This commentary was previously published.
"The Call of Wisdom"
The lesson's title (a previous one) refers to verses 20 through 24 of Proverbs 1. Let us read it,
Prov 1:20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:
Prov 1:21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
Prov 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
Prov 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
Prov 1:24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
Notice that wisdom in this passage is personified. Who could wisdom be? Verse 23 gives us a clue: "I will pour out my spirit unto you…" This sounds like what the Lord tells Joel in chapter 2. Let us read it,
Joel 2:28-29King James Version (KJV)
28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Peter says that this verse was fulfilled at Pentecost. We expect this prophecy to be fulfilled again in a greater measure in the last days. Those who receive the "latter rain" will be rebuked, heed the rebuke, and love the rebuker - unlike the foolish, who refuse the rebuke and hate the rebuker (Proverbs 13: 1, 15: 12). God will pour His Spirit upon them. It is a clear reference to Laodicea, who the Lord rebukes about their condition, and some respond, and let Christ in them (Revelation 3: 15 - 22). Can wisdom be a person? Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1: 30). It is Christ who cries out, "come unto me all ye who tore burdened and heavy laden, … I will give you rest" (Matthew 11: 28 - 30). So, if Christ wants us close to Him, the fear of the Lord cannot be us being so afraid of Him that, like Adam, we run away from Him (Genesis 3: 9). Or even like the people at Sinai, who refuse to come close to God. The following quote is a note from the translators of the NET version of the Bible. I think it is enlightening. Let us read it,
"1 in Heb "fear of the Lord." The expression יְהוָה יִרְאַת (yir' at yÿhvah, "fear of Yahweh") is a genitive-female construct in which יְהוָה ("the Lord") functions as an objective genitive: He is the object of fear. The term יָרַא (yara') is the common word for fear in the OT and has a basic three-fold range of meanings: (1) "dread; terror" (Deut 1:29; Jonah 1:10), (2) "to stand in awe" (1 Kgs 3:28), (3) "to revere; to respect" (Lev 19:3). With the Lord as the object, it captures the polar opposites of shrinking back in fear and drawing close in awe and adoration. Both categories of meaning appear in Exod 20:20 (where the Lord descended upon Sinai amidst geophysical convulsions); Moses encouraged the Israelites to not be afraid of God arbitrarily striking them dead for no reason ("Do not fear!") but informed the people that the Lord revealed himself in such a terrifying manner to scare them from sinning ("God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him in you so that you do not sin"). The fear of the Lord is expressed in reverential submission to his will – the characteristic of true worship. The fear of the Lord is the foundation for wisdom (9:10) and the discipline leading to wisdom (15:33). It is expressed in hatred of evil (8:13) and avoidance of sin (16:6), and so results in prolonged life (10:27; 19:23)."
There are two kinds of fear: one that makes you run to God, and the other that makes you run away from God. He engages us and we respond with fear: run to Him or away from Him. Christ wants us to run to Him. One of my favorite authors had this to say about the fear of the Lord,
"The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Prov. viii. 13. It is not to be afraid of Him and shun His presence, but to hate and shun that which is unlike Him. The love of God is that we keep His commandments. And as hating evil is identical with keeping His commandments, so the fear and the love of God are similar. God wants all men to love Him, and "there is no fear in love." E.J.W., The Present Truth [British] April 4, 1895.
If Christ stands at the door knocking, will you let Him in if you are afraid of Him? If you believe that He is loving, merciful, compassionate, etc., will you not let Him in? It reminds of me of the beautiful words of the hymn,
The Savior is waiting to enter your heart,
Why don't you let Him come in?
There's nothing in this world to keep you apart,
What is your answer to Him?
Time after time He has waited before,
And now He is waiting again
To see if you're willing to open the door:
O how He wants to come in.
O, will you not let Him come in?