“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 (NKJ)
In Search of Wisdom
Man has always searched for the best method to assist him in making good decisions, right judgments and sound pronouncements. In primitive times, groups would cast lots and dices, leaving the outcome to the proverbial “fates” (Lev. 16:8; Joshua 18:8). In Israel’s early formation, decisions were informed by the High Priest who consulted the Urim and Thummin (Exo. 28:30). As the nation grew Israel deferred key moral and political decisions to God’s chosen representatives—judges and kings who were often counseled by wise prophets and priests. While the fear of the Lord offered motivation to seek “God’s face” (Num. 6:25-26), it was the knowledge of the Holy One that established the critical link to God—the source of all knowledge and wisdom.
Knowledge of the Holy One
The true source of wisdom is identified in the parallel statements found in Proverbs 9:10—the fear of the LORD and knowledge of the Holy One. In general, knowledge (da’ath, DAH-ath) provides insight and discernment based on personal experiences. It involves the process by which one can recognize, classify, and organize information gained from varied experiences and use them to develop an appropriate response. This “process of knowing” is illustrated in the story of Moses.
Moses’ early knowledge of God came vicariously through others he knew in Pharaoh’s court. Moses knew little about God therefore God had no part in his thinking or planning. Forty years later, Moses experienced God personally at the burning bush (Exod. 3:2). In seeing that the fire did not consume the bush, Moses recognized God’s power and holiness. Moses’ response to knowing God was awe and reverence (Exod. 3:5).
After witnessing the ten (10) plagues against Pharaoh and Egypt, Moses’ knowledge was exponentially expanded. As Moses observed (classified) the different ways God dealt with Pharaoh’s resistance, he knew that God was more powerful than any god worshiped in Egypt and that He was “more than able” to deliver His people (Exod. 3:6-8). Moses’ response to knowing God was obedience.
Moses’ knowledge of God through his various experiences resulted in the organized deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. Their collective response to God was worship and praise (Exodus 15: 1, 11). Pharaoh’s disregard of what he knew of God, on the other hand, led to the destruction of his army (Ex. 14:18). Pharaoh refused to factor in his knowledge of the Holy One.
Knowledge of the Holy One is the revelation of God (Ep. 1: 17-18). It shapes our reality so that we conform to the will of God and respond appropriately to the events of life. This knowledge reminds us whose we are (our relationship with God), who we are (our position in Christ), and how we are to live (in obedience and service to God). It is gained through our personal experiences with Him, through His revealed Word, and through the Holy Spirit. Knowledge of the Holy One is foundational for all wisdom and righteousness (Prov. 1:7).
SELAH: What shapes key decisions and choices you make with regard to your family, profession, and relationships—your personal experiences or your knowledge of the Holy One? Are you a Moses or a Pharaoh?