Wisdom and the Fear of the Lord
INTERESTING FACTS : John Jay, PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS; DIPLOMAT; AUTHOR OF THE FEDERALIST PAPERS; ORIGINAL CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE U. S. SUPREME COURT; GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK
"I recommend a general and public return of praise and thanksgiving to Him from whose goodness these blessings descend. The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is always to remember with reverence and gratitude the source from which they flow."
"The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts."
"The evidence of the truth of Christianity requires only to be carefully examined to produce conviction in candid minds... they who undertake that task will derive advantages."
"Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
Daily Reading : PROVERBS 7 ? 9; 10 - 12
TEXT : Prv 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. 8:22 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. 8:30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; 8:35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. 8:36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. 10:19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongeth days: but the years of the wicked shall be shortened.
THEME : WISDOM AND THE FEAR OF THE LORD
In the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom is seen as a type of Christ in who is hid all the treasures of wisdom. [Col 2:2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; Col 2:3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.]
Frequently, the Fear of the LORD is mentioned throughout the Book of Proverbs. Thus, throughout the Book of Proverbs when you read "Wisdom" you can translate - "Christ." In addition, the value of the hidden treasure of Christ is of inestimable price. Thus, you want to read somewhat slower through proverbs to glean the wisdom found in Christ.
This chapter contains the instructions of Wisdom or Christ; showing the excellency of them, and the author of them, in opposition to the harlot and her allurements, in the preceding chapter. Christ, under the name of Wisdom, is represented as an herald, publishing the Gospel in the ministry of the word, either in person or by his servants, Pro_8:1. The places where this proclamation is made are described, Pro_8:2; the persons to whom, Pro_8:4. The excellency of the things delivered, being right things; truth, agreeably to the word of God, plain and easy to be understood, and of more worth than gold, silver, and precious stones, Pro_8:6. And then Wisdom, or Christ, is commended and recommended by his consummate prudence and knowledge, by his hatred of evil, and by his influence on the political affairs of kings and princes, Pro_8:12; and the advantages of those that are early seekers of him are pointed out; their enjoyment of his favour, of his riches, honour and righteousness; and their being led by him in right paths now, and inheriting eternal glory hereafter, Pro_8:17. And next follows an account of his existence from eternity as a divine Person, illustrated by a variety of phrases, Pro_8:22; and of his being with the Father; of his great affection for him, and complacency in him; and of Christ's wonderful delight and pleasure in the sons of men, Pro_8:30. And the chapter is concluded with an exhortation to them to hearken to his instructions; s etting forth the happiness of those that wait on him in public ordinances, and find him; and the misery of those that hate and reject him. [John Gill]
With regard to verse 13 in chapter 8, Gill goes on to explain the particulars of the fear of the LORD contained in this reference.
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil,.... All evil in general, evil thoughts, evil words, evil actions, evil company, evil worship, and evil doctrines; and by "the fear of the Lord", which shows itself in an hatred of evil, because of the loathsome nature of it, and being contrary to God and his will, and as it appears in the glass of the law, and especially in the glass of pardoning love, is meant not the fear of his judgments and wrath, or a distrust of his grace and goodness, much less an hypocritical fear, or a mere show of devotion; but a reverential affection for him, which is peculiar to children; a filial, godly fear, which is consistent with strong faith, great joy, and true courage; and is opposite to pride and self-confidence, and is accompanied with real holiness; it takes its rise from the grace of God, and is greatly increased and promoted by the discoveries of his love and goodness: this is brought into the account and description of wisdom, to distinguish it from carnal wisdom; to commend wisdom from its holiness; for this the beginning of wisdom, yea, wisdom itself, Job_28:28;
