As we enter the book of Proverbs, we do so with many preconceived ideas and old-time favorites. So many have memorized Prov. 3:5-6 (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Lookee there – i typed that from memory myself!) that people have written the words into songs. In fact, I have 3 different songs just of these words in my small guitar repertoire.
But this book is much more than just a collection of witticisms by Solomon and others. It is not on par with Mark Twain’s cutsey one-liners, or a collection of church-sign witticisms. These are the very words of God, and in them we find the true path to wisdom.
Wisdom is, in fact, one of the primary purposes of the book. So much so, in fact, that there have been movements in the past that sought to make Wisdom (“Sophia” in the greek) a fourth member of the then misnamed Trinity! Since Solomon anthropomorphises Wisdom to such an extent, these people saw it as an actual person. And the teaching about wisdom begins in the Prologue: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Do you fear the Lord in this way? This is not a phobia about God, where we spend time looking over our shoulder out of fear that God might be near but is rather a healthy respect and true understanding of God’s size, power, and import. Anyone who has done any reading in scripture or praying will have at least glimpsed the Creator God, the One who rules over Death, Satan, and all things. And with this comes a healthy fear of the Lord. And in this, we find the beginning of wisdom. To know God in all His glory and not fear Him is the thing of fools. Would that we feared Him more.