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THE FEAR OF GOD

August 22, 2017

*Good morning. Today we are going to move on in to the Book of Proverbs. I know that we did not spend much time on the Psalms, but there are so many Psalms and they each speak to different emotions and thoughts that we could be in that book forever. The Book of Proverbs is a very interesting book and I hope you enjoy our time spent in it.

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Proverbs 1:7) The fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom is a fundamental theme of Israelite wisdom. In wisdom literature, however, the fear of the Lord is not understood as terror or fright, but in reference to deep awe and reverence for God. When one has this fear of the Lord, then one lives all of life in devotion to God.

 

According to the writer of Proverbs (credit is given to Solomon), wisdom is something that can be taught and can be learned. The Book of Proverbs is, in fact, introduced as a textbook in wisdom. "The Proverbs of Solomon...for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair...let the wise listen and add to their learning." (Proverbs 1:1-3,5)

 

The prologue is then framed as the instructions of parents to their son: "Listen my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching." (I:8) The son will have a choice to make; will he choose the practice of wisdom, or will he be a fool? It's up to him. Proverbs presents life as a journey of two ways; the way of folly and the way of wisdom. In Proverbs wisdom and folly are made to look like real people. This is called personification. Wisdom is portrayed as a respectable and proper woman. (Proverbs 1:20-33, 8:1-36, and 9:1-6) How is folly portrayed? Yes, just the opposite; a loose and deceitful woman who is lying in wait for the young son to deceive him with sensuous pleasures. (7:6-27, 9:13-18)

 

Wisdom, as mentioned, is female in Proverbs. (so is folly) The Hebrew word for wisdom is hochmah, which is feminine in gender. Now, here's something to chew on: "By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew." (Proverbs 3:19-20) Wow! Just when we think we knew how God created the world, there is a twist. But, it doesn't end with this passage: "The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning before the world began." (Proverbs 8:22-23) Then we are told: "I was there when he set the heavens I place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep...Then I was the craftsman at his side..." (Proverbs 8:27,30) Wow! What role did wisdom play in the creation of the world? Remember back now to those words: "Let us make man in our image..." (Genesis 1:26) The question remains: 'Who is us?" Oh I know there will be those who will argue until the cows come home that "us" is the Holy Spirit, but there is more evidence that "us" is not that easy to identify. Proverbs implies that wisdom was there at the creation of the world.

 

Well, there is certainly no more vivid passage than chapter seven. The father (presumably) speaks to the son and says: "Say to wisdom, 'You are my sister...they (wisdom and understanding) will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words." (Proverbs 7: 4-5) Then it is as though we discover the father watching from afar to see what his son may do. "At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed the young men, a youth who lacked judgement. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house...Then came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute...She took hold of him and kissed him..." (Proverbs 7:6-810-13) The story continues with the young man giving in to the enticement and following her "like an ox going to the slaughter..." (Proverbs 7:22b) The father uses this as a warning to his sons. "Her house (folly) is a highway to the grave..." (Proverbs 7:27a) The mistress, folly, tries to entice her victims into abandoning honorable behavior for immediate gratification.

 

Well, we have a lot to discuss, so tomorrow we will look at what it is that God hates. Yes, God hates certain things and we will look at what they are. I hope you have a great day. -Pastor Rick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Madison United Methodist Church is affiliated with the West Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To learn more about WVAC, please visit www.wvumc.org. 

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