A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Proverbs 1:7, 9:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
        fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
        and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. 

                                            (Proverbs 9:10 ESV)

For years I've been meaning to do a proper study of the Old Testament book of Proverbs (if good intentions were all it took, I'd have written my first novel by now) mainly because I haven't known how to approach its structure and content. The first several "chapters" are fairly straightforward to grapple with but it's the little snappy, discrete, two-part pithy sayings that throw me completely. Parallelisms... I think is the technical literary term for them.

So I got me a commentary, Vol 1 of 2 for now... by Bruce Waltke. And it's heavy stuff. Not just gravitationally challenging, which it is but there's obviously decades of serious scholarship to leaf through the dead tree edition (and I daresay a few trees went into compiling each volume). But it isn't dull or overly technical but I'm also immediately conscious that Professor Waltke does know a thing or two about dead/semi-comatose languages.

Years ago when I first started teaching adult ESL (English as a Second Language) at a private outfit, there was a fairly unserious unit about superstitions that we used to inflict on the students. In the course of the lighthearted discussion, there was also more serious talk about culture that accompanied these conversations. And really, the idea was to get the students talking and using language.

I grew up in a culture that was ripe with superstitions and over the years I've come to see that superstitions are the result of fear. They're a coping mechanism, irrational as they may seem, for dealing with deep-seated fear. My usually pragmatic elders had a ready superstition for every single naughty thing I did. But the one they really dreaded was any talk of death -- the thing that was not to be named.

I'm going to indulge myself a moment of geekiness and throw out a quote from Dune... "Fear is the mindkiller..." I can attest to that and add that it also cripples the body into inaction. But there is one kind of fear that does wonders for the mind and the body.

I fear many things. Some real and some unfounded.
But when I fall into such a state of mind, it seems to be about me. These fears are often about my inadequacies, insecurities. My lack of control over my circumstances. Everywhere I turn, I see a creature (myself) absorbed with self.
Fearing God, however, is about Him. He takes precedence over everything because He is above all things. Fearing Him puts things in their right perspective. Fearing Him is the key to wisdom in all things.
It is the foundation for living, the foundation to discernment when making choices in a flip flopping world, spurred by self-interest and inner impulses.

When I fear God, I stand in awe of his person, his character and his holiness. The more I think about him, the less I worry about me. At that point, I experience a paradigm shift: I see the world from His perspective rather than mine.

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