1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. 7 He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly. 8 He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints. 9 Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.Proverbs 2:1-9
I remember back in the 1980s when I first started playing with computers we had to write into memory any program that we wanted to run. I would play with friends’ computers that would hook directly into a TV as a monitor, but there was no storage for programs. (Later we bought a Commodore 64 with a cassette tape drive. Ahh, the good old days.)
When writing BASIC programs I learned about If-Then statements. The concept is still used in programming today. But we also see this idea in many other areas of life. In Proverbs chapter two there is a list of If-Then promises.
Solomon says to his son—which can be interpreted as anyone who will listen—that there is a result to paying attention to his words. In this case, he is making an argument for heeding wisdom. Wisdom is often personified in Proverbs as it is here.
… you will receive my words
As we saw from chapter one, this is the idea of seizing the information given. Not just casually watching from the sidelines, but jumping in and actually trying to learn.
We need to become students of God’s Word and the wisdom He imparts. Don’t just allow Bible teaching to come to you, go out and find it. I’ve heard it said of language learning, “no one can teach you a language. You have to learn it.” I think that can be applied to learning God’s Word too. There are plenty of teachers, but until you are ready to receive (grab hold of) wisdom from God, then you won’t reap the benefits God’s wisdom offers.
… and hide my commandments
What do pirates do with their treasure? They bury it and hide it. At least that is what we’ve been led to believe. That is exactly the idea of this word hide. It is to esteem something valuable enough to store it up and hoard it.
I understand this is Solomon speaking here, but I think the example is that we should value God’s commandments enough to hide them and place great value on them.
How do we hide God’s commandments? Spend time in His Word and learn what He has already said. Sometimes people are looking for a “clear word from God.” If you haven’t been paying attention to what God has already clearly said in His Word, then it will be very difficult for you to know whether it is Him leading you or your own fleshly desires.
Verse two is a continuation of that thought of leaning in and paying attention.
… you will cry after knowledge and understanding
Understanding and knowledge are various aspects of the wisdom that is being taught here. Get the attention of knowledge (discernment) and understanding (practiced wisdom, skill). Cry after it. Lift up your voice in search of it. Again, don’t just allow it to causally pass by, but lay hold of it as a treasure.
… you seek wisdom as if it were silver and a treasure
You have been given an invitation to obtain a great treasure. Many people will throw the invitation away thinking that it doesn’t apply to them. Or, they will think that it is too good to be true. What we are told to do in Proverbs is to seek out, request—even demand—this treasure of wisdom.
Do you desire wisdom enough to look for and cry after it?
All of this speaks to the fact that wisdom (knowledge and understanding) can be had by those who seek it. This book exists so that you can gain this wisdom. The book assumes that you can learn. You don’t have to know everything to embark on the pursuit of wisdom. It is something that you can gain skill at by practicing.
Whenever I read the word if I immediately start looking for the then that goes with it. Here is the beautiful then.
… you will understand the fear of the Lord
This word understand is to perceive, discern, have insight. All things that can be improved with practice. And, we are told that we can discern—understand—the fear of the Lord because of seeking wisdom like a precious treasure.
So, what is the fear of the Lord? This certainly deserves being fleshed out in more detail, but Hebrews 12:28, 29 gives us an example of why to fear God. It is because He is a consuming fire. Fire can be beautiful, perform work, and be generally helpful. Without fire we would not have the technology and society we have today. But fire is also something that can incite terror.
Fearing God has an element of terror, but also healthy respect. It is not just one or the other. But both. And, so much more.
While explaining the fear of God may be difficult to do in a few words, spending your life searching for wisdom will help you understand the concept of the fear of the Lord.
… and you will find the knowledge of God
This word find in Hebrew is very much like our English word today. It can mean to casually stumble onto something. Or, it can mean to discover something that you have been searching for diligently. And I think both can apply here.
When you diligently seek for wisdom as a hid treasure, you will uncover more and more understanding about God and His ways. This may be in a very deliberate area where you were seeking insight. Or, it could be that you were looking for one thing and God brought some other truth across your path.
Someone who rejects God will find it very difficult to to have an understanding of God and His Word. They are not seeking God and His wisdom, therefore they won’t even know what they have found when they stumble upon a truth lying in plain sight.
I trust God will grant you understanding and knowledge of Him as you study and obey His Word.