"The beginning of wisdom"

HOW many of us in the early study of Christian Science have been puzzled by the apparently disquieting statement in the ninth chapter of Proverbs, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"? Are we really to fear the Lord—the Lord whom we are just beginning to love and trust and to understand as that perfect Love which casteth out fear? Our dawning understanding seems to rebel against it. Taken literally, such a statement is inconsistent and contradictory, and so we must search for its inner meaning.

Solomon was probably the first to utter these words. The quotation also occurs in the one hundred and eleventh psalm, but this psalm is generally attributed to a much later period than David, and so the author was probably simply quoting Solomon's own words. However that may be, we are justified in taking for granted that he who "was wiser than all men" should be able to guide our footsteps into the path of wisdom; and the first step, he says, is to fear the Lord. The divine wisdom with which he was so richly endowed, however, had guided him to explain his meaning before making this statement, for in the previous chapter we have his explanation in the clearest possible terms. Wisdom herself is supposed to be speaking, calling upon all to hear the truth, and comparing the joys of real knowledge with worldly wisdom. In the thirteenth verse she proclaims, "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil." Thus we may now read, To hate evil is the beginning of wisdom! What a simple explanation, and what a mist is thereby cleared away!

The hating of evil, therefore, is the first footstep on the upward path, and we cannot take the second before the first is accomplished. Mrs. Eddy says in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 253), "The divine demand, 'Be ye therefore perfect,' is scientific, and the human footsteps leading to perfection are indispensable." It will be found that the justifiable substitution of the few words above referred to, throws light on many passages difficult to the beginner, and the time occupied in studying and transposing similar passages with the aid of a concordance will be found full of interest and enlightenment. This little contribution—the first offered by the writer for publication in a Christian Science periodical—goes forth with an intense longing that it may prove helpful to some one, as a little token of loving gratitude for the many, many benefits she has received through Christian Science, and in fulfillment of her earnest desire to be able to give as well as to receive.

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"Be ye therefore perfect"
May 28, 1921

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