“First Things First, House Rules” | Proverbs 1:7 Sermon

First Virtual Sermon

We have been live-streaming in-person services at Alpha Baptist Church for a couple of years now. However, because COVID-19, we transitioned to live-stream only services a few months ago.

As a result, we have tried to substantially improve the quality of our live streams, moving to a multi-cam set up with audio mixers, Scripture slides, etc. Typically, I and others on the “Stream Team” are off-camera and in the background trying to monitor these various aspects of the stream.

This past week, as our pastor (and my father) prepared to go on vacation, I had an opportunity to preach (I’ve been live-streaming Bible studies on Wednesday nights for months now but this was my first time preaching on a Sunday this year).

Thus, I prerecorded the video, edited it, and simply premiered it during our usual live stream.

Stylistically, I was going for a vlog-style video that is common among YouTubers. It is fast-paced, full of jump cuts, and peppered with visual aids.

As we know, people have short attention spans and I wanted to keep viewers engaged for the full 30 minutes.

Sermon Video

Sermon Audio


Sermon Slideshow

To download the slideshow featured in the video, please click here –> Alpha Church Slides 7-19-20 Edited

Sermon (Extended) Text

(Gray text was not included in the video, audio, etc.)

Good morning. I thank the LORD for allowing me to stand before you today. And, I also thank Pastor Scotton for this opportunity.

May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps 19:14, NASB).

First Things First?

Ever hear the expression, “first things first”? People may say something like: I know you want to have fun, but make sure you “put first things first”.[1] But what does it mean to “put first things first”?

As it’s been said, this expression tells us that “more important things should be done before less important things”.[2]

For example, when I was growing up, my parents told me that I had to finish my homework before I could go play. I just couldn’t understand why they thought that reading and math were more important than video games. They thought that doing well in school was more important than having fun. I had to keep first things first.

House Rules

These were the rules. The house rules. Most of us are familiar with house rules, right? It means that while others might do things differently, in this house – in this location – we play by this set of rules.

For example, when you go to many people’s houses, before you walk on their carpet, they say, “please take off your shoes.” Before I do so, I have to ask myself a few questions. “When was the last time I washed my feet?” “Did I scrub in between the little piggies or was it more of a rinse in the shower?” “Do my socks my match?”

These are questions that run through my head. But, I’m not going to argue about it. Why? Because, it’s not my house. Their house; their rules!

My parent’s house had many house rules. For instance, after I ate a meal, I had to wash the dishes.

Now my parents had it good. They had three dishwashers. One was right next to the sink and I forget the brand name. But, the names of the other two were Terrance and Danny. Truth be told, I didn’t even know how to operate a dishwasher until age 30.

My wife had to explain it to me. I’m like, “Wait a minute, you’re telling me that all I have to do, is put dirty dishes on these little trays, play a little Tetris so they all fit, put a little pod in this little compartment, close it up, press Start, and a few minutes later I got clean dishes?” I said, “this is magic!”

I love doing the dishes now. Sometimes, too much. My wife likes to cook with cast iron pots and pans. After I made the mistake of washing some of them in the dishwasher, she calmly explained that I had made a grave mistake.

I understand now, honey; I have seen the error of my ways. There will be no more cast-iron cookware in the dishwasher. House rules.

House rules can also be found in games. For example, there’s a popular version of basketball where there are no teams. Every player keeps their own individual score. And whoever reaches 21 points first, wins.

Now this game is called “21”, “oak”, “rough” and many other names. And there are many variations in the rules.

Sometimes you can grab a rebound and shoot the ball immediately, sometimes you have to take the ball back behind the line first. Some people score with 1’s and 2’s, others score with 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s.

The rules are often discussed before the game starts. But they typically depend on how the game is usually played on that court. House rules.

Ever played games like spades or Monopoly? If so, you know that while there are many ways to play, often when you play at someone’s house, everyone has to play by the house rules.

Now when I was living in my parent’s house, if I ever questioned one of the house rules, I would get a familiar answer. “Dad, why can’t I stay up all night and watch TV?” – “Because I said so!”

“But Dad, my friends get to stay up…” – “Well, this ain’t your little friends’ house! When you get your own house, you can have your own rules. My house; my rules.”

I say all that to say, Proverbs is essentially about God’s house rules. God’s house rules.

Many parents have told their children, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it.” Well, God created this world, and He can take us out of it. This is God’s world; we’re just living in it.

The Purpose and Motto of Proverbs

Proverbs is written to instruct people in godly wisdom. And godly wisdom is about living in God’s world by God’s rules.[3]

The Book of Proverbs is full of wise advice[4] about God’s house rules. The first few verses tell us that the book is written for readers

2 to learn wisdom and discipline,

to understand words of insight,

3 to acquire the discipline of good judgment,

righteousness, justice, and fairness,

4 to give prudence to the naïve,

knowledge and discretion to the young (Pr 1:2-4, AT).

The book tells us that

5 the wise will listen and increase in learning,

the one who understands will get guidance,

6 to understand proverb and parable,

the sayings of the wise and their riddles (Pr 1:5-6, AT).

