Wisdom and the fear of the Lord.

So, post the ‘owl incident’ I’ve been thinking more on wisdom. In the Old Testament you find the ‘wisdom books’ – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. I’ve always loved Job in a funny kind of way, I guess going through some kind of suffering, in my case being ill, makes it mean a bit more than it otherwise might. But if you’d asked me what it was about, I wouldn’t have first said ‘wisdom’, I would have said it’s about something like faithfulness.

So, what is wisdom? where does that come in? Is wisdom just being very wise, full of intelligence and maturity? generally giving good advice on situations? Although let’s face it we don’t exactly see that from Job’s friends… Well, as I discovered in one of my classes this term, at the very centre of the book of Job (literally the centre, at 28:28), is this:

And he said to humankind,‘Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.’

But it’s not the only place that says this, of course these books are all about wisdom so here’s a few more mentions too:

Psalm 111:10 says this:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,To him belongs eternal praise.

and Proverbs 1:7 says:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

So then are we to understand that wisdom is simply found in the fear of the Lord and shunning evil? To be wise, to be filled with wisdom then, we need to fear the Lord and turn from evil?


I’m not sure that wisdom is something that we prize much these days. Wisdom to me means so much more than just knowledge, maturity, or making the right decisions, it’s always had a supernatural air about it. Like those who are wise are led by something more than themselves into the things they share. And isn’t that what the bible is telling us, that wisdom comes from a relationship with God? Fearing the Lord isn’t literally about being afraid, it’s more than that, deeper than that, it’s about awe and conviction and an inner pull towards something so holy that it can’t be described. 

There’s something about experiencing God that is like a magnet, like an unseeable force drawing you towards it, there’s nothing you can do to fight the pull as it draws you slowly, completely, towards that final inevitable conclusion. It’s that pull, that draw, which at times feels full of fear, and such holiness, that all you can do is fall to your knees in wonder. 

No words can fill that space. No emotions. Just abandonment…

Is it then, in that place where we experience the wisdom of God? that we are slowly, gradually, inevitably filled with his knowledge? 

I think so. The wisest people I know are those who have spent a lifetime in God’s presence. Short life or long, they are the ones who truly know the presence of God and the insight that it brings. They are the ones that have abandoned themselves to being led by him, to being taught by him, to knowing him.


And in all this, with the owl incident, everything God has been teaching me is about seeking him first. About spending time with him, being led by him, being taught by him and about being ruthlessly abandoned to him.

There were never going to be any short cuts to Wisdom, even our secular ideas of wisdom picture someone (or something) old, mature and seasoned. And it’s just like that with God, the more we spend time with him, the more we are filled with him. The longer our lives, the more time we have spent with him.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be like one of the wise people I look up to, giving out such pearls of advice to rookies like me, but that’s ok, because I’m not sure I’m seeking wisdom for wisdom’s sake. I’m seeking God, for his sake…

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  • Reply
    March 24, 2015 at 6:43 pm


    I can remember as a child thinking that anyone who'd lived to the grand old age of 30 must have heaps of wisdom:(

    Off course, I soon learned that age isn't a guarantee of wisdom, any more than youth is. What I did learn was that some people, who might not be scientists, engineers or teachers, had an aura and sense of being trustworthy, who you could share with and who would listen, without judgement and would offer you a pathway out of the mess that you've confided to them, that wasn't going to be impossible to take, because it would be just too unbearable to follow.

    They were sometimes Priests, sometimes doctors, but most often, someone who you'd learned to admire and respect through their sheer goodness of nature and outloook that was respectful of all of creation in ways that I often find hard to emulate.

    And one or two of them weren't Christians. But still seemed to have the inbuilt ability to fulfill the role of confidential friend and adviser without any strings attached.

    Perhaps all had found their wisdom through a life lived close to God, even if they didn't or couldn't acknowledge him formally. I don't have any answers – but equally, I'd say that they were all without sin, although their lives might have been hard in the past, with suffering and even some trauma which could have left them bitter and unhappy, but instead had made them whole in a way that I aspire to be.

    They just knew themselves inside out, and were confident enough in their relationships, not to hide behind smoke screens or the facade that we can all put up from time to time to conceal what's going on underneath.

    I can now see that wisdom isn't a given in everyone, but something that develops as we learn to live with and to know God, to place our trust in him totally, to surrender ourselves into his love, and as Paul wrote, "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered"(1 Cor 13:4-5). Surely that is wisdom?

  • Reply
    March 25, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks Ernie. Yes I think we all need people like that in our lives. Provokes a question in me that comes up regularly, that as a Christian should we always seek advice from those who share our faith? Is wisdom from non-Christians still wisdom in a Godly sense?
    For example, I would always advise those that need counselling to go to a Christian counsellor (if they are Christians themselves) because there is something about the deeper understanding, from a position of faith that reaches people. Not that I think those who don't have faith are not 'wise' but perhaps in a different sense maybe…
    Jules 🙂

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