The Bible seems to contradict itself repeatedly, like these two verses:
Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.(Ecclesiastes 12:12.)
… let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance … (Proverbs 1:5.)
Which is it: be smart and get smarter, or stop learning so much because too much smartification will just wear you out? Whichever it is, this kid is smartifying early:
Just as synonyms are – by definition – not contradictory, neither are Bible passages. The key to understanding synonyms is knowing what the words mean and how they are used, and the key to understanding Bible passages is knowing the context and what the writer meant.
One Writer, One Point
Both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are attributed to Solomon.* You would think that he would be able to write without contradicting himself.
The introduction to Proverbs speaks of the value of learning for the wise, and then explains:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7.)
Similarly, Ecclesiastes concludes with this observation:
Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.)
This idea of fearing God has a couple of components. One is a healthy fear of what life is like without God. The other is a reverential, grateful and joy-filled relationship with our awesome God. After all, the root of the word “awesome” is “awe” and derives from the Old English word for fear (ege) which in turn came from the Greek word for pain and grief (akhis).
Awe is nothing to take lightly, but it does help one understand fear. It means that fear is not necessarily a matter of being scared. Sometimes fear is a sense of being truly in awe of something or someone.
This is what Solomon’s writings get at. We should understand God sufficiently to be in awe of him. God gave you brains for a reason, after all, and in using those brains you can see that God’s awesome. His love is awesome, his grace is awesome, his blessings are awesome, his power is awesome. He just keeps being awesome, eternally awesome.
To get back to the issue of learning, here’s what you should do. Keep learning about things that help you see how awesome God is. Creation declares his glory so everything he has created is worth studying.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2.)
Now that’s awesome.
*Most of Proverbs is attributed to Solomon, although the first few verses might be an introduction supplied by the compiler of the proverbs of Solomon. As for Ecclesiastes, while Solomon is not specifically identified he’s considered the most likely author.