Then, in verse 7 of chapter 1, we find the motto of Proverbs:[5]

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,

but fools despise wisdom and discipline[6] (Pr 1:7, AT).

This motto frames the first section of Proverbs (chapters 1-9) (cf. Pr 9:10)[7] and the entire book of Proverbs (cf. Pr 31:30).[8]

For example, Proverbs 9:10 says:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,

and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Pr 9:10, NIV).

Then in Proverbs 31, the popular chapter about the virtuous woman, verse 30 reads:

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Pr 31:30, NIV).

The fear of the LORD is also a theme that runs throughout biblical wisdom literature (cf. Job 28:28; Ps 111:10; Pr 9:10, 15:33)[9] and elsewhere in Scripture – whether entailing fear as in terror (cf. Ex 19:16, 20:15-18, 33:20; Is 6:1-7)[10] or fear as in loyalty (cf. Dt 10:12; Job 28:28;[11] Is 11:2, 33:6).[12]

Fear of the LORD

But, what does it mean to fear the LORD? When we hear the word fear we often think of being terrified – of being afraid.

Just the other morning, my wife cried out from downstairs, “Danny! Danny!” I came downstairs and I’m like, “What happened, what’s wrong?”

She calmly explained to me that there was an itsy bitsy spider that had said good morning to her. Now, bugs don’t bother me so I’m like, “Oh no… that’s terrible… OK so, I’m going to back to bed now.”

People are afraid of different things. Some people are afraid of spiders, some are afraid of thunderstorms, some are afraid of the dark. I think I slept with a night light until I was at least 10.

And, while my wife likes scary movies, if I watch one, I would need the night light yet again. People are fearful of different things.

But the fear [יִרְאָה | yirʾâ)] of the LORD is not mainly about terror,[13] but about awe,[14] respect,[15] and “reverent obedience.”[16]

“It is giving God the respect He deserves; treating God as God.”[17] This is God’s world; this is God’s house. And, in God’s house, rule No. 1 is to respect the Homeowner.

And the fear of the LORD is a major theme that runs throughout the entire book[18] – it actually appears fourteen times.[19]

Later in Proverbs, the fear of the LORD is associated with gaining true knowledge (Pr 1:7, 29, 2:5, 9:10),[20] turning away from evil (Pr 3:7, 8:13, 16:17[21] cf. Pr 16:6)[22] being humble (Pr 22:4),[23] and being cautious (Pr 14:16)[24] – in addition to being rewarded with riches and honor (Pr 22:4),[25] and enjoying long life (Pr 10:27, 14:26-27, 19:23).[26]

For example, Proverbs 22:4 says,

“The reward for humility and fear of the LORD

is riches and honor and life.” (Pr 22:4, ESV).

Proverbs 10:27 says:

 “The fear of the LORD adds length to life,

but the years of the wicked are cut short.” (Pr 10:27, NIV).

Proverbs 14:27 says,

“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life,

turning a person from the snares of death.” (Pr 14:27, NIV).

Finally, Proverbs 19:23 says:

“The fear of the LORD leads to life;

then one rests content, untouched by trouble.” (Pr 19:23, NIV).

Now, most proverbs are not meant to be read as blanket promises without exceptions. But, generally speaking, living by God’s house rules in God’s house leads to God’s blessings.

On the other hand, breaking God’s house rules has repercussions – it’ll cost you.

Fear and Love of God?

So, fearing the LORD is clearly wise. But, that being said, this may sound kind of confusing, because Scripture tells us to both fear and love the LORD (cf. Dt 6:5. Mt 22:37).

As quoted by Jesus in the New Testament when asked about the greatest commandment, Deuteronomy 6:5 says:

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Dt 6:5, AT; cf. Mt 22:37, etc.)

How can we fear God and love God at the same time?

This is an important issue because in our cultural “addiction to good feelings”, even from our pulpits we often emphasize “themes of love and grace that promote good feelings at the expense of themes of rebellion, brokenness, and repentance.”[27]

Now, like I said, my parents told me I had to do my homework before I could go play. But, can I be honest with you? I didn’t always do what my parents told me to do.

So, before they got home from work, once we got home from school, my brother and I would be hanging out, watching TV, playing video games –things we knew we shouldn’t do – until our homework was done. We weren’t putting first things first.

But when Mom came home, things changed. When she drove up, we knew we only had a few seconds before she walked in. So, we hurried up, put everything away, and started doing our homework before she stepped in the door.

Because we loved Mom, but we also feared Mom. We loved Mom, but we knew we had to obey Mom.

In Scripture, the concepts of love, reverence, and obedience are often connected (Jn 14:21, 23-24, 15:14, 1 Jn 5:3).

For example, Deuteronomy 10:12 says,

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Dt 10:12, NIV).[28]

In John 14:15, Jesus says,

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (Jn 14:15, NIV).

Both loving and fearing the LORD entail obeying the LORD.[29] And we must strive to do this – at all times.