pride and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate; these are the particulars of evil, which Wisdom, or Christ, declares his hatred of. "Pride", which appears in men in thinking too highly of themselves, in speaking too well of themselves, in despising others, in setting up and trusting to their own righteousness for salvation, and in crying up the purity and power of human nature; this is very contrary to the spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus, and must be hateful to him: "arrogancy" differs little from pride, and the two words in the Hebrew are very much the same, very little differ; it is an ascribing that to a man's self which does not b elong to him, whether in things natural, civil, or spiritual; when men attribute their justification and salvation to their own works, it is arrogancy, and must be hateful to Christ; who been at so much pains and expense to bring in everlasting righteousness, and work out salvation for men: it is the height of arrogancy in a man to conceit he a power to regenerate, renew, and convert himself, and, with the haughty Arminian, Grevinchovius, to say, he has made himself to differ from others; this must be hateful to Christ, by whose Spirit and grace this only is done: and it is a piece of arrogancy when men ascribe all the good works done by them to their own power, when without Christ they can do nothing; which therefore must be displeasing to him. "The evil way", as Aben Ezra observes, is an evil custom and course of sinning; a man's own way, which he chooses and delights in, and which leads to destruction: "and the froward mouth" is the mouth that speaks perverse things; things contrary to a man's own heart, contrary to truth, to the rule of the divine word, to the Gospel, to Christ and his people, and to all men; which must be hateful and abominable to him who is truth itself." [John Gill]
In Proverbs 8:22, we have an important truth nestled in the context of the entire chapter. Specifically, it is the fact "Wisdom" [Read - "Christ"] was possessed by the LORD before the beginning of His works. This truth takes in two theological considerations.
The first, is the preexistence of Christ. This would, at very least, make Jesus Christ more than a mere man. This is again, when we see Wisdom in the Book of Proverbs equal to the person of Jesus Christ. In that case, Jesus of Nazareth is preexistent and therefore preeminent among men.
The next is Jesus Christ of Nazareth is God come in the flesh. Although this is not stated precisely in the Book of Proverbs, we know from the New Testament canon the doctrine of God's triunity is revealed. Therefore, as it is with some deep truths of the Bible, just under the surface of one verse, is a profound truth holding it up.
"A verse which has played an important part in the history of Christian dogma. Wisdom reveals herself as preceding all creation, stamped upon it all, one with God, yet in some way distinguishable from Him as the object of His love Pro_8:30. John declares that all which Wisdom here speaks of herself was true in its highest sense of the Word that became flesh Joh_1:1-14 : just as Apostles afterward applied Wisd. 7:22-30 to Christ (compare Col_1:15; Heb_1:3).
Possessed - The word has acquired a special prominence in connection with the Arian controversy. The meaning which it usually bears is that of "getting" Gen_4:1, "buying" Gen_47:22, "possessing" Jer_32:15. In this sense one of the oldest divine names was that of "Possessor of heaven and earth" Gen_14:19, Gen_14:22. But the idea of thus "getting" or "possessing" involved, as a divine act in relation to the universe, the idea of creation, and thus in one or two passages the word might be rendered, though not accurately, by "created" (e. g., Psa_139:13). It would seem accordingly as if the Greek translators of the Old Testament oscillated between the two meanings; and in this passage we find the various renderings ἔκτισε ektise "created" (Septuagint), and ἐκτήσατο ektēsato "possessed" (Aquila). The text with the former word naturally became one of the stock arguments of the Arians against the eternal co-existence of the Son, and the other translation was as vehemently defended by the orthodox fathers. Athanasius receiving ἔκτισεν ektisen, took it in the sense of appointing, and saw in the Septuagint a declaration that the Father had made the Son the "chief," the "head," the "sovereign," over all creation. There does not seem indeed any ground for the thought of creation either in the meaning of the root, or in the general usage of the word. What is meant in this passage is that we cannot think of God as ever having been without Wisdom. She is "as the beginning of His ways." So far as the words bear upon Christian dogma, they accord with the words of Joh_1:1, "the Word was with God." The next words indeed as sert priority to all the works of God, from the first starting point of time." [Albert Barnes]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "WISDOM AND THE FEAR OF THE LORD!"
