The Beginning of Wisdom
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
And that it is the beginning means that here you must start in obtaining wisdom. Paraphrased with the use of the New Testament equivalent of the fear of the Lord it means that all wisdom begins with faith in God. He who does not believe in God is a fool and nothing less than a fool. He has not even begun to obtain wisdom in his soul. You will have to give him that faith in God—and no man can do that—or else he remains nothing but a fool. That is why the psalmist states, “The fool bath said in. his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 14:1. Note, once again, that those who do not fear God will dare to rebel against him.
But the same element of truth must be noted here in regard to the instruction of our children. The teacher or educator who does not speak the language of faith, who is not himself a believer, who does not seek to train in that faith, cannot serve the wisdom of your child and only trains him to be a bigger fool. Fools come in all kinds of sizes; and that cannot be denied! Folly begins with a denial of God, with lack of faith in him, with ignorance of Him and ruling Him out of all the works of His hands. But there are degrees of folly to which all this leads men. Adam was a fool when he ate of the forbidden fruit and chose means to plunge himself and the human race to the worst possible end for man. But Oman today has increased in his folly and will increase until the days of the man of sin, the son of perdition who will sit in the temple and shew himself .there as God.. II Thessalonians 2:4. Then the folly of man will have reached its apex; and then the folly of man, will also be made-plain to the whole human race as the unbelievers are cast into the lake of torment.
Faith is not wisdom, but faith is essential to wisdom. And the fear of the Lord—which is faith in Him—is the beginning of wisdom in the sense that it is the principle of wisdom. Wisdom has its source in the fear of the Lord so that if the fear of the Lord is not in a man’s soul, no wisdom can be found there. Wisdom is that which flows forth and out of the fear of the Lord. Faith produces wisdom, and even as a tree without buds will never bring forth leaves or fruit, so the man without faith will never have wisdom. The fear of the Lord is the foundation on which all wisdom rests. Take a man’s faith in God away, deprive him of his fear of the Lord and you have robbed him of his wisdom. That is why Satan, the Big Deceiver is also the Big Thief! He made a fool of man exactly by robbing him of his fear of the Lord through the lie in paradise. Man, deceived into believing that God is not what He is, and so being robbed of his faith in God as He is, became fool enough to try to be God’s equal. And all today are born as such fools. Man from the moment of his birth rebels against God and seeks to dethrone Him. Today, with all his exploits and conquests in outer space, reaching beyond the planet on which God placed him, he looks so very wise to the men of his age and seems destined to greater wisdom; but as we look back upon the generations past and are amused at their stupidity and point out their folly, the Church of God in the new Jerusalem will look back and see the folly of the greatest of man’s achievements in the antichristian kingdom. The ungodly shall see this, and they shall lament over Babylon and its complete ruin. They will then understand how in utter folly they built their house on the sand. They built a beautiful superstructure from the view point of the flesh of man—upon a paper foundation. For they did not build in the fear of the Lord and were not guided by faith in Him.
Faith, or the fear of the Lord, is an essential element of wisdom. There is more to wisdom than faith, but take faith away and you take man’s wisdom away. When God gives His elect faith, He gives them the principle, the basis and foundation, the indispensable element of their wisdom. As we wrote before, wisdom is the ability to use knowledge aright. It is the power to choose the best means along the best way to reach the highest good. But that means that you have to know and believe that which actually is the highest good and by faith to see the means and the way as that which will serve the reaching of this goal.
Leaving aside for the moment true, spiritual wisdom and saving faith in God in Christ, it is true even as far as natural wisdom—to use the term for the present and to bring out the point—and faith in men and creatures is concerned, it is so very true that one will not choose the means that he does not trust, nor employ them in the way that he is convinced will not succeed. In this “natural wisdom”—which actually is folly—a man will not choose an acid, dry desert soil in a hot, treeless waste to plant his seed, when the goal or good he has in mind is food and an abundant crop. Jesus speaks of the fool who has a nice home with comfort and convenience for himself and his family as the good he seeks and then builds upon the sand in a area where torrential rains are known by him to sweep through the valley. The wise man, however, puts confidence and trust in the rock that cannot be swept away by the floods and fixes his house firmly to that rock. Both men may have the same goal in mind, but the one shows wisdom by choosing the proper means and putting his natural trust in that which is naturally strong and immovable. The other puts his trust in that which is not trustworthy, and fixes his hopes to that which is hopeless. Truly faith is an essential of wisdom even as far as “natural wisdom” is concerned.