At All Times

When we drive, we all see the signs that show the speed limit. We all know how fast we should be going.

Now if we get caught speeding and get pulled over, there’s going to be repercussions. It’ll cost you.

Now, can I be honest with you? I don’t always drive the speed limit. And I know I’m not the only one; many people drive over the speed limit.

However, just because many other people break the rules, does not make this right. We speeders know we’re wrong.

Why? Because if we’re speeding and we see a police car nearby, what do we do? If we’re wise, we slow down. But once the police car is out of sight, what do we often do? We speed right back up.[30]

Because I respect the police, I try not to break the rules of the road when they are around. Because I respected my mother, I tried not to break the rules of the house when she was around.

And if we respect the LORD, we should try to not break the rules of God’s house – because He’s always around. Unlike police officers and parents, The LORD is always present. God is always watching.

The LORD = YHWH, the Name of God

And the LORD refers to not some distant God far off in the cosmos. Whenever you see, The LORD in all capital letters in Scripture, this is the Name of God revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Ex 3:13-15) (YHWH).[31]

It is likely pronounced Yahweh. When we say, “Hallelujah”, jah is an abbreviation for Yahweh. Hallelujah means “praise the LORD” – “praise Yahweh”.

This is Name God revealed to His people. It is so holy that, out of reverence, many still do not dare pronounce God’s name; they fear the LORD.

And fearing the LORD entails not only thinking right about God, but relating right to God.[32]

You see, many people know a lot about the celebrities they idolize. They may know where they grew up, the schools at which they studied, even their favorite foods to eat. But few fans have a personal relationship with their idols.

There’s a difference between knowing someone and knowing about someone. You can know personal details about someone – without having a personal relationship with someone.

True knowledge of God entails not only knowing the right details about God but having a right relationship with God[33] – one of reverent obedience (cf. Pr 2:5)[34] and dependence.[35]

The Name of the LORD (YHWH) is the covenantal Name He personally disclosed to His people[36] – the people He graciously rescued from Egypt and planted in the Promised Land.[37]

God saved His people from slavery not so they could be free to live life on their own terms, but so that they could be free to worship and serve the LORD. The LORD has Moses tell Pharaoh this time and time again:

“…This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Ex 8:1b, NIV; cf. Ex 4:23, 5:1, 7:16, 8:1, 9:1).

As a faithful response to God’s grace, they were to respond in good faith by keeping the LORD’s commands. These commands outlined how they were to relate to God (cf. Dt 6:10-19).[38]

God took them out of their Egyptian slaveowner’s house, and eventually gave them their own house. And then He gave them His house rules.

Indicative Precedes the Imperative

As we’ve said before, in Scripture, the indicative precedes the imperative. That is, God indicates what He has done before He commands what we should do.

Before the LORD gives the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:3-17), He reminds them of their relationship: As we see in Exodus 20:1-2: “1 And God spoke all these words: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Ex 20:1-2, NIV).

Because God graciously saved them, therefore they should faithfully obey.

Now, we should obey God’s house rules not only because He created this house, but also because He sent His Son to die for us, bearing the consequences of us breaking God’s house rules.

God gave us new life through the Resurrected Lord. He has given us everything we have and will give us more than we can possibly imagine in heaven. Thus, it’s only right to reverence Him.

Because God graciously saved us, therefore we should faithfully obey.

Beginning: First Things First

Proverbs tells us that it’s wise to fear the LORD by obeying His house rules. This book is full of wise advice for life,[39] but it puts first things first.

The most important thing to learn in life, is to reverence God. This is why the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. It is the “first step”[40] (but not something one leaves behind as if progressing to another stage. (cf. Ec 12:13).[41] Even the wise ought to add to their learning (Pr 1:5).[42]) 

It is the primary principle.[43] It is the foundation that is fundamental to everything else in life.[44]

Beginning (רֵאשִׁית | rēʾ šît) could mean “essence or chief part” [45] – first in importance.[46] But in a parallel verse, Proverbs 9:10, it reads, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Pr 9:10, NIV).

Here, another word translated, “beginning” ( תְּחִלָּה | tĕḥillâ) is used.[47] And this word more precisely refers to that which is “first”[48] (chronologically, “starting point”)[49]  – referring to the “first principle of wisdom”.[50]

Speaking of wisdom (חָכְמָה | ḥokmâ), given its use in Pr 9:10, it seems that wisdom and knowledge are somewhat interchangeable terms.[51] That is, in Pr 1:7, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, while in Pr 9:10, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

If you want to learn how to read, you must first learn the alphabet.[52] If you want to learn how to do math, you must first learn the numbers.[53] If you want to learn how to play an instrument, you must first learn the notes.[54]

If you want to learn true wisdom, you have to first learn to fear the LORD.

Moreover, once you learn how to read, do math, or play a musical instrument, you “never cease to need”[55] to know the alphabet, numbers, or notes. Similarly, when seeking to live wisely in God’s world, one never ceases to need the fear of the LORD.

Those who are wise, respect and obey the LORD.

