knowledge

Proverbs 18:1-12

Today’s reading is Proverbs 18:1-12.

Within in each of us there is a feeling that we “get” some things. Most of us will admit that there are areas where we know very little or not enough to have an informed opinion. On many things, however, we are very confident that we are right and know the truth. But, has your mind ever changed about something you once thought you knew? Have you ever said something with great boldness, only to have to take it back later when more information came to light?

Here in Proverbs 18:2 we are warned about this kind of thing. The first part of the verse says, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding....” Remember that in Proverbs the “fool” is not a stupid person; rather, a fool is someone who has rejected God and, as a result, has embraced a wicked way of life. Because wickedness is deceptive, fools make bad choices and suffer painful consequences. The warnings Proverbs gives us about fools is designed to protect us from the self-confidence that thinks we can reason or intuit our way to truth. So when Proverbs 18:2a says, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding....” we are to learn that those who have rejected God are not really on a quest for truth. They think they know what is good and bad, right and wrong, wise and unwise. So if you see a fool doing something foolish or saying something foolish and try to instruct him, you will get nowhere. The reason is that they “find no pleasure in understanding.” They don’t want to know the truth because that would require humility. A humble person is a teachable person. He knows that he doesn’t know it all, is susceptible to error, and could learn a thing (or thirty) from someone who is wise, someone who is knowledgable and skillful in areas where the teachable man is ignorant. Fools are too proud to admit that they need help, need knowledge, so they have no real interest in understanding.

Instead of trying to understand a thing, verse 2 tells us that fools “delight in airing their own opinions.” They speak self-confidently about areas where they are ignorant and know nothing. I’ve found that, the more confident a person sounds, the more suspicious I should be about trusting that person’s opinions. Plenty of people bloviate about things they no nothing about. The Bible says this is a characteristic of a fool. He doesn’t really want to understand something; he wants you to understand how great or smart or wise he is. That’s his objective which is why he speaks the way that he does.

Do you have a teachable spirit? When you speak beyond what you really know (which many of us do, myself included), do you have the humility to be corrected by someone who knows better? Most importantly--are you willing to allow Scripture and godly counselors to help you understand things you think you know? In other words, are you humble enough to be corrected when the teaching of God’s word confronts what you believe, or want to believe? Fools are self-confident; they love to tell anyone who will listen what they think. As a result of their self-confidence, they will be led astray. Choose the wisdom of humility. Learn to crave understanding. Don’t be afraid of being exposed as ignorant--everyone is ignorant in many areas. Instead, let the realization of your ignorance become the gateway to understanding by humbling yourself to accept truth and knowledge. This is a wise way to live and will lead you to a life that glorifies God.

2 Chronicles 7, 2 John, Habakkuk 2, Luke 21

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Chronicles 7, 2 John, Habakkuk 2, Luke 21. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Habakkuk 2.

We have read so many prophesies about the judgment and destruction the Lord promises to visit on Israel and all the nations of the world that forsake him. We understand that the purpose of this destruction is justice--to punish all those who have defied the Lord and who are disobedient to him. But as important as God’s justice is, there is a greater reason for the coming judgment. After talking about the ultimate futility of all the hard work people do for the kingdoms of this world that will be destroyed, verse 14 said, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Think of how deep the chasms in our oceans are and how vast the oceans are in width. Yet the waters cover those chasms completely. This is the image the Lord chose for how the knowledge of him will some day fill the earth completely. The destruction of earthly kingdoms and the punishment of all unredeemed sinners not only satisfies God’s justice, it removes all the barriers to the full Christianization of the earth. God judges the nations to make room for his kingdom where everyone will know him, the only true God. The only way to experience this amazing promise is described in verse 4, “...the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

Joshua 8, Psalm 139, Jeremiah 2, Matthew 16

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Joshua 8, Psalm 139, Jeremiah 2, Matthew 16. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Psalm 139.

This song is a very personal meditation by David. It is personal in the sense that David considers how deeply personal God’s knowledge of him is. Plenty of people in the world believe in God but the “god” they believe in is impersonal, detached, abstract. They believe in a free-floating spirit, a concept like karma, a deistic deity who may have started the world but is more or less uninterested in humanity. And, to the extent that God is interested in humanity, it is the powerful or the abundantly evil, they think, that he cares about.