And as essential as the proper means employed along and in the best way are, there is also the element of the highest good to consider. A man to be wise must select means and instrument that can serve the attaining of his goal. He must use them properly and know how to use them to achieve the end which he has in mind. But unless he has the ability to choose a good goal towards which to work he is yet a fool: in fact his use of means and method is in his folly a waste of time and energy. It is, as Solomon in his wisdom declares, “Vanity of Vanities, all is vanity.” All is vanity exactly because the natural man is a fool and works hard with all the earthly creatures to seek a worthless and hopeless goal. He will never become like unto God. He never will attain to true peace, joy and happiness apart from the cross of Christ. He never will conquer sin, death and hell by all his exploits and achievement, by his research and inventions, by his universities and educational systems. Natural man is simply wasting his time! Nay, worse than that, natural man is simply digging himself deeper into hell! He is adding reason upon reason for his utter and everlasting desolation in the lake of fire! He has good means—the whole of God’s creation—and a rational—moral nature according to which he can think, reason choose and plan. But all his choice and planning avails nothing and is just so much foolishness, because he is not and cannot seek the only good and the highest good. He can choose only to satisfy his flesh and to seek to exalt himself above God. He may be skilled and use his talents and possessions with what men call wisdom, but when he uses all these to oppose God, to go contrary to God’s command and in an attempt to set up and strengthen the kingdom of darkness, he is a fool, for he only adds to his guilt and insures himself a deeper place in hell.
Indeed, he has glimmerings of natural light left’ to him, and in that sense we can probably speak of natural wisdom, but note that our forefathers said of this natural light in Canons III, IV. Article 4, “But so far is this light of nature from being sufficient to bring him to a saving knowledge of God, and to true conversion, thathe is incapable of using it aright even in things natural and civil. (Underscoring is ours) Nay further, this light, such as it is, man in various ways renders wholly polluted, and holds it in unrighteousness, by doing which he becomes inexcusable before God.”‘ Plainly our forefathers knew nothing of and condemned the idea of a grace of God, or benefit of the cross of Christ whereby the reprobate natural man could do that which is pleasing in God’s sight even in things “natural and civil.” The Reformed faith has said and still says today that the natural man is a FOOL and in his folly performs no civic righteousness. Righteousness is that which is right in GOD’s sight and not simply that which looks good to man. We only deceive ourselves and talk foolishly when the highest good, or for that matter true good, for us is nothing more than that which satisfies the fleshof man, serves that flesh and is not an act of love to God.
Unless our goal is the glory of God, all that which we do in utter folly. That is the highest good—to glorify God—and that is the only good. Whatever fails to glorify Him, whatever serves any other purpose is evil. For that purpose we were made. For that purpose we receive rain and sunshine, life and health. For that purpose the earth turns on its axis, the sun gives its light, the rivers run into the sea, the sea gives up its moisture to the clouds and they in turn pour it down upon the land for food and drink. No creature exists for itself. And certainly man, made in the image of God does not exist for himself but for the God in Whose image he was created. We can quote text after text for this basic truth but three will suffice. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11. This is a general statement of all created creatures and objects. More specifically with a view to the Church, which shall through the work of salvation attain to this highest good, we read in Isaiah 43:21, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” The same truth in the New Testament we find in I Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” It follows, of course, and the wise can see that the creature is made for the sake of the Creator. The Divine Potter makes of the clay that which will serve His purpose.
The fool never takes this into account. Creation exists for him, so he thinks. History is his great adventure and is explained apart from the God Who with His hand moves all the creatures and fulfills His own counsel. The earth is filled with resources and creatures that man can press into the service of his flesh. He has not the fear of the Lord. He does not see the God Who created, sustains and gives these excellent gifts. And all that which this man does with these possessions is wrought in folly. For he seeks them and uses them for the wrong goal. He has not the glory of God in mind. And he has it not in mind, because he has it not in his heart.
Void of that faith in God, not believing it to be his calling to use it all in God’s service and to His glory, he acts foolishly and lives in a world of vanity. It is a vicious circle. Man comes out of the dust of the ground, serves that dust of the ground and returns to that dust of the ground. The wise man also comes out of the dust, makes use of that dust but through mind and heart, with tongue and soul he lifts these creatures of the dust in praise and adoration to God. He seeks and expresses the glory of God in and through them. His works ascend up to God on high. His life is not emptiness but fullness, and he lays up for himself treasure in heaven. He is no fool. In the wisdom which God gave him he sees all as God’s, chooses the way of God’s precepts with these creatures and directs his life to the glory of God. He is a wise man. And he is the kind of man who ought to teach your children.
You choose the wrong means to prepare your children to fulfill their life’s calling and obligation when you send them to those who will direct them to build their house on the sand and ignore the Creator while they use His creatures. Be wise! See the goal! Choose the right means, and employ them correctly that the man of God may be throughly furnished unto every good work.