FEBRUARY 16 – Understanding Hearts
1 Kings 3:9 Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?
An understanding heart is what is needed today. To often we are critical without understanding the desire of God or understanding the situation that has occurred. I am not suggesting that we let sin slide without proper measure. I am suggesting that we are too presumptuous sometimes.
An understanding heart seeks God and the will of God. When we understand the will of God and apply His law and judgments we then discern between good and evil. This understanding heart will seek the knowledge needed to correctly handle a problem or situation.
An understanding heart seeks wisdom from above to make application here on earth. Our actions with our loved ones and friends and others need to be “seasoned with grace” and applied with the “salve of love.” How often we harm instead of heal.
Let us, like Solomon, pray for an understanding heart.
Parson to Person
Sometimes the question is asked, “Where should I start reading in the Bible?” Well, for the initial reader, I really would not recommend the genealogy chapters, although they are important. There are better places to “wade in” to the Word. For instance, if one likes suspense, adventure, romance, and a general all around thriller, there could be no better than Genesis.
However if one wants to be spellbound by the enormous faithfulness of God to His faithful people, the first few chapters of Daniel fills the bill. If one wants poetry and praise, look into the Psalms. For those enamored with knowledge, understanding and wisdom, Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are the books to read.
The great blessings of faithfulness, and curse of infidelity are impressive in Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. War in conquest and defeat are the offerings of Joshua, Judges, and the books of Samuel. The Chronicles and Kings yield up much history of the ruling dynasties of Israel and of Judah, while the prophets’ books lay bare their burdens of condemnation of sin, and of hope in the end.
The gospels relate much of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the foundation of the New Covenant underscoring the terrible, but altogether loving sacrifice of God’s only begotten Son for all who would trust in Him.
Acts speaks of the empowerment of the Lord’s church and its initial mission efforts into all the world. The apostolic epistles are filled with doctrines that are to govern the Lord’s people throughout this age, and Revelation reveals the final victorious Christ Jesus together with events leading up to His displayed supremacy, and the final abode of His people in a new creation of which New Jerusalem is the focal point. Incidentally, since understanding Revelation depends on a good understanding of all the rest of the Bible, I usually do not recommend it for the initial reader, but I never dissuade anyone from reading it as much as they like.
So, Perhaps I have helped some along the way to choose an introduction to the eternal Word. It is prayed that all men might come to realize that mastery of the Bible as much as possible is the most important thing they will ever do. The “where to start” question is a thrill. It means someone is going to be exposed to life altering Holy Writ to their benefit and to the glory of God. Have you read any of the Word lately?
’ewiyl [and] kesiyl
Opposite those who are wise, understanding, and discerning is the fool, about whom the Bible has much to say. There are some 160 references to the fool (or “fools” and “foolish”) in Scripture (AV), most of which are in the OT (only thirty-three in the NT).
One word translated fool is ’ewiyl (H191), which is derived, some scholars think, from yā’al (“to be foolish”), while others think it comes from “an Arabic word meaning ‘be thick,’ and therefore ‘thick-brained’ or ‘stupid.’” Whichever is correct, ’ewiyl seems to be the first level of foolish behavior. This type of fool is one who seeks controversy and argument (Pro_20:3), despises instruction because of perceived self-sufficiency (Pro_1:7; Pro_12:15), and is basically immoral (Pro_7:21-22; Pro_14:9). So complete is this fool’s insolence, in fact, that it is a waste of time to even speak to him: “The instruction of fools is folly” (Pro_16:22). Even if you ground him in a mortar with a pestle, it would do no good (Pro_27:22). What is this fool’s end? He “shall fall” (Pro_10:8, lāḇat, H3832, “torn down, ruined”).
The next level of fool is kesiyl (H3684), which appears some seventy times, more than twice as often as ’ewiyl. It comes from the root kāsal (H3688), which appears only in Jer_10:8 in reference to idol worshippers. The associated Arabic word gives a picture of sluggishness. Here then is the dull, obstinate fellow who, even if you put truth right in front of his eyes, will not see it (Pro_17:24). He simply cannot (and would not even if he could) see what is right. And, like ’ewiyl, it is pointless to speak to this fool (Pro_23:9).
This fool is vividly contrasted in Pro_1:22 : “How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?” While the “simple” man is naive about what is true, and while the “scorner” mocks truth as unknowable or relative, the fool obstinately and irrationally refuses truth, adamantly rejecting true knowledge, which is not only the knowledge of God but any knowledge that comes from God. Again, what is this fool’s end? He will be shamed and dishonored (Pro_3:35) and ultimately destroyed (Pro_18:7).
How does the fool encourage the believer? We are reminded that while the fool despises wisdom and instruction, we know that it is God who is the beginning of everything (Pro_1:7).
Scriptures for Study: Note some of the traits of ’ewiyl in the following verses: Pro_12:15; Pro_14:3; Pro_14:9; Pro_15:5. Now note a few of the traits of kesiyl: Pro_14:7-8; Pro_15:7; Pro_26:11; Pro_29:11.
The Hebrew biyn (H995) is translated several ways in our AV Bible, including (and most often) “understand” (62) and understanding (32). Several other translations (e.g., “consider, perceive, discern”) reflect the fact that biyn, which with its derivatives appears 247 times, has a wide range of meanings, also including: “to discern, perceive, observe, understand, pay attention, be intelligent, and be discreet.”
Biyn is, therefore, much more than just gathering knowledge. It’s about understanding that knowledge. As was true of Daniel, for example, a person might be able to hear words, but not understand them (Dan_12:8). As vital as knowledge is, by itself it is virtually worthless. To illustrate, a man might know by heart every medical work that has ever been written and yet be the worst doctor in the world because he doesn’t truly understand how it all works. He can memorize it, but he can’t apply it.
Biyn, therefore, speaks of how we use the knowledge we acquire. I am struck often by the depth of Psalms 119. In Psa_119:27, the psalmist (probably David) prays, “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works,” and again in Psa_119:34, “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart,” and still again in Psa_119:73, “give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments” (see also Psa_119:100,). David didn’t want just knowledge but to know why that knowledge was important, the way that knowledge applied to the real world, and even the consequences that knowledge would have on everything else.
That is what is so desperately needed today. A consistent Christian life is absolutely impossible without constant learning and a growing understanding of what that knowledge will demand in one’s Christian walk. And from where does such understanding come? David again answers, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Psa_119:104). Understanding is not a product of rationalism or empiricism. It is comes only from God (Dan_2:21) and only by diligent seeking (Pro_2:4-5).
Scriptures for Study: In Pro_17:10, what is the difference between the wise (biyn) man and the fool? In Pro_28:5, what do those who “seek the LORD” understand?