There is also in our day a differing view of God, one that is hyper-personal. This view believes that God exists to serve me; he is the divine butler that brings about my every wish, my every intention, if I just reach out and ask him for stuff. Both of these visions of God are completely distorted. Yes, God is transcendent, powerful, spiritual but he is also personal. David sang about God’s personal traits when he described in verses 1-6 that God has “searched… and known” him (v. 1). Verses 2-4 detailed this knowledge that God has of David. It includes David’s physical movements (v. 2a), his thoughts (v. 2b), his habits (v. 3), and his word (v. 4). Not only does God know all of this but his presence is always as close as a person who can touch you is (v. 5). In verse 6, David is overwhelmed emotionally with how perfectly God knows him and keeps tabs on him. In verses 7-12 David detailed how impossible it was to escape God, even if he wanted to do so. Not even the darkest night, the blackest cave, can veil David’s being from being known perfectly and personally by God. Verses 13-16 said that this is true because God created him and thus knew him when he was invisible to everyone in his mother’s womb. Again David is submerged in wonder as he considers how carefully God watches and thinks about him.

Although David was a key figure in the history of God’s people, there is nothing that is sung in this Psalm that is unique to him. There are over 7 billion people on earth right now and billions more who lived and died before now, yet God knows them all as intimately as he knew David. God is close enough to all of them to be touched if it were possible for a human to touch the living God (Acts 17:27-28). This song ends with David asking God to act on what he knows about all people. First, he wished that God would rid the earth of the wicked (vv. 19-20), affirming that he personally hated the Lord’s enemies (v. 21). And yet he understands that he himself is not perfect before God, so he asks God to search his heart, test his faith, purge the wickedness from within him, and continue to lead him in righteousness by faith (vv. 23-24). This is a fitting prayer for everyone who understands the holiness of God, his personal knowledge of us, and our own depravity. We don’t even understand the depth of our desire for wickedness, so it takes tremendous courage and faith to ask God to root the evil ways out of us. God’s methods for making us holy are not delicate and delightful. Becoming like God is painful; it requires being honest with God and ourselves, seeking and finding true repentance, and pleading for the grace of God in our lives. But, when God has completed his work, we will be satisfied with the transformation he has accomplished in us and he will be glorified.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.

Deuteronomy 5, Psalm 88, Isaiah 33, Revelation 3

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Deuteronomy 5, Psalm 88, Isaiah 33, Revelation 3. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Isaiah 33.

Our society has changed dramatically in the past few years. Actions that were once were considered immoral are now considered acceptable. In some cases things that were illegal are not only legal now but receive special legal protection. Those who are advocating and legalizing these changes do so with much self-righteousness under the guise of civil rights, creating a lot of pressure on the rest of society to celebrate these changes, or conform to them or, at the very least, remain quiet about them. If you have ever wondered why so many people have suddenly lost their minds, Isaiah 33:5-6 provides the answer. Verse 5 describes God’s exalted state and how his kingdom (“Zion”) will be filled “with his justice and righteousness.” But this world is not yet his kingdom; until Christ returns and establishes his kingdom, every human government will become unjust and every society will practice increasing unrighteousness. Why? Verse 6 says, “He will be the sure foundation for your times….” When people believe in God and bow to his definition of “righteousness,” they have this sure foundation on which to test right and wrong. Without faith in God, no sure foundation exists; instead, ideas of righteousness and justice will be (re)defined by the perverse and ever degrading notions of humanity. But verse 6 of our passage continues by saying that the Lord will be “a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.” As believers who fear the Lord, we can be certain of what we know because it has been revealed to us by someone who knows all things. This is stated in the final line of our passage for today, Isaiah 33:6: “…the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.” "Fearing the Lord” means so much in the Old Testament. It means reverencing God in worship, of course, but it also means having a deep understanding of his greatness and awesomeness and how undeserving we are of anything from him. Fearing God causes us to reverence what he has revealed in his word and that leads to repentance and faith. But fearing God and receiving his word also means accepting what his word says about the origin of all things, the end of all things, why some things are wrong, why we need salvation, etc. Yes, it is true that unbelievers know many things that we believers do not and that believers do not know everything. But if you dig a little bit beneath the surface of an unbeliever’s knowledge, you will find assumptions rather than certainty. This is why right and wrong, which should be obvious to anyone, eventually become questioned and then denied in godless societies. When someone cuts himself off from God he will have no foundation to know anything. That means that anything could be true which causes people to believe in foolishness (see Romans 1:21, 28).

There is much more to say about this than I can write in this devotional. For a taste of more, check out this brief video by Sye Ten Bruggencate: 

 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.