In Wisdom [Christ] - is Life! This is the purpose of God the Son, coming the flesh - as a man. Namely, that you might have life! [Joh_10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to s teal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.]Thus, I repeat - read through Proverbs a little more slowly than other Books of the Bible. The reason is the subject[s] often change without warning - so to speak, and you want to absorb the Wisdom of your Savior. It will [that is, Wisdom] help you avoid a thousand times a thousand evils in this world. Then, in the world to come, you have eternity! Hence, to "find" Wisdom you must seek Christ as you seek nothing else. When you do, you will find Him, and the Life He gives. [Pro_8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. /Jer_29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.]
"For whoso findeth me findeth life,.... Of finding Christ; see Gill on Pro_3:13. Such that find Christ find "life" or "lives" (z), lif e spiritual and eternal; till they are found of Christ, and find him in effectual calling, they are dead; but, when called by his grace and converted, they live a life of justification and sanctification; they live a life of faith on Christ, of holiness from him, and communion with him: and such that find life in this sense find spiritual food in and from Christ, to support this life; and spiritual clothing, a justifying righteousness, called the justification of life, and which is the comfort of it; and rest in him, which makes life pleasant and delightful. Such an one finds that which of all things is most valuable, the life of his immortal soul; and which he can find nowhere else; and which, being found, can never be lost, for he finds eternal life in him; and has both a right unto it, and a meetness for it; yea, has the beginning, pledge, and earnest of it, 1Jo_5:11;
and shall obtain favour of the Lord; by which is meant, not favour among men, though that is had from the Lord, it is he that gives it; nor temporal blessings, for in this sense favour is not to men of spiritual skill and wisdom; rather spiritual blessings, an access to God, acceptance with him; the presence of God, and communion with him; peace of conscience, and every needful supply of grace: but it seems most principally to design the love, grace, and good will of God, the spring and fountain of all blessings: and "obtaining" it does not intend getting an interest in it, for that is free and sovereign; nor is there anything in men, or done by them, which can procure it; but an enjoyment of it. The word (a) used signifies a drawing it out, as water out of a well; and denotes that it is before it is drawn out or manifested; that it is in the heart of God, and lies hid there, from whence it flows as from a well or fountain; and is enjoyed in the exercise of the grace of faith; when the Lord remembers his people, and encompasses them about with it; or draws it out in great lengths, or grants continued and comfortable manifestations of it; see Psa_36:10." [John Gill]
What a unspeakable tragedy not to seek after Christ! What an inestimable mistake not to listen, learn, and walk in the path God has designed. For now, the path away from Christ seems right in = one's eyes. Yet, in the end it is the way of death - eternal death. On the other hand, what a reward to know the Wisdom of God. For in His Anointed One, we have blessings now, and Heaven forever! This is why Jim Elliot, missionary to the Auca Indians wrote in his diary on October 28, 1949 these words - "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Five years later he was dead at the age of twenty eight, killed by the same people he was trying to win to Christ. Yet, Elliot stand as the epitome of a truly wise man. He lost his life for Christ, and found it also in Christ where he is now, with Him, forever! [Mat_10:39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. /Mat_16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.]
"We have here the application of Wisdom's disc ourse; the design and tendency of it is to bring us all into an entire subjection to the laws of religion, to make us wise and good, not to fill our heads with speculations, or our tongues with disputes, but to rectify what is amiss in our hearts and lives. In order to this, here is,
I. An exhortation to hear and obey the voice of Wisdom, to attend and comply with the good instructions that the word of God gives us, and in them to discern the voice of Christ, as the sheep know the shepherd's voice.
