by Pastor Susan Humbert
The woman of the proverbial poem, as seen in 31:16, was one smart cookie. She saved some money, considered a field in which to plant a vineyard, and bought it. Not only intelligent, the poem describes her as a woman who feared the Lord. Boy, those are days long gone. Our American media takes every opportunity to portray the Christian as a nit-witted, out-of-touch, buffoon. But we know better. Our Bible is replete with instructions for cognitive pursuits such as wisdom, discernment, understanding and knowledge. Perhaps nuanced a little differently, they all begin from the same starting point.
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Why the fear factor? I liken it to my childhood relationship with my own dad. He was a school principal in the 60s and 70s when paddling was a common source of behavior correction. Wasn’t I the fortunate one who had a father who kept a paddle at work and one at home to share with us on those ever-so-special occasions. I loved my dad, but I had a healthy fear of my father because I knew what he was capable of if I ever decided to disobey him. Looking back, I realized that his rules weren’t burdensome. They were meant for my own good. A healthy dose of intelligence told me that if I obeyed my dad, I could escape the paddle.
Hebrews 12:6-8 “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines…it is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as sons…if you are without discipline, then you are illegitimate.
This is an easy transition, isn’t it? God, being the best Father any of us could hope for, is in no short supply of discipline for those He loves. It is the wise and intelligent person who operates first with some healthy fear of the Lord.