "you have to stand up for yourself", and "eye for an eye", "God does for those who are bold enough to do for themselves"; and such becomes their religion. Such became our religion back in the times of the Crusades. Pope Urban II, in an effort to rally support for a reunification of Christendom all under his See, sold us fictitious exaggerations of the offenses being done by Muslims upon the other Sees of both Constantinople and of Jerusalem. Vehement rage was roused, and in the course of mobilizing massive European armies into these regions the innocent people of Hungary (to name but one country) were raped and pillaged everywhere we went in transit almost without moral and without exception. And then, need we say, there were the wartime atrocities we committed upon the rival Muslims. The only wages Urban could afford were shares in the plunder and the promise to absolve of all their sins. Fear is not the same as offense. Offense can be drummed up. Offense becomes offensively irreverent.
Fear is not the same thing as conformity nor by proxy. There are a great many religious adherents that adhere to what they adhere to because that is what they were raised to adhere to, that is what their parents or peers or their culture tells them to adhere to, this is all that they have ever known to adhere to. Add to this that so many of these adherents revere the LORD by proxy. The pastor or the priest or the bishop or the cardinal or the divines or the apostles or the Pope consume the congregant's reverence. Their type of reverence requires an intermediary because they themselves do not have the type of reverence toward the LORD needed. After all they do not have the training nor the ambition to serve the LORD in these professional and conformable and legitimate capacities. The intermediary then is to be depended upon for the wisdom and knowledge and understanding that the common adherent presumes they need not have to have.
Fear is not to mean aversion. There are those that are afraid of the LORD, adverse to adhering to a system of beliefs because of the state of their moral conscience. Their guilt before God is deflected by their suppression of either HIS moral character or else even HIS very existence. But, neither is this fear the absence of aversion, the absolutely clear conscience, the supposition that HIS moral character is not intended for us because of our willful re-connection into HIS compassionate character. Fear is better along the lines somewhere in the middle where both we tremble before HIS awesomeness, being aware of and confessing our sinfulness, being humbled and pleading for HIS merciful and loving continuance.
Jehovah is the direct object to be worshiped, not any other man made notion of god. Self existent does not require man's invention; HE doesn't require man's input at all. There is not need for time nor sub atomic particles to put HIM together. HE is not whatever we (creation) imagine HIM to be. Any god that needs to be explained as beginning or created by is not this Jehovah. HE is powerful enough to have brought about all of this creation. HE is big enough not to be contained by it. HE is holy enough to easily survive all of man's groundless accusations.
Man is not this way nor is the vast universe surrounding man. Yet it is man that thinks himself that he is the one to call all of the shots. It is man that thinks himself to set the course. It is man that thinks himself to determine the moral code. By our own wisdom this generation has thought so hard as to not see God. It believes it has found a way to explain our existence without first the need for HIS. The fear of the LORD is not the beginning of this generation's wisdom and it has all the corresponding signs of self induced psychosis to prove that.
Even those of us who claim to worship this self existent one Jehovah, tend to worship more than HIM Church or Icons or Relics or Saints or traditions or works or rituals or doctrines or morality or nation or bloodline or ....
Fear being the beginning of wisdom, I suspect is true, regardless of the object it is being pointed to. Here the direct object is the LORD, it could just as well be death, or wealth, or peer pressure, secular humanism, agnosticism or any other consuming object as well. From the point of what one fears comes how one is going to proceed, what they are going to do, how they are going to do it, what urgency that they are going to give to it. This how/ what/ why/ to what extent/and the efforts value/efficiency is what comprises what we call wisdom. We could easily say that the wisdom of the world is as varied as it is is because the reverence that the world has is just as varied; if not more.
Let's suppose that the wisdom of this mistress "Foolish" is a product of her reverence as well. Here is what her form of wisdom is able to produce. The proverb does not describe her as having built or hewn nor set her table forth with anything. It does not suggest that she employees any maidens. All that is given is that she is loud and disruptive (clamourous), that she knows nothing, that she sits, and that her enticement is for something sweet and pleasant although stolen and secret. Perhaps she has stolen from Wisdom. Perhaps she has stolen from the life blood of the many that enter into her abode. The results of her reverence are exact opposite of those produced by Lady Wisdom, as contrasting for the adherents as life and death, and yet her place is also in the high place in the city.
"Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him" kjv@Proverbs:9:16. Compare this to the quotation of Solomon's portrayal of Wisdom "Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him" kjv@Proverbs:9:4. The two quotes are identical, but they both lead to a different knowledge and understanding and outcome.