Fools Act Foolish

In contrast,[56] fools despise godly wisdom and discipline. To despise godly wisdom and discipline is to consider them “worthless”.[57]

It means to look down on them as if they were insignificant[58] – as if they were not important.

Throughout Proverbs, those who are foolish are contrasted with those who are wise (Pr 10:8, 14, 11:29, 12:15, 14:3, 17:28, 29:9).[59]

For example, Proverbs 10:8 says,

“The wise in heart accept commands,

but a chattering fool comes to ruin” (Pr 10:8, NIV).

Proverbs 17:28 says:

“Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent,

and discerning if they hold their tongues.” (Pr 17:28, NIV).

Sometimes it is wise to hold one’s tongue. And, it’s always wise to seek to understand before one speaks. However, as we find in Proverbs 18:2:

“Fools find no pleasure in understanding

but delight in airing their own opinions.” (Pr 18:2, NIV).

That being said, fools are not necessarily people who are unintelligent.[60] Many of God’s creatures have attained so much knowledge about God’s creation and yet have not acknowledged the Creator.[61]

Fools are not unable to learn; they are unwilling to learn.[62]

As I’m sure teachers know, it’s hard to teach someone… when they don’t want to learn (cf. Pr 27:22).[63] And, it’s hard to give instruction when a student is always fooling around.

Many students are smart, but they underperform because they don’t follow directions; they don’t listen.

Also, people typically accept discipline and instruction from someone they think can actually teach them something;[64] Fools think they already have all the answers (cf. Pr 12:15).[65]

As we find in Proverbs 12:15:

“The way of fools seems right to them,

but the wise listen to advice.” (Pr 12:15, NIV).

Fools don’t even think godly wisdom is worth learning! Therefore, they reject godly wisdom[66] and are morally corrupt.[67] Fools don’t listen to or obey godly instruction.[68]

We read much about fools in Proverbs. We shouldn’t be surprised that many people still act like fools today – and encourage others to do the same.[69]

Now, when you buy a new product from the store, the box usually includes an important piece of paper called the instruction manual. Now a lot of people, myself included, often toss the instructions to the side.

We try to figure things out on our own.

Basically, this is what fools do to God’s instructions. They toss it to the side and try to figure things out on their own.

Instead of submitting to God’s authority, fools try to live life on their own terms.[70] This has repercussions. It’ll cost you.

Failing to Fear the LORD is Folly

Now can I be honest with you? I didn’t always seek to follow God’s instructions.

Years ago, I wanted to go my own way, and do my own thing. And this is what our culture preaches. The world says, “do what makes you happy”.

The word says, do what makes you holy. Society tells us to follow our hearts, Scripture tells us to follow our God.

When I was younger, I was a fool. But, thanks be to God, I realized that not fearing or following God is foolish.

If I want to learn how to use an iPhone, doesn’t it make sense to follow the instructions of Apple – the creator of the iPhone? If I want to learn how to play Xbox, doesn’t it make sense to follow the instructions of Microsoft – the creator of the Xbox?

If I want to learn how I should live life, doesn’t it make sense to follow the instructions of The LORD – the Creator of life?[71]

Failing to reverence the most powerful Being in the world – Who is in fact the Creator and the Sustainer of the world – is foolish.[72]

This is why fearing the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. My brothers and sisters, it doesn’t matter what college we go to, how many degrees we have, or how smart we think we are – if we do not fear the LORD, we don’t know the first thing about nothin’.[73]

Colleges Forgot to Keep First Things First

And colleges used to know this.

Did you know that Harvard University, the oldest college in the country, was originally founded to train Christian ministers?[74] So was Yale.[75] Princeton University was founded by Presbyterian ministers from Harvard and Yale.

Rutgers was affiliated with the Dutch Reformed Church.[76] Northwestern University was founded by Methodists.[77] Brown[78] and Temple University[79] were founded by Baptists.

As I’ve said before, of the 182 colleges and universities founded before 1932, 92 percent were founded by Christian denominations.[80] Colleges were first founded to train Christian ministers.

If one examines the history, you’ll find that Western education is largely a product of Christianity.[81]

Some, like Princeton University, still have the Bible on their university shield. Unfortunately, many of our schools and colleges have forgotten the first and most important principle of all knowledge – to fear the LORD.

Though Princeton got plenty of my parent’s money, it didn’t teach me much about Scripture. And there is much foolish teaching found in their religion department.

We can’t depend on worldly institutions to give our youth godly instruction. We need to do it ourselves. Ephesians 6:4 says:

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4, ESV).

Nothing Compares To Godly Wisdom

But do we put first things first? We’ll spend thousands of dollars on secular education, how much do we spend on spiritual education?

Out of all of the books in our personal library, how many are about the LORD? Out of all the movies we own, how many are about Jesus? Out of all of the shows we watch, how many of them are beneficial to our Christian walk?

Can we quote TV better than JC? Do we flip through channels more than we flip through pages? Do we know the daily headlines better than our Bible’s red lines? What do we prioritize over godly instruction?

