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Proverbs teaches wisdom and understanding

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Today’s bible study is Proverbs 22:4: By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.

This verse seems a bit difficult for many of us since we have been taught to trust and love the Lord rather than to fear him. Fear is a concept that is very evident in the Old Testament, but far less evident in the New Testament. To understand the concept of fear, it is helpful to consider the theme of the Book of Proverbs concerning fear of the Lord.

The overwhelming theme of this book and particularly the first nine chapters is introduced – reverence for God. This reverential awe and admiring submissive fear is foundational for all spiritual knowledge and wisdom. While the unbeliever may make statements about life and truth, he does not have true or ultimate knowledge until he is in a redemptive relationship of reverential awe with God.

The progression is interesting to note as Proverbs speaks of the fear of the Lord. First there is teaching about God, then learning about god, followed by fearing God and knowing God, and finally imitating God’s wisdom. The fear of the Lord is a state of mind in which one’s own attitudes, will, feelings, deeds and goals are exchanged for God’s.

How is this to be accomplished for us? Perhaps it would be more helpful to consider the purpose of Proverbs as it pertains to wisdom and understanding. To the Hebrew mind, wisdom was not knowledge alone but the skill of living a Godly life as God intended man to live. This refers to the discipline of moral nature, understanding. Thus word looks at the mental discipline which matures a person for spiritual discernment.

This is a huge concept and one which we, as Christians, strive for and try to understand as we proceed on our own spiritual journeys. Proverbs also engages in the proves of schooling a son in the disciplines of wisdom, discrete counsel, the ability to govern one’s self by choice, justice, the ability to conform to the will and standards of God’s practical righteousness and judgment, the application of true righteousness in dealing with others.

Are most of these not the same things that many of us were taught as we were growing up and that we not are teaching to children of our own? Wisdom, discipline, justice, righteousness – these are some of the cornerstones of our Christian faith and Proverbs, in the wisdom of the ages, is as practicable today as it was when it was written.

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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