Not only does verse ten state that "the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom", it states that "the knowledge of the holy (holy one) is understanding". It is one thing to have begun wisdom via reverence, another to understand what it is that has started, where it is going, and how it is getting there. Therein lays the importance of the "knowledge of the holy one". In Christian terms the Holy One is Christ. King David 1000 years before the time of Christ prophesied in kjv@Psalms:16:10 "For thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption". Jesus said in
kjv@Matthew:11:27 "... no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him". This then is the basis for our Christian understanding.
There are a whole lot of religious people who believe that they fear the "self existent Jehovah" in proper respect and yet they know not HIS "Holy One". Their wisdom diverges off a completely different direction into the realm of their very own works of obedience, their own righteousness, their own blood's purity and worth.
kjv@John:5:39 "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me".
kjv@John:5:23 @ That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.
The knowledge of the holy (holy one) is understanding, with understanding comes even more reverence, with more and more reverence comes more and more wisdom. This is the same wisdom testified to in the scriptures. The same wisdom that has built her house, hewn seven pillars, readied her banquet table, sent her maidens out to gather souls and has gone out herself calling from the high places. This is the same wisdom with Jehovah from before the foundations of the world, that has remained with HIM every step of the way since. It is the image of this Holy One that we were preordained to conform to ( kjv@Romans:8:29 ).
Given all the details we have considered, on would think it an easy choice to choose between Lady Wisdom and Mistress Foolish. Compared side by side knowing what has been built, what has been furnished, who has or has not been sent out, what the end outcome would be, why would anyone in their right mind choose the doorway of "Foolish"? Enter now what "Wisdom proceeds to tell kjv@Proverbs:9:6-12.
In verse 6 we are presented with two new terms "the foolish", those who would answer the clamorous call of "Foolish", and the "wise", those who would answer the persistent call of "Wisdom". In verses 7 8 + 12 the foolish are described by the attribute "scorner" shaming reproof and hating their reproover. The "wise" are described as forsaking (loosening self from) the foolish, following the way of understanding (knowledge of the Holy One), willingly receiving correction/instruction, becoming wiser and wiser through the process. What should have been an easy choice based upon the two principal actors now becomes a fierce struggle adding in the variances and temperaments of men. The section concludes with the statement "If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it" kjv@Proverbs:9:12.
What I believe the scorner to be scorning is the declaration "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding" kjv@Proverbs:9:10 and the whole notion "For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased" kjv@Proverbs:9:11.
It is obvious that the "fear of the LORD" is a much maligned and dangerous thing. Most modern believers are not up for the challenge, thick skinned they are not. We mostly revere the LORD from a comfortable distance, from a corner that the scorner has set aside for us where he can point to us every now and then and remind the other foolish how much they really hate us, and we try to win his favor back onto us. This is not the "fear of the LORD", it is the "fear of disfavor and harm". A truly reverent person has to "loosen themselves from" from the bonds of the foolish. Jesus put it "die" to self and "be not offended".
There is a part of this conflict that we are to blame for by our frequent less than reverent behaviors, part of this our wanting to be what others want us to be and such, but there is certainly a substantial part of this that would have come upon us regardless just because of who our LORD is and what we have become. At the entrance we are likely to to have the religious scorn us from their nearby gilded cage. From across the street will be the scorners scorning us with their mouths full of stolen sweets. In the thoroughfare we'll have the passerby's scurrying along in their attempt to avoid all this. Yet the LORD indeed deserves HIS due respects, it is not that we can cower to any of this.
So how do we become better at this? Well, just like Wisdom has long said "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding" kjv@Proverbs:9:10. This means true reverence toward the true LORD being the true start of a true wisdom, understanding by the knowledge of the true Holy One. This is not just the mere belief in and nominal observance of, it means the full engagement with. One cannot have one foot in one door and one in the other, the distance between the two are far too wide. Neither can one just stand outside the one door peeking in at the others thinking that they have already entered; that is not reverence, nor is it knowledge.
But, neither can one jump into this thinking that they know everything. Each of us are yet to know what it is we don't know yet, yet to understand what we've yet to understand yet. It is not until we enter the abode that we begin to know and begin to understand what will be required to be known and understood. It is not until then that Wisdom can actually show us all that has been prepared for us on her table, or her marvelous seven pillars. And because of this initial unknown, the scorners will scorn not being willing themselves to invest nor investigate into it.
Proverbs 9:4-6 kjv