In Proverbs, godly wisdom is personified as a woman. And, in chapter 3, starting at verse 13, it says:

“13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,

those who gain understanding,

14 for she is more profitable than silver

and yields better returns than gold.

15 She is more precious than rubies;

       nothing you desire can compare with her.” (Pr 3:13-15, NIV).

The wisdom and knowledge of God is the most valuable thing we can learn. Why spend more time, money, and effort on other things? Why should any other subject take priority?

Continuing at Proverbs 3:16,

“16 Long life is in her right hand;

in her left hand are riches and honor.

17 Her ways are pleasant ways,

and all her paths are peace.

18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;

those who hold her fast will be blessed.” (Pr 3:16-18, NIV).

Proverbs 4:6 says,

“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;

love her, and she will watch over you.” (Pr 4:6, NIV).

One of our favorites, Proverbs 3:5-6, says:

“5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

6 in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight” (Pr 3:5-6, NIV).

Proverbs 3:7-8 continues,

“7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;

fear the LORD and shun evil.

8 This will bring health to your body

and nourishment to your bones” (Pr 3:7-8, NIV).

Again, most Proverbs are not to be taken as blanket promises without exception.

But, according to God’s word, godly wisdom and the fear of the LORD are vital to one’s physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual well-being – both now and in the future.

Long-lasting Benefits, Repercussions

Over the years, my father has taught me a lot of things. He helped with science projects, he taught me how to play baseball, and he taught me how to wrestle.

Because of the instruction of my Dad and my uncles and my coaches, I was able to wrestle at a collegiate level. In college, I may have spent around 20-30 hours a week training and traveling and competing.

Then one day, after my last tournament, it was all over. I haven’t really wrestled since like 2010.

Now don’t get me wrong, wrestling is a great sport. It builds character. But like every other skill or subject in this world, it is inherently temporary.

People can spend hours and hours on athletics. But most won’t play in college and only a select few play as professionals. Most of us are done playing sports by our early 20’s.

Godly wisdom, on the other hand, is something we can practice and benefit from our entire lives!

Furthermore, as we read in 1 Timothy 4:8,

“…physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:8, NIV).

Many compete for worldly recognition and worldly bragging rights. But, many of the benefits of spiritual training are out of this world. [82]

Moreover, walking in godly wisdom not only benefits us – both now and forever – it also benefits our children. Proverbs 14:26 tells us that:

“Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” (Pr 14:26, NIV; cf. Pr 20:7).[83]

Fearing the LORD often comes with generational benefits (cf. Psalm 128).

Over the years, my father has taught me many things. But none were as important as fearing the LORD.

And he taught me both in word and deed. He didn’t just say that reverencing God was important, he showed me that it was important. As it’s been said, sometimes more is caught than taught.

My parents made sure my spiritual education was a priority. And I’m better for it. Of course they weren’t perfect; but they helped me keep first things first.

I missed a lot of wrestling practices because of Wednesday night Bible studies. I missed a lot of tournaments because of Sunday School. I missed a lot of Saturday night parties because of early service the next day.

At least in high school, that is. When I got to college, I don’t think I missed any parties. And my undergraduate foolishness has had repercussions that are still felt to this day.

You see, just like fearing the LORD can positively affect one’s family in the present and the future, not fearing the LORD can negatively affect one’s family in the present and the future.

If you break God’s house rules, there are repercussions. It’ll cost you.

When we hear the word percussion, we think of drums. If you hit a drum in an empty room, the sound will reverberate off the walls. Even after you’ve finished hitting the drum, remnants of the sound can still be heard.

Similarly, breaking God’s house rules has repercussions – reverberations. Even after a foolish deed is done, its remnants can still be felt for years and generations to come.


In conclusion, the introduction of Proverbs presents readers with a choice:[84] essentially, you can be foolish – despising and ignoring God’s instructions – or you can be wise – learning and obeying God’s instructions.

“This choice is before the reader: Will you revere Yahweh, or will you scorn knowledge? To be wise is to conduct oneself equitably in society and reverently before God; fools care nothing for this and thus are contemptible. The gauntlet is thrown down; the line is drawn in the sand—what kind of a person will you be? If a fool, then stop reading Proverbs—and this commentary—and go live your short life of folly. If a wise person, then read on and benefit.”[85]

My brothers and sisters, I encourage you to choose to be wise. The fear of the LORD is the first step to true knowledge. Respecting and obeying God is the foundation for everything else in life.

Let’s fear and love the LORD at all times; He’s always watching.

It’s foolish to toss God’s instructions aside. Foolish deeds have repercussions. You play stupid games; you win stupid prizes.

Our spiritual training is more important than any other training, because there are benefits both now and forever. And they can be felt by the generations to come.

Because God graciously saved us, we should faithfully serve Him. This is God’s world, we’re just living in it. It’s God’s house, so let’s follow God’s rules. We must respect the Homeowner.

And, I know we want to have fun, but let’s make sure we always put first things first! God bless you.


