Old Testament: 1 Samuel 15 & 16
* Poetry: Proverbs 9
New Testament: Acts 3
An interesting comparison is made in Proverbs 9 between two personified figures called “Lady Wisdom” (v. 1) and “Lady Folly” (v. 13). An elaborate scene is painted where Lady Wisdom is said to have prepared a great feast and is inviting everyone in the town to come eat her delicious food. Part of her invitation to dine with her involves exhorting people to leave behind their “naïve ways” so that they can live. If they come and eat with her, they will gain understanding.
The first questions that one might ask are, “Why is Lady Wisdom throwing a party? And what does eating at someone’s house have to do with learning to make good choices in life?” Those are great questions! The answer is that the first part of the chapter where Lady Wisdom is inviting people to come dine with her is an ancient custom where someone who accepts an invitation to a meal is agreeing to be associated with that person and also open to their company and influence in their life. Essentially, Lady Wisdom is asking you to welcome and embrace her as a friend and a trusted counselor by coming to dine at her table.
Secondly, if you want someone to lend you their ear and hear what you have to say, what better way to do that than to throw a party and have everyone come over. Now, the whole scene of going to the house of Lady Wisdom for dinner is clearly a metaphor for going to her and allowing her to feed you with her wisdom so that you will become wise.
One of the most important proverbs of all is 9:10, “The fear of Yahweh is the starting point of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is the starting point of understanding.” This is an incredibly simple but profound statement: “fear of Yahweh is the starting point of wisdom”. Wisdom begins with the “fear of Yahweh,” and if wisdom begins with the “fear of Yahweh,” then everything else builds from there.
The Hebrew word translated “fear” can mean “to be afraid,” (i.e., terrified), but it can also mean to have “reverence” or “respect” for someone or something. The “fear of Yahweh” mentioned in the Proverbs 9:10 is the second definition and refers to living with a proper awareness and mindfulness of the reality of Yahweh’s rule over all creation, which includes his authority and power to not only govern the universe and all things that happen within the cosmos, but also as the owner of all truth and understanding about life. Yahweh is the source of all knowledge, and no right understanding about how to best live can be attained apart from him. Only when we live with the “fear of Yahweh” can we begin to understand wisdom and knowledge, for only when our hearts are properly oriented toward Yahweh will we be able to receive his grace in sharing with us the wisdom and knowledge that only he can bestow.
But there is another dimension to the “fear of Yahweh,” and that is that it also entails the idea of loyalty and faithfulness. Living with the “fear of Yahweh” involves adjusting our lives so that we are in a right relationship with Yahweh; it means to understand life and all knowledge through that covenant relationship. Fearing Yahweh (i.e., showing reverence) is demonstrated by loyalty and faithfulness through loving him and obeying him by living according to his commandments and statutes. Thus, by submitting to Yahweh and abiding in a covenant relationship with him, we prove that we honor, love, and revere him.
Are you willing to dine with Lady Wisdom and learn the “fear of Yahweh” and be on the road to living with wisdom? I hope so, it is going to be the beginning of the greatest adventure you will ever have.
- Are you willing to dine with Lady Wisdom and learn the “fear of Yahweh” and be on the road to living with wisdom?
- Do you “fear” – revere and respect Yahweh enough? What is the danger in not fearing Him? What can you do to show more reverence and respect?
- What can you learn about Yahweh in today’s reading?