The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight…. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 1:1-2; 9:10a
A study done in 2012 by researchers at Stanford University examined the feeling of awe and its effect on people’s experience of life. They found that awe enhances a person’s sense of well-being. They also found that people are willing to volunteer their time to help others, tend to focus less on material things, and experience greater life satisfaction. The findings of this study are not surprising. We know from everyday life that experiences of awe and amazement can inspire us to do or try things we thought to be beyond ourselves. Awe can bring great perspective or clarity, and can both humble and inspire us.
The book of Proverbs speaks about the experience of awe: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs took shape at a time when the nation of Israel faced significant change, transition, and turmoil, and it was used in the family context to train youth to live rightly and responsibly before God— to grow in wisdom. In Proverbs 9:10 two important concepts converge: fear of the Lord, and wisdom. Fear is reverential awe, respect, and wonder in response to God’s majesty. Such a posture of standing in awe of God’s majesty, says Proverbs, is the beginning of wisdom. It is the way to skillfully live in the midst of a broken world. No theme dominates the book of Proverbs more than wisdom, and wisdom begins with reverential awe of God. Proverbs is an exposition of what it means to live wisely in the circumstances of everyday life, and it touches on every aspect of life: seeking and doing good, sexual morality, work ethic, self- concept, relationships with family and neighbors, integrity, poverty and wealth, speaking well, cultivating one’s inner life.
Skill in living well in our world touches on these areas and more, and it begins with fear—the reverential awe of God. The book of Proverbs is more than pithy sayings and parables. The Hebrew word translated “proverbs,” mashal, comes from the root verb that describes the act of ruling, reigning, or exercising dominion. Proverbs provides a deep foreshadowing of Jesus’ teaching on what the rule of God, the kingdom of God, looks like in the daily life of God’s people.
PONDER: What elicits awe in your life and to what extent does it help you live wisely? (Consider leaving a comment below.)
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•• PRAYER ••
by whose providence all Holy Scriptures were written
and preserved for our instruction,
give us grace to study them this and every day
with patience and love.
Strengthen our souls with the fullness of their divine teaching. Keep from us all pride and irreverence.
Guide us in the deep things of thy heavenly wisdom,
and of thy great mercy lead us by the
Word unto everlasting life:
through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.
Awe is an overwhelming feeling of admiration. While we can be in awe of everything from the successes of our sports teams to the beauty of the setting sun, Proverbs reminds us that the one who deserves true awe is God. As we think about who God is, we should be overwhelmed with reverence and awe for him.
Read Proverbs 9:10a. What kind of fear is this verse talking about? The beginning of wisdom
is being in awe of who God is. Read a few of the following passages out loud: Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Samuel 22:22-24; Psalm 48:14; Psalm 62:7-8; 1 John 4:16. How can these verses help us be amazed and awed by God?