Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
How we look at God, Solomon is telling us, is going to affect how we look at all of life. It will change everything about how we view the world. This is where real wisdom must begin. When we get to know God as he really is, when we have a balanced and accurate picture of him, then we know not only him, but we can understand all of life. To the degree that we misunderstand God we will be confused about faith and life as well.
If we think of God as only the horrible Judge and Dictator, then our life will be joyless, peace-less, driven. We will spend all our time scurrying about trying to keep up with his orders. When something painful happens, we will assume that he must be paying us back for something we did to offend him.
If we think of God as some nameless, faceless, distant IT in the sky, nothing but an impersonal life force, then we might conclude that we are an insignificant part of the universe, and our lives are more or less meaningless.
If we think of God as a pansy, a milk-toast, a God who could never find it in him to get angry about anything; if he is only a sugary, grandfatherly Mr. Nice Guy; then we might think sin is no big deal. When trouble comes, we might assume that God is simply too weak to do anything about it.
But when we have a balanced view of the God, we see him as both just and merciful, the God of Law and Gospel. He is, as he so nicely summed it up for Moses, “The Lord, the Lord, the gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”
This is the God who will not let a single sin go unpunished, but a God who loves us so much that he punished every single sin in his Son Jesus Christ. Know him this way, know his hatred of sin, know his desire to save all people, and we will understand our purpose. We will begin to understand life whether we are experiencing prosperity or hardship, joy or grief.
Do you sometimes find life hard to understand? Sometimes we think that if we study our problems long enough we will be able to understand and solve them. That seems to make sense. It may be helpful to a degree. But Solomon would suggest we turn our attention in another direction. Knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Get to know God, learn of him, and you will find the wisdom and understanding to deal with everything else as well.