Character of God

Proverbs 9:10 – read   (“…fear of the Lord…knowledge of the Holy One…”) 

Hebrew poetry does not rhyme the sound of words, it rhymes the thought.  It says something, then, wants to make sure you understand it and it just changes the words.

What words does the Holy Spirit through Solomon use to rhyme the meanings:

Fear = knowledge

Wisdom = understanding

BUT When Solomon wants to take a word that describes God – when he wants to take a word that replaces the word Lord, what word does he use?  The wisest man to ever exist, and inspired by the Holy Spirit to write, chose – HOLY

(The word “One” in this verse in Prov. 9:10, if correctly shown in your Bible is italicized, which means that it was not in the original text – so the verse more accurately says, against the “Holy” of Israel, and this more emphatically illustrates the true being of God – His utter essence – HOLY!)

Let us allow the Bible to describe to us how God reveals Himself:

Lev 22:32: “You shall not profane my Holy name, but I will be hallowed (which means treated as holy) among the children of Israel.  I am the Lord who sanctifies you.”

Joshua 24:15-25 (especially v. 19) But Joshua said to the people, vs. 19 “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a Holy God.  He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions or sins.”

1 Samuel 2:2 “No one is Holy like our Lord, for there is none beside You, Nor is there any rock like our God.”

1 Chronicles 15:28-16:2, 16:7-12 (especially v. 10), “Glory in His Holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord.”

1 Chronicles 29:16, “O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your Holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own.”

Psalm 22:1-3, “But You are Holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” 

David was in a life full of despair and difficulties, but his strength and hope was never shaken because he knew God’s character.  He expresses this again in Psa. 33:21 following.

Psalm 33:18-22(especially v. 21), “For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His Holy name.”

Psalm 89:5-7, “And the heavens shall praise your wonders, O LORD: your faithfulness also in the counsel of the holy ones. For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD?  Who among the sons of Yahweh can be likened unto the Yahweh?  God is greatly to be feared in the counsel of the holy ones, and to be held in reverence (respected as Holy) by all those around him.”

Psalm 99:1-5, 9 “Exalt the Lord our God & worship at his footstool; He is holy.”

Exod. 3:1-6 (especially v. 5), “Then He said, ‘Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’”

Lev. 10:1-3, “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them.  In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded.  So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.  Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord meant when he said, ‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me.  I will display my glory before all the people.’  And Aaron was silent.”

Absorb the scene: Job chapter 38; then 40:1-5

Isaiah 6:1-5 (Isaiah when he saw a vision of the glory of God.)

Rev. 1:10-18 (John seeing the risen and glorified Jesus Christ.)

Over and over again His description is Holy – never once is the description love.  Faithful, Merciful, Just and others, but overwhelmingly predominant is HOLY.

  • 31 times in the book of Isaiah alone God calls Himself the “Holy One of Israel.”  That is one of His favorite names.
  • In the book of Leviticus uses 87 times the word Holy.

Every single time in scripture when God touches a place, a person, a thing, a day, a utensil, a garment – no matter what it is – He always – without a single exception, He prefixes it with the word Holy.

* You can put the word holy in front of every single attribute He has, but you cannot do that with love.

– If you start with thinking His essence is love many things will not make sense:

  • Faithfulness – it is a loving faithfulness
  • Love – it is a loving love – it does not make sense
  • Wrath – it is a loving wrath – that is impossible

– However, the Bible will start to make sense if you understand His essence is Holy:

  • Faithfulness – it is a Holy faithfulness
  • Love – it is a Holy love
  • Wrath – it is a Holy wrath

** The thing that has convinced me above all others that God is a God of holiness first and foremost, and not to simply describe Him as love – an irrefutable proclamation from God Himself of Himself – is the name He has chosen for Himself – Holy Spirit!!

  • The Spirit is not only the very essence of God – He is God Himself.  If He is the nature of God and the essence of God, and Being of God – God Himself – why is He never one time called “the Loving Spirit,” or “the Spirit of Love?”

Who is He – He is the Holy Spirit!!  Why, because God is Holy!

** When God chooses to swear by whom He is, what does He say, Psa. 89:35, “…sworn by My holiness.”  The most emphatic and descriptive thing He can say.

** We can never properly understand the Christian faith until we understand that God is holy.  That’s why He has wrath, and that is why we are under His wrath, because He is Holy, and we are sinful.  And that is why the cross of Jesus Christ was so necessary (holiness requires perfection, and Christ was perfect, and on the cross Christ was made sin for us and the Father could not look at Him upon the cross because His holiness is pure and He had to have a pure sacrifice to take the place of us and all of our sins). 

** Then once our sin has been removed from us through faith in Christ à then we can fully and richly experience His pure, righteous, holy love.

Someone may say to me that I have this all wrong and that people need to hear about the Love of God.  And I so agree, but it is the LOVE of GOD and not the LOVE of LOVE that they need to hear about.  It is the almighty God of the universe who loves me, not some sentimental love.  The Creator of this universe, the God who spoke…and it was, the Giver of the 10 commandments – the Ruler of all the heavens and earth – it is that God who loved me, and He loved me so much that He punished my sins on His only begotten Son.

You see, when we begin to see more clearly how God is Holy in the essence of His character, and then we read “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” it now has even more of a powerful and beautiful meaning.

  • It is so important that we understand who God is, and preach His holiness and wrath correctly, so that when we proclaim the love of God to people it will represent truth, and what is truth – Jesus Christ.


See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:



For a more in-depth study see the related full “Study Series”:

Study Series 1 The Character of God – Holy