(Included in a separate video)

Friends, we have all broken God’s house rules. And, from time to time, we all stumble and continue to break God’s house rules. As we’ve said, breaking God’s house rules has repercussions.

And these repercussions can be everlasting. Disrespecting and rebelling against the Homeowner means we deserve to spend eternity apart from the Homeowner.

However, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins. Christ is the sacrificial Lamb that bore the consequences of our foolishness and rebellion.

God raised Him from the dead on the third day, a foretaste of the future resurrection of all who are faithful to our Resurrected Lord.

Jesus brought about forgiveness and a reconciled relationship between God and rebellious rulebreakers like us. He is the Only Way we can be saved from the repercussions of our foolish ways.

If we repent from our folly, and wisely choose to be faithful to Him, we will be saved. If you desire an eternity with God, I implore you to wholeheartedly surrender your life to the One who surrendered His life for you.

Please call us at 609-877-6500 or visit alphabc.org/contact-us. Choose wisdom. Choose life. It’s God’s house; it’s God’s rules. Don’t delay; always put first things first.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s ask ourselves something: Are there things in our lives that we prioritize over God?

Let’s ask the LORD to remove these idols from our lives, so that we may wholeheartedly surrender to Him. Let’s keep first things first.

May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD turn His face toward you and give you peace (Num 6:24-26). In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

Bibliography & Footnotes

  • Atkinson, David. The Message of Proverbs: Wisdom for Life. Edited by J. A. Motyer, John Stott, and Derek Tidball. The Bible Speaks Today. England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996.
  • Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977. [BDB]
  • Futato, Mark D., and George M. Schwab. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 7: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Proverbs. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009.
  • Garrett, Duane A. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Vol. 14. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993.
  • Goldingay, John E. “Proverbs.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, and G. J. Wenham, 4th ed., 584–608. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.
  • Guthrie, Donald. Pastoral Epistles: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 14. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990.
  • Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999. [TWOT]
  • Kidner, Derek. Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 17. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1964.
  • Koptak, Paul E. Proverbs. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.
  • Longman, Tremper, III. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.
  • Longman, Tremper. “Proverbs” in Walton, John H. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Vol. 5. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.
  • Matthews, Victor Harold, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament. Electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
  • Murphy, Rowland E. Proverbs. Vol. 22. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Thomas Nelson, 1998.
  • Murphy, Roland E., and O. Carm. “Proverbs.” In Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, edited by W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.
  • Osborne, Grant R., and M. Robert Mulholland Jr. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: James, 1–2 Peter, Jude, Revelation. Edited by Philip W. Comfort. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011.
  • Reyburn, William David, and Euan McG. Fry. A Handbook on Proverbs. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 2000. [UBS]
  • Ross, Allen P. “Proverbs.” In The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition), edited by Tremper Longman III, Garland David E., Vol. 6. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008.
  • Schultz, Richard L. “Proverbs” in Burge, Gary M., and Andrew E. Hill, eds. The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012.
  • VanGemeren, Willem, ed. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997. [NIDOTTE]
  • Waltke, Bruce K. The Book of Proverbs, Chapters 1–15. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2004.
  • Wilson, Lindsay. Proverbs: An Introduction and Commentary. Edited by David G. Firth. Vol. 17. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 2017.

[1] Merriam Webster, “First Things First”, Merriam-Webster.com, accessed February 10, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/first%20things%20first.

[2] Cambridge Dictionary, “First Things First”, Dictionary.Cambridge.org, accessed February 10, 2020, https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/first-things-first.

[3] “In the Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach) wisdom means to live in God’s world by his rules, with two foci, its practical orientation (embracing every area of life and conduct) and its dependence on God (reverence and submission to his dictates).” Osborne, 25.

[4] “The book of Proverbs is designed to help its readers experience wise discipline, the theory and practice of proper living.” Schultz, 541.

[5] UBS, 28-31; cf. Ex 3:6, 19; Dt 5:5; Murphy, 5; Kidner, 56; Wilson, 61; Schultz, 541; Murphy and Carm, 18; Atkinson, 28; Longman, 100. “It stands in front of the rest of the collection as the quintessential expression of the basic spiritual grammar for understanding the book.” Waltke, 180.

[6]“‘Discipline’ (NIV “instruction”) designates the process of learning to live consistently according to wisdom principles through training, modeling, and correction.” Schultz, 541. Cf. “discipline” TWOT, 386;BDB, 416; DCH, 177; cf. “training” HALOT, 557. “Discipline or ‘instruction’ (the same word in v 8) reminds us that wisdom is not acquired cheaply or painlessly; it involves submission (cf. [Pr 3:11; 6:23; 13:1, 24]). Thus ‘rebuke’ or ‘reproof’ ([Pr 1:23, 25, 30]) often accompanies discipline or ‘instruction’ (see [Pr 3:11; 5:12; 6:23; 10:17]).”

Goldingay, 586.

