Proverbs 2:1-8 (NLT) 1 My child, listen to what I say,
and treasure my commands.
2 Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
3 Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
4 Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
8 He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to him.
If I were to pray this scripture, it would look something like this:
Lord, help me to tune my ears to wisdom and to concentrate on understanding. I cry out to You for insight and understanding. Help me to search for Your wisdom as for silver and hidden treasures. May I learn to fear the Lord so that I may gain knowledge of God. Lord, You grant wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and commonsense. May I learn from You so that I may be a person of integrity, fairness and ever faithful to You. Amen
In this day and age, concentration and focus are often very hard to cultivate. We are so used to constant, immediate, lightening fast bites of time that we are not developing the habits of contemplation, study, prayer, meditation, silence. Even cartoons are like cartoons on speed! They talk fast, they move fast, they are loud and everchanging. Our senses are often overstimulated and we are used to it. The last time I was in much of a crowd was at a baseball game. By the time we got parked, walked, stopped at a bar for a rest before they opened the gates, I was already getting tired. I thought it would be nice to sit down and recoup while we waited for the gates to open. Well, this place wasn't the quiet, still place to rest I was hoping for. Loud, music blaring so that you had to yell at your partner to be heard. TV's on every wall with sports and news. Crowds, smells, sounds, sights all bombarding you in everchanging arrays. It was exhausting sitting there so we left. Then we get into the baseball stadium and there are ads everywhere you look. Huge jumbotrons, contests, food/drink, loud music, and constant noise with no break. And that's before the game even started. You couldn't listen to a single song in that barrage of loud music because they would only play a few bars and switch to shouting, then to another few bars of another song and then announcements and more and more and more. It made me realize how this overstimulization is effecting our population.
If we aren't bombarded with constant change, we get bored. We are used to life in the fast and furious and people aren't able to hold a thought for longer than a few seconds and it's on to the next. It's no wonder we have flat thinkers who cannot develop a thought to a conclusion. And it's dangerous to have so many adults who are such flat thinkers. We can't hold their attention more than 30 seconds at a time which means sound bites have to catch their attention but then their attention is gone again. All they are getting is the sound bite, the headline, the news flash. It goes no deeper than that. And their opinions (and votes) are based on a few seconds or minutes where they heard something. They haven't followed through in deep thought about it or in intelligent conversation that is actually give and take (a learning and thoughtful conversation rather than a yelling match where winner takes all).
I take this Proverbs 2 section as a reminder that we need to seek wisdom. Again, it's not just knowledge and facts, although those play a part. But it's seeking to understand how knowledge and facts shape our world.
We learned that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492. (Now, we know that he probably wasn't the first to discover the Americas but he was the last of the explorers to discover it and it stuck. I.e. other explorers followed him and America was never "lost" again. LOL!)
It was a world changing discovery because the Americas were never lost again. More and more Europeans (and other nations) came and colonized, etc. I am here today because Columbus discovered America for the last time and it was never lost to the rest of the world again. Therefore it was a momentous occasion.
But, today, students are taught that Columbus ruined the Americas singlehandedly by taking back the route to America where others could follow. They are taught Europeans were monstrous conquerors and deliberately brought diseases from Europe that killed most of the native population.
Therefore, students come out of school not marveling at how Columbus discovered America and changed the world ever after, but at Columbus, the monster, who brought disease and the death of civilizations that had never been tainted with disease or death before Europeans showed up. The current fad is to hate Columbus.
That's flat thinking. Indepth study and thought would show us it was much more complicated than that. There are many layers to history and we shouldn't ignore them. But flat thinkers do. They take away a 1 minute sound bite of information and base all their opinions on it. And, most of the time, their pride will not allow them to be wrong so they stick to their story regardless of what other facts come out. They don't want to learn anything different as they will feel foolish. But, none of us come into this world knowing everything and it shows a wise person who learns and adjusts to the facts and admits when they were wrong or ill-informed.
I won't go into why Columbus discovering America is not all good and not all bad. That's another subject. A lot of bad things happened and there were a lot of bad people, but a lot of good things happened and a lot of good people tried to do good things. It's up to you to study and see the layers and complications that are documented for all of us to learn about. But it will take opening your mind to both the good and the bad; taking time to study it, learn about it, think about it and place yourself in that time period to see if you would have done any different. But let's get back to our subject of seeking wisdom.
Seeking wisdom takes time and energy. We have to choose to set aside time. We have to make the effort to learn. We have to plan around it. We have to set some goals. We have to have time to think about it. We have to marshall the supplies we need to learn what we want to learn, preparation. We have to research a little. And that's if you just want to learn how to play tennis or how to refinish furniture!
