A reflection on Proverbs 9:8-10
“Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
The ‘righteous’ and the ‘wise’ are ways of talking about those who trust in and follow after the God who made the world and who sent His Son to rescue it. In fact, we see this in the summary of true wisdom and knowledge here. True wisdom and knowledge comes in the fear of the LORD.
That is, to realise that the Almighty God who made the world, who created humanity in His own image, the one who we have turned away from and do not naturally follow after – this Holy God who could wipe us out in a second, turns to us with love.
He can’t stand our turning away, and it must be punished. But He sent His Son to take the punishment for our wrong! Jesus came to lay down His life for us. So, to fear God, is to understand His power, His set apartness from sin and sinners, His right to rule and judge those who disobey, and yet His mercy toward us, His offer of forgiveness and eternal life to us through Jesus sacrifice.
To fear God is to Who He is, and to live in response to this. To turn from that which does not please Him, and seek to live a life following after Jesus, trusting in His death to cover our wrongs and His resurrection to justify us before the just and holy God.
So ‘God fearers’ are learners, someone who can be rebuked, open to the correction of others. Seeking instruction, teaching, not proud, and arrogant, but humble and contrite in spirit, trembling at God’s Word.
This is true and eternal wisdom: this is the fear of God, that right response to Who He is and what He has done.
My prayer for myself, and for you, is that we would be humble learners. Those who acknowledge our wrongs to God and to one another. Those who trust in and hope in only Jesus and His cross to forgive us and change us.