[7] Murphy, 254; Wilson, 61; Schultz, 541; Goldingay, 587; Koptak, 57; cf. Longman, 100

[8] Murphy, 254; Goldingay, 587; Koptak, 57; cf. Longman, 100

[9] TWOT, 401; UBS, 28-31; Kidner, 56; cf. Sir 1:14; Murphy, 5; cf. Koptak, 62; Longman, 102; Allen, 50. “Numerous passages relate this fear of God to piety and righteous living: it motivates faithful living (Jer 32:40). Fear of God results in caring for strangers (Gen 20:11). Just rule is rule in the fear of God (II Sam 23:3). Fear of the Almighty does not withhold kindness from friends (Job 6:14). Economic abuses against fellow Jews were contrary to the fear of God (Neh 5:9).” TWOT, 401.

[10] Murphy, 255

[11] Murphy, 255

[12] Murphy, 257

[13] UBS, 28-31; Wilson, 61; Schultz, 541; Goldingay, 587. But see Dt 1:29; Jonah 1:10; Allen, 50.

[14] Koptak, 70; Longman, 101; cf. 1 Ki 3:28; Allen, 50.

[15] UBS, 28-31; Wilson, 61

[16] Atkinson, 28; cf. TWOT, 401; Goldingay, 587; “To fear the Lord is not to cower in terror before an unknowable deity; rather, it entails a life lived in constant awareness of one’s dependence on and obligation toward the sovereign Creator. This expression distinguishes biblical wisdom from all other types of human learning.” Schultz, 541. Cf. Lev 19:3; Allen, 50.

[17] Wilson, 61

[18] TWOT, 401

[19] Allen, 50.

[20] NIDOTTE, 531; TWOT, 401; cf. Murphy, 256; Schultz, 541; Koptak, 62; Longman, 100

[21] NIDOTTE, 531; cf. TWOT, 401; BDB, 432; Schultz, 541; Koptak, 62; Longman, 100; Allen, 50.

[22] TWOT, 401; BDB, 432; Murphy, 257; Longman, 100

[23] NIDOTTE, 531; Longman, 100

[24] NIDOTTE, 531; Longman, 100

[25] NIDOTTE, 531; Murphy, 257; Koptak, 62; Longman, 100

[26] NIDOTTE, 531; TWOT, 401; cf. Murphy, 257; Koptak, 62; Longman, 100

[27] Koptak, 66. “Yet fear of Yahweh is precisely about turning from rebellion to teachability before God. Good feeling comes by embracing all of reality, including our need to submit to authority greater than our own. The life of wisdom is not just good sense or a list of principles for a happy life (true as this may be); it is above all an attitude toward God that influences all of our decisions and actions. This attitude does not take away our privilege and responsibility to make choices and plans; it sets them in the light of God’s claim on the world he made, as well as on our lives.

We often shy away from phrases like “the fear of the LORD” because we want to say that God is loving, like a father looking down the road for his lost son, or tender, like a mother nurturing her children. We are afraid that speaking of God’s mighty reign and claim on our lives will be alienating, not attractive. Yet our enjoyment of that love takes on new meaning when we come to know the One who loves us in the way he wants to be known. As we will see, the fear of Yahweh goes hand and hand with the knowledge of God ([Pr 1:7; 2:5]).” Koptak, 66


[28] Murphy, 255. “Our common distinction between fear and love is obviously not applicable to this mentality; “fear of the Lord” also includes love.” Murphy, 255.

[29] “We often shy away from phrases like “the fear of the LORD” because we want to say that God is loving, like a father looking down the road for his lost son, or tender, like a mother nurturing her children. We are afraid that speaking of God’s mighty reign and claim on our lives will be alienating, not attractive. Yet our enjoyment of that love takes on new meaning when we come to know the One who loves us in the way he wants to be known”. Koptak, 66.

[30] Illustration from Dr. Tony Evans Kingdom Man Bible Study Week Four video. Watched on February 8, 2020.

[31] Kidner, 56; Longman, 101

[32] Kidner, 56.

[33] Kidner, 56

[34] Goldingay, 586; cf. Koptak, 66; Longman, 100, 101. “Fear of Yahweh is foundational to knowledge, which here functions as a close synonym to wisdom. In this way, the book acknowledges the radically relational and theocentric nature of knowledge/wisdom.” Longman, 100

[35] Longman, 101

[36] Cf. Goldingay, 587

[37] Koptak, 66

[38] Koptak, 66.

[39] “The book of Proverbs is not about developing moral character as an end in itself. It is about the character-forming work of the fear of God, the basic disposition that returns us again and again to humble teachability and neighbor love.” Koptak, 70.

[40] Longman, 104. Primarily meaning the first in order as the word is used in Pr 9:10; Murphy, 5. “This is the essential outlook of the Wisdom school.” UBS, 28-31.

