“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10
This is another one of the fortuitous pieces of scripture that has fallen into my lap lately. I sat down in my office early this morning, before most of the rest of the staff had arrived and had some quiet time. As sometimes happens to me I was battling with my focus, thinking about a million different things and wondering where I could get a cup of coffee quickly and easily. I went through my routine of a Gospel reading, a section from the prophets, and then moved into Proverbs. This scripture just hit me like a ton of bricks.
I have known this verse for a LONG time, it for some reason got burned into my brain long ago, but had gotten lost in the deep dark recesses. I think part of why it got lost is the fact that it talks about “the fear of the Lord” and this is a concept that often puzzles me. If the God we worship is indeed love then why should we fear something that is completely love. If I were translating this I don’t know if I could use the word “fear” I would like something more like “awe”. I think that is more of the feeling that I would want to portray about God in this passage. Fear is an emotion I do not have a positive mental attachment to, but awe is something altogether different.
When I hear the word awe I think of my experiences of hiking on the Appalachian Trail or riding my bike on Skyline Drive in Virginia when you get incredible panoramic views of God’s creation. When hiking or biking in the mountains you round a bend and all of a sudden you are faced with a view of beauty as far as the eye can see, it literally fills me with awe. We can use the word fear for this passage, but not being scared of God only being so in awe that we cannot grasp what we see or feel.
But how do we move into the second section of this verse the “knowledge of the Holy One” if God is something so completely different from us as humans how do we gain knowledge about Him? How do we come to any insight about God? I think this is a more difficult question, because we really cannot understand God. Often when we talk about knowledge in the modern sense we actually mean understanding. If we claim to “know about something” we claim to understand whatever it is we say we know. The problem is we can never understand God, therefore we need to adjust our concept of “knowing” God. We can come to know more about God through Scripture, Prayer, and our observing of the world around us. How do you learn about and learn to know God?