“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). This time of year marks the beginning of many going back to school after the summer break. A new start should bring the anticipation of development and improvement unto maturity. However, there can be learning only if there is the proper approach to learning. Solomon is addressing this at the beginning of the book of Proverbs. Consider three thoughts about the basic attitude of respect for the Lord as it relates to learning.
- Respect for the Source of All Learning. The Lord is the ultimate teacher. The proverbs of Solomon were not simply short statements of his personal experiences. It is written, “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. . . . And he spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five” (1 Kings 4:29-30, 32). Solomon’s wisdom was inspired of God, not mere human accumulation of learning by the experiences of research. There is no need of trial and error with God’s wisdom for it is perfect in nature. Whenever anyone despises the Lord and thus despises the divine revelation of the word of God, it is to his own detriment. The apostle Paul stated of God and His instruction, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:33-36).
- Respect for the Sacrifice It Takes to Learn. Learning does not simply take place by sitting in front of a teacher and letting the words go into the ears. There is work, hard work, to be done to attain unto learning. One must respect the price to be paid to gain that learning in order to become wise. Solomon wrote, “Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God” (Prov. 2:3-5). Too many are not willing to be that “workman” (2 Tim. 2:15) that finds himself approved of God. Laziness and apathy eat away at the mind while worldly pursuits and pleasure turn learning into a wasteful existence. As the old adage goes, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
- Respect for the Structure of the Highest Learning. The knowledge that comes from God is a well-ordered life. There is structure and the use of proper judgment in all decisions of life guided by the inspired word of God. Solomon warned about fools who despise “wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). It is the Lord who directs the paths of those who acknowledge Him (cf. Prov. 3:6). When one fears the Lord, he will depart from evil (cf. Prov. 3:7). There is a path to follow in life and that is the one marked by the instruction of heaven (cf. Prov. 10:17). The Lord made man and knows what is best.