In the Absence of Knowledge


In a previous devotional we looked at the first part of verse 10 and how the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In this second part of verse 10 we are looking at how “the knowledge of God is understanding.” The two are related, of course, but different as well.

Fear of the Lord brings about a wisdom that surpasses all human understanding. It enables us to accept what we cannot explain, to be able to live more in accord with the liberating and empowering precepts of God. It allows us to see the limitations of all human philosophies and man made laws and to be more fully human in our moral lives. In becoming humble enough to accept the omniscience of God, who is love, is indeed the beginning of wisdom. It is this wisdom that fulfills our deepest humanity and makes us true children and humble servants of God’s love in the world.

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But what about the knowledge of God? When we come to know God, we come to know our deepest selves, for, as we are told in the scriptures, we are made in the image and likeness of God. To know this is to begin to love as he loved. To know God is to understand that our lives have an infinite value, and that this is true for each and every other human being. To know this is to understand the wisdom of treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves. To know the Holy One is to understand that all of creation is a product of God’s love, that it is worthy of our respect and our care. To know the Holy One is to begin to see Him in each person we meet. It makes us capable of becoming the saints we were made to be when God knit our souls and our bodies together in our mother’s womb. To know God is to love God. In this love we understand that all of God’s creation is holy and noble. It is to know that we are responsible for being just and merciful in all of our actions and words. It is to recognize the infinite dignity that each human being possesses and enables us to respect all of life from conception to natural death. This knowledge of God helps us to make a natural habit of our responsibility to be stewards of the natural environment. In short, our growing knowledge of God makes it possible for us to recognize the hand of God in all of creation and see the face of God in every human face. It is out of this knowledge of God that we begin to understand and to practice the liberating force of forgiveness and mercy in our daily lives.

We know only too well what the world looks and feels like when the knowledge of God is either missing, or incomplete. This is the origin of most our suffering, both at the personal level, at the level of society and culture, and at the global level. Where there is no knowledge of God there can be no justice or peace. Where there is no knowledge of God anything goes. If there is no knowledge of God, ego reigns and where ego reigns, there can only be enmity, injustice and violence. This is not new in the history of the world. The Book of Proverbs is full of the recognition of this truth. In Jesus Christ we are given a true knowledge of God. It is in him that we see the wisdom of God’s ways. In knowing Jesus and imitating him we come to understand and to live in accord with the wisdom of God.

Lord, help us to grow in our knowledge of you. For it is in you alone that we find the joy that our hearts desire. Strengthen us to be your true image in our daily lives. Enable us to be seekers of the good, the true and the beautiful in all things. We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.