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The Beginning of Wisdom


By Benjamin H. Liles

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever. ~ Psalm 111:10, New American Standard

           I have to say I admire Matthew Henry. When he wrote his commentary it was sometime in the latter half of the 17th Century, early 18th Century. He says of the last two verses os Psalm 111: 9, 10:

           "He sent redemption unto his people, out of Egypt at first, and often afterwards; and these were typical of the great redemption, which in the fulness of time was to be wrought out by the Lord Jesus. Here his everlasting righteousness shines forth in union with his boundless mercy. No man is wise who does not fear the Lord; no man acts wisely except as influenced by that fear. This fear will lead to repentance, to faith in Christ, to watchfulness and obedience. Such persons are of a good understanding, however poor, unlearned, or despised."

          So, truly, how can we have a true and healthy fear of God, having wisdom and thus following in His footsteps? I can grant a healthy look into how it looks, rather than works, through the person of Jesus Christ. As a man who walked among us, Jesus was both prodigious in the Father's words, works, and language. He claimed both to be God as well as His human agent, or as the gospel of John says of Jesus, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, [Jesus] declared [the Father]" (John 1:18, New King James).

          Even later in John's gospel, he records Jesus saying, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him. Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own. Instead, it is the Father dwelling in Me, carrying out His work. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me--or at least believe because of the works themselves" (John 14:6, 7, 9b-11, Berean Study Bible).

          Since the Son is sent of the Father, Jesus from God, into a hurting and broken world, God needed Someone who could become like us. He needed a man who would both be known to us who could take our sorrow and our pain, who would be both pleasing and willing to be a sacrifice on our part. "Wait. What?" Isaiah, in the vision he received from God, says of His servant:

          "He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; he was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:3-5).

          What does this have to do with the title of this article? Simply that without Jesus Christ stepping between us and the Father there would be no reason for us to fear God. By standing between the judgment of God on sin and its effects, putting it on display as well as bringing an end to spiritual death, we stand no hope before the God of this universe. 

          Take note of Jesus' words and see how important it is He went to bat for us on our behalf, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:28-31, New American Standard).

          Therefore, when we see Jesus telling us, "Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him" (John 14:21, 23, Berean Study). 

          What are these commands He reminds us to do? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40, New King James). Paul recorded what Jesus shown him through the Spirit: "Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1, Holman Christian Standard). 

           Then it stands within the faith and reason we have for believing Christ and other writers that the wisdom we ought to have towards God is with a willing, repentant heart, standing in the gap between God and man as God allowed since the days of Abraham until the very end. In other words, "Wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10, New American Standard).