The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
—Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV)
The fear of man and what he thinks will keep us from receiving wisdom from God. The knowledge of God will give us understanding.
The choices we make to follow the Lord or to yield to the will of man govern the amount of wisdom we will receive. Whenever we yield to our human need for acceptance and recognition, we forfeit God’s wisdom. Anything that feeds our selfishness or pride keeps us from the wisdom that comes from an intimate relationship with God. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
If we want God’s wisdom in our lives, Proverbs 9:10 says the starting place is the fear of the Lord. This fear of the Lord is not being afraid of God. Instead, it is placing higher importance on God and His Word than on the judgments, requirements, and opinions of others. We cannot walk in the wisdom of God until our respect for the Lord is a higher priority than what other people think.
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.
—Proverbs 29:25 (NKJV)
Trusting God over the opinions of others brings life and peace (Romans 8:6). But yielding to the opinions of others for your life instead of yielding to God’s purpose ensnares you in emotional bondage and restricts God’s potential in your life. The fear of man will cost us God’s wisdom and eventually the respect of those we have tried to please.
Look at Saul. He told Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I have feared the people and obeyed their voice” (1 Samuel 15:24, NKJV). Saul humbly began as king and ended his reign in pride and destruction.
Eli’s sons brought dishonor to God with their sinful behavior. Though Eli was well aware of their behavior and asked them to quit, he took no action to stop them. Eli honored his sons and what they thought of him more than he honored God. Eli’s choice not to walk in the fearful respect of the Lord, ultimately cost him his children, his recognition as a man of God, and his own life.
David, however, responded to Nathan the prophet when confronted about his sin with Bathsheba. He knew God’s truth was best for his life. He repented immediately and said of God, “You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part you will make me to know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6, NKJV). He realized that a forgiving and open heart to God would bring God’s wisdom.
Jesus is the greatest example of listening to God instead of men. He certainly ignored the religious leaders of his time and had no desire to appease them or seek their opinion. He also chose to honor His Father’s will over the occasional advice of the disciples He had called to follow Him. The emotional pressures of others did not move Jesus. His delight was in the fear of the Lord. He did not respond to what his eyes saw or his ears heard from others (Isaiah 11:3). Jesus walked completely in the wisdom of His Father.
Do we walk in the fear of the Lord or the fear of man? Do we esteem the Word, which is Jesus—full of grace and truth—as our highest priority (John 1:14)? Or do we think more of what others think wishing to win their approval? Yes, we all desire to be accepted by others—especially those we care about and think highly of. But when we desire God’s wisdom above all else, putting Him first is always the beginning of wisdom.
“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom” Solomon wrote. “And in all your getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7, NKJV)
“We do not cease to pray for you,” Paul said, “and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9, (NKJV).
Paul prayed for us to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Listen with your heart and seek God’s wisdom in the Word. Ask for discernment and apply the understanding you receive in your life. Respect the judgments of God above the judgments of anyone else. You will receive fearful respect of the Lord and the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-5).
Wisdom from God can be found in the counsel of others (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22, 19:20). Always pray to discern if their counsel is the wisdom of the Lord or their opinions. A Word from the Lord from wise counsel quickens His will in our hearts. But trying to please the opinions of men will pull us out of God’s will and His plans for us. When we receive God’s wisdom and spiritual understanding, the opinions of others take second place to God’s opinion. We have a fearful respect for the Lord. We trust Him.
“Counsel is mine,” says the Lord, “and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength” (Proverbs 8:14).
There are many plans in a man’s heart. Nevertheless, it is the Lord’s counsel that will stand (Proverbs 19:21). The Lord appoints His will for His people. It is our place in Jesus. We have to seek His wisdom to know it. He will plant us so that we may dwell in our own place and be moved no more (1 Chronicles 17:9).
God’s will for us is His best.
© 2023 Lynn Lacher