by Roland W. Keith
In his reply to Bildad’s charges in the Book of Job, Job asked, “But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living” (Job 28:12-13). He would go on to tell his friend, “God understands the way to it, and He knows its place… And He said to man, 'Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding” (Job 28:23, 28). Many years later King Solomon wrote, “then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of His saints” (Proverbs 2:5-8).
The “fear of the Lord” spoken of in scripture contains a measure of actual fear of God’s power and what He can do to us, as Jesus counseled, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28), however, its focus is on having a sense of “profound reverence and awe toward God” (Miriam-Webster Dictionary). In large measure this sort of fear is both learned and earned. A small child fears his parents. Why? If they are doing their jobs well it is because they are raising their child in a balanced and fair environment of love, understanding, nurturing, and discipline. To the child the parent is this big, powerful, wonderful, and (somewhat) fearful giant who loves and takes care of them. Parents are a source of protection, caring, instruction, and again, discipline. Through their efforts the child learns about the world, their place in it, their responsibilities to others, and they learn what it means to be loved and to love another. A child of such parents has reverence for them, and at least for a time a certain awe of them. This respect is both taught and earned. In comparison, as much as a parent deserves a child’s respect God deserves ours even more. As our Creator and Savior, it is His due. So where do we learn of this wisdom?
To gain this wisdom we must learn of God and come to place our faith in Him. As Paul wrote, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). We can add to this not only hearing, but reading and studying the word, and validating its truth, as well. Of the Bereans, Luke noted, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). As Christians if we want to grow in our knowledge and understanding we must not only hear and study the word, but we must also test it. As John instructed his readers, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (I John 4:1; also, I Thessalonians 5:21).
There are many in the world who claim a relationship with God, yet their real goal is to take advantage of and misguide those who seek after the truth. In regard to this Peter wrote, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (II Peter 3:17-18). In addition to testing the word we hear, we study it to come to a right understanding. The word was written to draw us to God and to guide us in a life devoted to Him as Paul explained to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17; also, I Corinthians 10:11).
As Followers of Christ determined to do His will in our lives and one day enter into the kingdom of God, we must continually meditate on His word. If we do not we are prone to forget and fall into error, and to remain unskilled laborers in His service, a situation that is untenable before the Lord (Hebrews 5:12-14; 6:1). Every football player on team does his best to memorize the play book and know his part in each play. A singer memorizes an entire catalogue of songs to sing on tour, Doctors study the latest discoveries and methods of treatment to stay current as health care providers. Why do Christians have such a hard time memorizing verses, or at least devising a quick reference system to put questions others may ask at an instance recall (II Timothy 4:2)? As Paul admonished his young protégé, Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
We must come to a thorough knowledge of the scriptures. As a skilled craftsman knows the secrets of his craft the servant of God understands the mysteries of God’s word, and knowing its power he is able to wield it with confidence as he puts God’s plan into action ((James 1:21-22). As members of the church we are to band together as a family (Hebrews 10:24-25), and as fellow soldiers in His army. We must be willing and able to put on the armor of God, prepared to fight against the forces of Satan (I Timothy 6:12; Ephesians 6:13). To come to the kind of wisdom and understanding that Job had we must come to know God, and to know God we must know His word. As the Psalmist wrote, “I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:101-105).
Wisdom, then, it not something that is gained by intellectual ability. Many a man with a high IQ have failed to achieve anything close to wisdom. To get wisdom one must come to know God, and to understand His word which leads to a right understanding of good and evil. Knowing these things, the one who has achieved wisdom will use that knowledge in the fear of the Lord, turning away from the evil that surrounds him in the world.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.