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The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

 

Reading through the first verses in Proverbs sounds promising. Yes, I want to receive instruction in wise dealings. Sure, I want to understand a proverb and a saying and the words of the wise and their riddles. Absolutely, I want to know wisdom and understand words of insight. Solomon has got me hooked to learn the secret to wise living and discover the key to human flourishing. But then, in somewhat a surprising way, he comes right out of the gate with the secret. He says it all begins with the fear of the Lord.

That means the key to wise living doesn’t begin with a google search for “human flourishing.” I tried and what pops up is the Greek word “eudaimonia,” commonly translated as ‘happiness’ or ‘welfare.’ This idea of human flourishing is becoming popular and it refers to the holistic concern for spiritual, moral, physical, economic, psychological, and social contexts necessary for human beings to live according to their design. We all want human flourishing and many people are advocating for it in various ways – community initiatives, social services, counseling assistance, physical and vocational training, etc. But, did you realize human flourishing foundationally begins with the fear of the Lord?

The book of Proverbs uses many images to illustrate human flourishing. Solomon describes life with wisdom as: heads crowned with beautiful honor, necks carrying pendants of triumph, dwelling places secure, hearts at ease, and the absence of fear (Proverbs 1:9,33). He describes life in the house of wisdom as sitting down around a large feast with bread and fresh wine (Proverbs 9:1-6). But, in each of these chapters, he comments on the centrality of the fear of the Lord. Experiencing more of God and living in ever deepening relationship with him is the basic secret to human flourishing. God is the essence of wisdom. Every word he says is wise. Every action he does is wise. That’s why we continue to flourish and grow in wisdom when we continue to get to know this God. Today, get to know God by reading his experience with Moses and hearing what words God used to describe himself.

 

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there,
and
 proclaimed the name of the Lord.
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed,
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,
keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,
but
 who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers
on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.
And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight,
O Lord, please
 let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people,
and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for
 your inheritance.”
– Exodus 34:5-9

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By Yvonne Biel  

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