Last week we began a special series about teaching wisdom to our children. Given the fact that knowledge currently “doubles” about every 12 months, our children will know more than any previous generation. However, another fact is that wisdom to use the growing volume of knowledge is diminishing rapidly.
King Solomon of Israel was the world’s wisest man. When he spoke, people listened. They were amazed at his combination of knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
“And God gave Solomon wisdom and exceedingly great understanding, and largeness of heart like the sand on the seashore. Thus Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the men of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men—than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish. And men of all nations, from all the kings of the earth who had heard of his wisdom, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” 1 Kings 4:29-34 (NKJV)
A good place to begin teaching wisdom to our children is through the words of Solomon and his father, King David.
Last week we looked at the importance of loving our own soul. This week we take the next step toward wisdom.
- Fear God.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm 111:10
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7
“Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Proverbs 4:5-7
Wisdom is the “principal” thing in life and it begins by having a reverential fear of God. Having a healthy fear of the Almighty God is a good thing. It prepares our hearts and minds to receive knowledge and with knowledge comes understanding. To teach wisdom to others we must first fear God. It’s like the fear a child has for their father. They love their father and their father loves them. The child wants to please their father in every way. They do not want to displease him. When they disobey their father, they see the displeasure and disappointment in his eyes. They don’t want to see that. They don’t want to receive his discipline. Wise children obey their parents because they love and fear them.
The Hebrew word for “fear” in Psalm 111 and Proverbs 1 is yirah. It is translated by many English words, including “fear, piety, reverence, awesome and revere.” Wisdom begins with reverential subordination to God. Most people in the world have made themselves “god” and glory in themselves. They are wise in their own sight. If they do worship a god, it is one of their own creation. Billions of people through history have made gods from wood and stone and made up their own religions from their human wisdom. God has laughed at them and destroyed their gods and attempts at human glorification.
The Apostle Paul told the sad story of the folly of human wisdom in his letter to the Christians in Rome.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” Romans 1:18-32
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” How true that is. Go to any bookstore or library in the world and you’ll see how the human race professes itself to be wise and in doing so they become fools. There is no wisdom outside of God’s Wisdom. There is no truth outside of God’s Truth. God Knows everything; He is All-Wise. The beginning of wisdom for any person is to fear God. That’s where it begins for us; that’s where it begins for our students. If we do not fear God, we cannot teach our children and the children of others how to fear God. If are “afraid” of God, we cannot teach reverential fear. We must know, understand and experience God’s Love as the great love of the greatest Parent Who has ever Loved. Our fear of God must be based on love and respect for God, not fear because we don’t want to get caught or be punished. If we fear God for the wrong reason, we play games with God, others and ourselves. We cannot model Godly fear for children that way. They’ll see we’re phonies and hypocrites and either walk away or learn more devious ways of playing the self-righteous, hypocrisy game. Each generation of game players becomes worse until faith loses all meaning and purpose. We must be real with God, real with ourselves and real with others. That’s difficult but necessary to having wisdom and teaching wisdom.
Having fear of a physical attack is healthy. It teaches us to be aware of our surroundings and be prepared for an attack that could come at any time, by any method and from any direction. We teach children and young people to defend themselves in scary situations in life. We introduce our students to ways of defending themselves against attacks that would frighten most people. We teach children and teens to defend themselves against yells and threats, grabs and holds, punches and kicks, tackles and throws. We teach them how to face someone carrying a stick, knife or gun. That kind of training would give most adults a severe headache. The training we give our students develops “knowledge and understanding” that leads to “wisdom” about how to deal with physical and mental attacks. They develop godly confidence and self confidence during their training that prepares them for the real thing. Being “afraid” doesn’t protect people. That leads to freezing or panic; just the reaction an attacker wants. “Fearing” an attack works because it leads to knowledge gained through training which produces skill and the wisdom to use it.
I invite you to spend the coming weeks and months considering what God meant when He said: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Here are some Scriptures to help you in your study. Meditate on His Word and make it part of the fiber of your life. Write your thoughts in a notebook or journal so you will be able to share them with your children and students.
Exodus 1:15-21 … 14:31
Leviticus 19:1-32 … 25:17
Deuteronomy 6:1-25 … 8:1-6 …10:12-20 …13:4 …14:23 … 17:18-20 … 28:58-62 … 31:11-13
Joshua 4:23-24 … 24:14-15
1 Samuel 12:14-24
2 Samuel 23:1-4
2 Kings 17:25-41
1 Chronicles 16:23-36
2 Chronicles 19:7-9
Job 1:1-22 … 28:28
Psalms 2:1-12 … 5:1-7 … 15:1-5 … 19:7-9 …22:22-24 … 25:12-14 … 33:8-9 … 36:1-12 … 61:1-8 … 66:16-20 … 67:1-7 … 86:1-11 … 89:1-7 … 96:1-4 … 102:13-16 … 103:13-18 … 111:1-10 … 112:1-3 … 115:11-18 … 118:1-4 … 128:1-4 … 135:19-21 … 145:18-20 … 147:11
Proverbs 1:7, 20-30 … 2:1-5 … 3:6-8 … 8:13 … 9:10 … 10:27 … 14:1-27 … 15:16, 33 … 16:6 … 19:23 … 22:4 … 23:17 … 24:21-22 … 31:30
Isaiah 2:10-21 … 11:1-5 … 29:22-23 … 33:1-6 … 50:10 … 59:19
Jeremiah 5:24-31 … 10:6-7 … 32:37-40
Acts 9:31 … 10:1-4 … 13:15-26
2 Corinthians 7:1
1 Peter 2:17
Revelation 14:6-7 … 15:1-4 …19:5-6
In Christ’s Love and Grace,