It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.Proverbs 25:2
My first understanding of the word curiosity came from a tailless monkey and a man with a yellow hat. You probably had a similar experience reading the Curious George books as a child. And, it was made clear to us children, that curiosity could only lead to trouble.
Then we hear the oft-used phrase, “curiosity killed the cat.” To which I like to reply, “yes, but satisfaction brought him back.”
Certainly there are times when a person can be inappropriately curious; a.k.a., nosy. But, for the most part, I think curiosity is something that we should be encouraged to develop.
Curiosity is Not Bad, It is Glorious
Solomon tells us here in Proverbs 25:2 that it is honorable to be curious. What I found interesting about this verse are the actual words used in Hebrew. English has translated the verse to be more poetic, but it is actually very symmetric in the original language (like much of Psalms and Proverbs are).
In the verse, the words glory and honor are the same word in Hebrew. And the words thing and matter are identical to one another.
It is glorious to God to hide or to conceal something and it is glorious to man to discover it. God takes pleasure and glory in hiding stuff in creation for us to find. And, it is a pleasure for people to discover what God has hidden.
Easter Egg Hunt
If you have taken part of an Easter Egg hunt, you know that it can be fun whether you are the one doing the hiding or the finding. There is pleasure in both aspects of the hunt.
The adult version of that game would be Geocaching. There are thousands of little boxes (caches) hidden around the world that people put out so that others can have the joy of finding them.
I think this is the meaning of what Solomon is teaching. God gets pleasure, enjoyment, even honor from His work of hiding things for us to discover. And, we can derive great joy from discovering God’s creation.
You Don’t Have to be First
Have you heard about the Wright brothers’ most well-funded competitor, Samuel Pierpont Langley? The name may be familiar, but that he was involved with trying to be first in powered flight might be unknown to you. He did do some great work in the realm of flight, but he also largely gave up once the Wright brothers accomplished powered flight.
But the joy of discovery or invention can be enjoyed by more than one person. Of course, most of us aren’t trying to accomplish the same type of work the Wright brothers did, but we can still enjoy the process of learning something new through the process of discovery.
Whether you understand the math in this video or not, the message of the joy of discovery is the main point.
Don’t Let the World Kill Your Curiosity
Albert Einstein was an insatiably curious man. He talked or wrote about it several times. In an essay called The World As I See It, Einstein talks of wonder and awe. He said, “Whoever does not [experience the mysterious] and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.” He wrote something similar for an anthology called Living Philosophies.
It baffles me to talk with people who seem to have no curiosity to learn new things. I have a vast domain of curiosity (maybe too much). Not everyone has to inspect every rabbit hole, or chase every squirrel they see like I seem to have to do, but I think everyone should have some sense of wonder and desire to discover new things. Otherwise, God’s glory and man’s honor never get put on display.
Another quote by Einstein (which is put more pithily in the following poster) is, “It is nothing short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry.”
I like this quote because it takes a jab at one of my favorite institutions to poke fun at: school. I think that much of our curiosity is stifled in the classroom. We are told what to study and when to study it.
It seems ironic to me that a person is not allowed to get excited about a topic to study on their own until they finally get out of formal educational institutions. In school there is very little room for a person to go off script and become passionate about a topic because there are test schedules to keep.
Take pleasure in the joy of discovery. Be curious about the world around you; even if the man in the yellow hat tries to tell you otherwise.