[41] Kidner, 56; cf. Atkinson, 28. “…the temporally first step in this case is not on a horizontal axis that can be left behind but on a vertical axis on which all else rests.” Waltke, 181

[42] Goldingay, 586

[43] NIDOTTE, 531; Koptak, 61; Longman, ZIBBC, 471; Koptak, 69

[44] UBS, 28-31; Wilson, 61; Schultz, 541; Goldingay, 587; Garrett, 68; Waltke, 180

[45] Murphy, 5; “The second meaning ranks the fear of the LORD as just another wisdom teaching and allows that wisdom can be had apart from it. That notion hardly fits this context, which is not concerned as yet to state the specific content of wisdom but to prepare the way for it.” Waltke, 181

Waltke, 180

[46] Wilson, 61; cf. Koptak, 62

[47] Murphy, 5; Waltke, 181

[48] TWOT, 289

[49] Wilson, 61; cf. Waltke, 181

[50] BDB, 321

[51] Murphy, 5

[52] Waltke, 181

[53] Waltke, 181

[54] Waltke, 181

[55] Goldingay, 587

[56] UBS, 28-31; Wilson, 62; Schultz, 541; Murphy and Carm, 18; Koptak, 62

[57] UBS, 28-31; Waltke, 181; Allen, 51

[58] TWOT, 95

[59] NIDOTTE, 307; cf. UBS, 28-31; TWOT, 19; Goldingay, 586

[60] Longman, 101; Wilson, 62. “Indeed, in ancient as well as modern times, some of the brightest people are either indifferent or even hostile toward God.” Longman, 101.

[61] “True knowledge begins with an acknowledgment that everything is created and sustained by God and that he is the one who imparts knowledge not only through revelation but also through experience, observation, and reason.” Longman, 101.

[62] NIDOTTE, 307; cf. Pr 27:22; Goldingay, 586; Koptak, 62

[63] BDB, 17; TWOT, 19; Longman, 102. “The term ʾewîlîm (“fools”; GK 211) describes those who are thick-brained, conceited, and stubborn (Greenstone, 6). They lack understanding (10:21), do not store up knowledge (10:14), fail to attain wisdom (24:7), talk loosely (14:3), are filled with pride (26:5), and are contentious (20:3). They are morally unskilled and refuse any correction (15:15; 27:22).” Allen, 51.

[64] “To submit to instruction is to acknowledge an authority higher than the fool’s own. Therefore the fool, wishing to be his own authority, does not know whom he should fear.” Koptak, 69

[65] NIDOTTE, 307; TWOT, 19; Goldingay, 586

[66] Wilson, 62; Koptak, 62

[67] TWOT, 19

[68] Murphy and Carm, 18; cf. Schwab, 474

[69] Garrett, 68

[70] Koptak, 69.

[71] “One properly fears Yahweh because he is the most powerful being in the universe. Only fools would not be afraid of a being who has the power of life and death over them. Such persons do not understand their place in the cosmos and thus do not know how to act in the world. All other wisdom builds on this point, and there is no wisdom without it.” Longman, 104

[72] “One properly fears Yahweh because he is the most powerful being in the universe. Only fools would not be afraid of a being who has the power of life and death over them. Such persons do not understand their place in the cosmos and thus do not know how to act in the world. All other wisdom builds on this point, and there is no wisdom without it.” Longman, 104.

[73] “As a beginning, this statement claims that there is no knowledge apart from a proper attitude and relationship to Yahweh.” Longman, 100

[74]Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World (p. 190). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[75] https://guides.library.yale.edu/yalehistory. Cf. Schmidt, 190.

[76] https://www.rutgers.edu/about/history.

[77] Schmidt, 190.

[78] Schmidt, 190 cf. https://blogs.brown.edu/libnews/founding-of-brown-university/

[79] https://www.temple.edu/about/history-traditions/russell-conwell

[80] “Nor are most Americans aware that in 1932, when Donald Tewksbury published The Founding of American Colleges and Universities Before the Civil War, 92 percent of the 182 colleges and universities were founded by Christian denominations.” Schmidt, 190.

[81] “Catechetical schools, cathedral schools, episcopal schools, monasteries, medieval universities, schools for the blind and deaf, Sunday schools, modern grade schools, secondary schools, modern colleges, universities, and universal education all have one thing in common: they are the products of Christianity.” Schmidt, 190.

[82] “Irrespective of his present earthly circumstances, the Christian may fairly be said to have the best of both worlds.(Guthrie, 109)

[83] “God saves families (cf. Gen. 7:1; 18:19; Exod. 20:6, 7; Ps. 103:17; Acts 16:31). A life committed to God reaches beyond its own existence.(Waltke, 603)

[84] Schwab, 474; Wilson, 62; cf. Garrett, 68. “Fear of Yahweh also speaks to the intended readers of the book of Proverbs. The book is written not for a general audience but for a particular people—those who fear the Lord. Anyone can join this community, but the prologue clearly creates insiders and outsiders. Outsiders may learn also, but they may not remain outside the learning community for long. The prologue invites its readers to read on and decide.” Koptak, 63

[85] Schwab, 475

About @DannyScottonJr 455 Articles
Imperfect Servant ✝?⛪ | Husband | Princeton U. Alum | M. Div. | Assistant (to the) Pastor | Sound Doctrine & Apologetics @catchforchrist