Meditating on Proverbs 15:33

These are some thoughts that came up using the method demonstrated by John Piper in a video linked previously from this blog. The text is Proverbs 15:33.

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.
Proverbs 15:33

The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.

  • fear of the LORD
    • reverence
    • to tremble before an awesome God
    • keeping his commandments (Ecc 12:13)
    • not rebelling against him or exalting one’s own will
  • fear of the LORD
    • not of man / wise men / powerful men (Pro 29:25)
    • the creator, whose plan is from the beginning
      • the first and ultimate decisions about what is and what will be
    • covenant God, God committed to his people
      • the shepherd, a light in the darkness, a cloud (to follow) in the wilderness
      • provider (manna, quail, water)
      • the one who disciplines (Heb 12:7)
  • IS
    • becomes, or functions as
    • can’t be separated / replaced
  • instruction of wisdom
    • instruction that is wisdom (?)
    • instruction that produces wisdom (?)
    • not instruction produced by wisdom (doesn’t fit the structure of the proverb)
  • wisdom
    • better than precious stones + metals (Pro 3:13-15, 16:16)
    • better than great physical strength (Ecc 7:19)
    • a defense (Ecc 7:12)
    • a glory (Pro 3:22, 4:8, Ecc 8:1)
    • sustaining and enriching (Pro 3:16)


  • before honour is humility
    • parallels the previous idea
    • humility leads to honor, but pride leads to destruction (Pro 16:18)
    • humility will receive the instruction (Pro 13:1)
    • humility will submit to God…
      • what God has made
      • what God allows
      • what God commands
    • humility won’t…
      • fight against God
        • the creator
        • the provider
        • the shepherd
        • the one who disciplines

After extended consideration, rather than seeming like a mystery, this proverb begins to look like an axiom. It is, as if by definition, the fear of the lord produces wisdom.

Imagine not showing reverence for God: how could it be called wise to resist God himself?

In one sense, the first idea in this text, “the fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom”, is a specific example of the second idea, “before honour is humility.” Humility must precede honor in every case. The Lord Jesus taught us to be humble for this very reason, Luke 14:8-11.

This has tremendous application for raising children. If you would like your son or daughter to be honored, train them in humility. It is very fitting for a child to understand themselves to be inferior to their parents. We know that parent and child are made of the same stuff, and that the child will one day overtake the parent in physical strength and mental ability, but for the time being, the parent is superior to the child in a hundred ways. Let the children learn to be obedient, let them learn to be quiet, let them learn to show great respect for their parents. These habits will bring them wisdom and honor. These habits are directly transferable an adult’s relationship with God and other authorities.

On the other hand, to train the child to think of himself as an equal with his parents is to train him in foolishness. It is to set him on the course of destruction. If he belittles his parents’ authority, he is destined to be resisted by the creator God. Indeed, you have trained him to resist God. It is God’s design that children obey their parents, Eph 6:1-3.

God has created the strong and the weak, the wise and the ignorant. He delights in the proper arrangement of inequality. None of us will ever attain to godhood, we will always have him (at least) above us. If we don’t learn to give him respect, we will be foolish for our entire lives.

Learning to give respect is not an academic exercise, by the way. The primary challenge is not bringing the mind to grasp the superior ability of someone else. The primary challenge is bringing the heart to be at rest in an inferior state.


tiny lantern

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s