He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and judgments to Israel. He has not done this for every nation; they do not know his judgments. Hallelujah! [Psalm 147:19-20] The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline. [Proverbs 1:7]
Christianity is rooted in Judaism. That must never be ignored or denied. Judaism provides context for the New Testament. The New Testament loses much of its weight and impact when separated from Judaism. That is not to say that Judaism as practiced today is insightful, just that Jesus, the 12 original Apostles, Matthias (the man who replaced Judas Iscariot), and Paul were all Jews. It would be better to say that Christianity is the fullest expression of what Judaism was intended to be.
The essentialness of this understanding means that we, just as Jews have done, must wrestle with the Old Testament. The Psalmist declares that Israel (the Jews) are blessed as they know (and have experienced) God’s statues and judgments. The Psalmist basically is saying that everyone else has lost out, as they don’t know God. The Christian understanding is that people who don’t know Jesus as the Saving Son of God have lost out. While there is a difference, there is a strong similarity: not being of the family of God is losing out.
In Proverbs, the introduction ends on a powerful and significant note, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.” In this instance, fear is reverence and respect one feels towards one’s God. In other words, God is God, and I am not. Fools are those who do not have God in the right perspective. This takes the “losing out” aspect and adds on foolish. This is the foolishness of the despairing and dying. This foolishness takes on a number of forms, pride, shame, ignorance, fear and even hatred. The words of James guide us in how to answer this. Wisdom.
In particular, it is God’s wisdom that will guide the willing person away from the foolishness of the world, and toward the wisdom of God. As the bearers of God’s Word, we are to be humble and gentle. It is to come from a heart that knows God is God, and I am not. This same heart seeks to be like God and love those whose hearts are far away and draw them closer.
1) The world often looks at Jesus’ followers and shakes its head. It sees our human weakness, and attacks it. In light of the passages we’ve read, how can we respond?
2) What do you think worldly wisdom is? Can wordly and Godly wisdom ever be aligned?
KD) Why do you think it is important to remember that God is God, and you are not?