Proverbs 4:7 begins: chokmah re’shiyth= “wisdom first”. However, it is translated awkwardly as ‘wisdom is the principal thing’, or ‘the supreme thing’, and then adds; and with all your getting, get understanding. This wordy, over translation can be easily understood with this simple statement: Wisdom precedes understanding.
In other words, trying to understand the word of God without divine wisdom will always fail, and the results are evident in the range of interpretations obtained by trying to gain understanding through knowledge.
This is why Jesus said: I tell you this truth, you must be born from above. John 3:3.
This verse is usually mistranslated as ‘born again’ to align with 1 Peter 1:23, but then a footnote is added to inform the reader conveniently ‘or from above’, which is what is actually written. This is critical to properly connect this statement with many other verses on the subject, particularly in regard to wisdom.
Gentle Wisdom from Above
Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct let him show his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast and lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, nonspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, not hypocritical. James 3:13-17.
Understanding divine truth requires divine wisdom. This is taught in a simple, childlike way by Jesus; ‘Ask, and you will receive.’ This was also taught by his forerunner, John the Baptist:
John answered, “A man can possess nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” John 3:27.
He then adds later, “The One who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth is of the earth, and of the earth he speaks. The One who comes from heaven is above all. And what He has seen and heard, He testifies to that.” John 3:31,32.
The Voice of the Bridegroom
In between these two statements we find a now familiar expression that has been used for discipleship training, stewardship, names of books and outreach ministries. This is the phrase ‘friend of the bridegroom’ and the extraction of that title from context clouds the real significance of the verse.
He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. John 3:29.
The most important point of this statement is for the friend to hear the voice of the bridegroom. This point is brought into clear emphasis by Jesus in His Good Shepherd discourse in John 10. This is critical to receiving the wisdom from above, and is the focus of all devotions. Whether we are praying, singing psalms, studying the word, reading passages aloud or meditating in His presence, the ultimate goal remains consistent, to hear and recognize the voice of the good shepherd, the bridegroom, the Master.
The Fear of God
This relationship of the disciple to his master’s voice provides the correct understanding of ‘the fear of God’. When one first begins to recognize the presence of the Lord and hear the voice, the experience can be a bit unnerving. However, the real fear of God should result from losing that contact.
The gift of the Holy Spirit develops this relationship, and the proper definition of the fear of the Lord is ‘to maintain a continual awareness of His presence’. Jesus explains this way; ‘abide in Me, and I will abide in you.’ John 15:4.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. James 1:17.
Now we can properly relate the fear of God to wisdom.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One (the I Am) is understanding. Proverbs 9:10.
Yeshua said, “You are from below; I Am from above. You are of this world; I Am not of this world. Therefore I told you that you will die in your sins. If you don’t believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.” John 8;23,24.
So Yeshua said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am. I do nothing by Myself, but speak just what the Father has taught Me.” John 8:28.
Then Yeshua said to the Judeans who had trusted Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly My disciples. You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free!” John 8:31,32.
Jesus then said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” John 8:58.