Proverbs is a remarkable book, especially when applying it to the journey of authentic manhood and the father-son adventure. In verses 2–6 of Proverbs 1, the reader is given a specific kind of information. Almost every verse in this section starts with a purpose statement. This section is meant to reveal the purpose of the proverbs that follow.
The reader is told that the purpose is to give instruction, understanding, and insight to the youth and “the simple,” or to those who lack instruction, understanding, or insight, but also to those who have instruction already. “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance” (Pr. 5:5). The reader is told the following proverbs are not just for those who lack but for those who already have understanding.
So we might say that this book is useful no matter how much understanding or wisdom one already has, be it lots and lots, nothing at all, or any amount in between those two extremes. No matter how much wisdom we may have or lack, these proverbs are intended for us, because they are intended everybody. This then would certainly include those of us who are on the journey of authentic manhood.
So it seems that from the first 6 verses we learn that the book of Proverbs has something for everybody. Christian tradition generally holds that every book in the Bible has something to be gained. The difference in Proverbs is that we are directly told that this is the case.
We reach verse 7. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Pr. 5:7). This verse breaks the pattern of the purpose statements in the previous verses. However, the beginning of the book seems a fitting place for a statement that tells us about the beginning of knowledge. Because of the placement of this verse, we might deduce that knowledge is held in high esteem, even a goal.
Fear, especially the fear for the LORD, is deeper than intellectual knowledge. Also it is easy to think of knowledge as a separate “intellectual” domain, separate from feelings and emotions, or deeper experiences like fear. But here, we see a direct link between knowledge and the deeper experience of the fear of the LORD.
The fear of the LORD might be defined as recognition of God’s absolute power and authority over everything everywhere and so over one personally. For Christians, including men on the journey of authentic manhood, this phenomenon of the fear of the LORD is experiential because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, to move against this phenomenon would be moving against something much deeper than an intellectual topic or idea.
This deeper recognition of the reality of God’s authority over everything, and thus over one personally, is the starting place for knowledge. So it seems that one must be oriented in the fear of God in order to rightly begin to acquire knowledge.
This might be seen as a point of view, not as in an opinion, but as a position or bias from which one experiences all things. The same piece of knowledge will be different to two people who are oriented in two different points of view. It’s important to acknowledge that we all have a point of view or bias and that we are all assembling a worldview from that place.
The writer of Proverbs seems to be telling us that being under God’s authority is the point of view in which one can assemble knowledge in the most satisfactory way possible. It is the fear of the LORD that is the critical issue. It must come first and is more of a priority than the actual knowledge itself.
One other note about the fear of the LORD: the fear is because of the recognition of a supreme being who has authority over everything in the universe, including oneself. That can be a scary thought if you believe this is real.
However, as we learn who God is, we learn that God’s authority is the best thing that could ever happen to someone. With the recognition of His authority over one personally, one discovers more of who He really is. He loves us much more than we will ever know and is more forgiving than we could possibly imagine. He is our Father who loves us forever.
The fear of the LORD is the orientation place, the point of view, from which to assemble knowledge in the best way possible. For those of us on the journey of authentic manhood, this is where one begins. It is the starting place for the journey of knowledge and we must be oriented correctly in order to begin and continue our journey.