My niece just refinished her dining room chairs and the table is next. She researched a little beforehand with Pinterest. Then she asked other people's opinion on Facebook. Next she went to a home improvement store and got the supplies. Then she planned the time it would be best to do it so that she was uninterrupted. She ate good and had her coffee, took the kids to school and came back home and moved the chairs into the garage on a painter's cloth and began. The result was very pretty. But then it interested her in doing other pieces. I told her she could take pieces of wood and try different techniques on it and document the results. Take a picture, make comments, save in digital file folders and make a digital record of her experiments until she has a digital portfolio of things she likes and can do. Continue to research on Pinterest and other DIY venues. Make lists of techniques you want to try. Shop for pieces of furniture that you can afford and then bring them home and do one of your makeovers to it and see if it sells or give it as gifts to family and friends. Yada yada yada.
Can you see where I'm going? People do this all the time with what interests them. They may be interested in recipes, baking, camping, NASCAR races, football, fantasy football, knitting, singing, fixing cars, brewing your own beer, playing video games, etc. If you can do that for something you are interested in, you are becoming less of a flat thinker and more of a reasoning, logical, indepth thinker on that subject. I have a 10 year old grandnephew who can talk your ear off about Fortnight (video game). He knows all there is to know about a video game. He used to be that concentrated on cars. I could point out any car on the road and he could tell me what it was at 5 years old! He collected little matchbox cars and studied them to know the difference between a Mustang and a Continental. Now, video games don't interest me and neither do cars. But ask me about history or genealogy and I can talk your ears off about that while everyone else's eyes glaze over and they fall asleep on me.
Now, let's turn this all back to today's scripture. These verses are specifically pointing to God's wisdom. Not just learning and knowledge but God's wisdom about what we learn.
There are some action words here for us:
- tune in
- cry out
- ask for
Exodus 14:3-4 (NLT) 3 For Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, ‘They are wandering the land in confusion; the wilderness has boxed them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he will pursue them. But I will gain honor by means of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.”
The Israelites saw the army coming and knew death awaited with any survivors going back to Egypt to a harsher and harder slavery than before. God told Moses to get them ready to cross. There were no boats about, no bridges. It looked impossible.
Exodus 14:10-14 (NLT) 10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw the Egyptians marching after them, and they were terrified and cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us into the wilderness to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Did we not say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for u to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
13 But Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the LORD’s salvation, which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Then God did the impossible.
Exodus 14:19-22 (NLT) 19 And the Angel of God, who had gone before the camp of Israel, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 so that it came between the camps of Egypt and Israel. The cloud was there in the darkness, but it lit up the night. So all night long neither camp went near the other.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove back the sea with a strong east wind that turned it into dry land. So the waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on their right and on their left.
The people were there on the shore with the Egyptian army bearing down on them. They had no where to go, boxed in. God had deliberately led them into a trap. But God revealed He was capable of the impossible and He provided a way and they walked across the Red Sea on dry ground.
What does that have to do with wanting wisdom? Because you will tend to think learning the Bible, and about God, is impossible. You will think you can't do it. You are correct, you cannot. But the Holy Spirit in you can! You do have to walk to that shore and stand there and ask God to help you learn His wisdom. Then watch the impossible happen and take a step into that dry seabed. God had done the miracle but the Israelites still had to walk across the dry seabed to get to the other side. God will give you the desire, the mind/intelligence, the ability and resources but you must walk therein. It does require a desire on your part and the doing on your part. What He provides, you walk therein and see what happens!
We are precious to God and He wants to be precious to you. Is He precious to you? Is His Word and His Wisdom precious to you? Are you ready to seek His Wisdom and learn from His Word? Be honest. If you still don't really care, then say a prayer like the one I wrote at the top of this post and ask for the desire for God's wisdom. It's a simple prayer and won't take 2 minutes to pray it. If you sincerely want the desire, pray that prayer. Believe me, it is God's Will you desire Him and seek Him and know Him. If it's your desire, and God's desire, the impossible will happen. A miracle!
John 16:13 (Jesus speaking) "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come".
Take a step and suddenly you will realize something makes sense to you. Take another step and walk therein. Take advantage of what God opens up to you. Going to church will no longer be a chore or duty, but you are learning deep things of God. Sunday school is no longer a friendship get together but you learn something. The songs you sing in worship take on meaning rather just rote repeating. New classes will open up either in your church, or another, and you take advantage of them and learn more. The more you learn, the hungrier you get. Before you know it the Bible isn't dusty any more. Your Bible is showing signs of wear and tear. You have to find a box to store the notebooks, workbooks and devotionals you've scrawled in to store them all. You need a new ink pen and why not a highlighter too. You begin to put Bible study and church on your planner so you plan around them. Your conversation is peppered with things you've learned or God has shown you.
When we desire God and seek Him by doing (action verbs, see the list above), then God makes some promises to us:
- He gives understanding to what it means to fear (reverence) the Lord
- You will gain knowledge
- He grants wisdom
- He teaches you from His own mouth (through the Holy Spirit, John 16:13)
- He grants a treasure of commonsense
- He is a shield
- He guards the paths
- He protects
- What are some practical things you can do to take action on this subject?
- How can you increase your desire for God and His wisdom?
- What supplies do you need to begin?
- What resources are available to you today?
- How do you take that first step?
- How can you watch the miracle unfold as God opens up to you? How will you document the miracle of revelation that will occur?