1. We must be diligent hearers of the word; for how can we believe in him of whom we have not heart? "Hearken unto me, O you children!" Pro_8:32. "Read the word written, sit under the word preached, bless God for both, and hear him in both speaking to you." Let children age, and what they hearken to then, it is likely, they will be so seasoned by as to be governed by all their days. Let Wisdom's children justify Wisdom by hearkening to her and show themselves to be indeed her children. We must hear Wisdom's words, (1.) Submissively, and with a willing heart (Pro_8:33): "Hear instruction, and refuse it not, either as that which you need not or as that which you like not; it is offered you as a kindness, and it is at your peril if you refuse it." Those that reject the counsel of God reject it against themselves, Luk_7:30. "Refuse it not now, lest you should not have another offer." (2.) Constantly, and with an attentive ear. We must hear Wisdom so as to watch daily at her gates, as beggars to receive an alms, as clients and patients to receive advice, and to wait as servants, with humility, and patience, and ready observance, at the posts of her doors. See here what a good house Wisdom keeps, for every day is dole-day; what a good school, for every day is lecture-day. While we have God's works before our eyes, and his word in our hand, we may be every day hearing Wisdom, and learning instruction from her. See here what a dutiful and diligent attendance is required of all Christ's disciples; they must watch at the gates. [1.] We must lay hold on all opportunities of getting knowledge and grace, and must get into, and keep in, a constant settled course of communion with God. [2.] We must be very humble in our attendance on divine ins tructions, and be glad of any place, even the meanest, so we may but be within hearing of them, as David, who would gladly be a door-keeper in the house of God. [3.] We must raise our expectations of these instructions, and hearken to them with care, and patience, and perseverance, must watch and wait, as Christ's hearers, that hanged on him to hear him, as the word in the original is (Luk_19:48) and (Luk_21:38) came early in the morning to hear him.
2. We must be conscientious doers of the work, for we are blessed only in our deed. It is not enough to hearken unto Wisdom's words, but we must keep her ways (Pro_8:32), do every thing that she prescribes, keep within the hedges of her ways, and not transgress them, keep in the tracks of her ways, proceed and persevere in them. "Hear instruction and be wise; let it be a means to make you wise in ordering your conversation." What we know is known in vain if it do not make us wise, Pro_8:33.
II. An assurance of happiness to all those that do hearken to Wisdom. They are blessed, Pro_8:32, and again Pro_8:34. Those are blessed that watch and wait at Wisdom's gates; even their attendance there is their happiness; it is the best place they can be in. Those are blessed that wait there, for they shall not be put to wait long; let them continue to knock awhile and it shall be opened to them. They are seeking Wisdom, and they shall find what they seek. But will it make them amends if they do find it? Yes (Pro_8:35): Whoso finds me finds life, that is, all happiness, all that good which he needs or can desire. He finds life in that grace which is the principle of spiritual life and the pledge of eternal life. He finds life, for he shall obtain favour of the Lord, and in his favour is life. If the king's favour is towards a wise son, much more the favour of the King of kings. Christ is Wisdom, and he that finds Christ, that obtains an interest in him, he finds life; for Christ is life to all believers. He that has the Son of God has life, eternal life, and he shall obtain favour of the Lord, who is well-pleased with all those that are in Christ; nor can we obtain God's favour, unless we find Christ and be found in him.
III. The doom passed upon all those that reject Wisdom and her proposals, Pro_8:36. They are left to ruin themselves, and Wisdom will not hinder them, because they have set at nought all her counsel. 1. Their crime is very great; they sin against Wisdom, rebel against its light and laws, thwart its designs, and by their folly offend it. They sin against Christ; they act in contempt of his authority, and in contradiction to all the purposes of his life and death. This is construed into hating Wisdom, hating Christ; they are his enemies, who will not have him to reign over them. What can appear worse than hating him who is the centre of all beauty and fountain of all goodness, love itself? 2. Their punishment will be very just, for they wilfully bring it upon themselves. (1.) Those that offend Christ do the greatest wrong to themselves; they wrong their own souls; they wound their own consciences, bring a blot and stain upon their souls, which renders them odious in the eyes of God, and unfit for communion with him; they deceive themselves, disturb themselves, destroy themselves. Sin is a wrong to the soul. (2.) Those that are at variance with Christ are in love with their own ruin: Those that hate me love death; they love that which will be their death, and put that from them which would be their life. Sinners die because they will die, which leaves them inexcusable, makes their condemnation the more intolerable, and will for ever justify God when he judges. O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself." [Matthew Henry]