Things Too Wonderful

To know, or to study?

Job 42:3b (NKJV)

Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

Job graduates the College of Hard Knocks with a precious insight—knowledge of God is above his pay grade. It’s above all our pay grades.

So, what are we to do? Should we try to comprehend the incomprehensible?

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
    my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
    too great and too marvelous for me.
— Psalm 131:1 (ESV)

Is trying to comprehend things too great and too marvelous raising our eyes too high? The psalmist seems to be saying that, especially when he continues with:

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
    like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child is my soul within me.
— Psalm 131:2 (ESV)

It is good to be satisfied with incomplete understanding of the incomprehensible. Anything else is a prescription for agony. Still, Jesus taught many lessons about Himself and His kingdom. He doesn’t want us to ignore the topic.

So, we come to a narrow conclusion. We’re supposed to study wonderful things, yet not expect to master the subject. Demanding perfect understanding is an error, which leads to an unquieted soul.

This seems close to a contradiction. Are we supposed to be content with our understanding or not? Can we have it both ways?

A good answer comes from baseball. Baseball players like to say that hitting is one of the most difficult tasks known to man. You fail most of the time—getting out. A batter who succeeds one-third of the time is a good hitter. The last batter to succeed forty percent of the time (Ted Williams) is famous for it.

So we find a similar “near contradiction.” A baseball player can have a batting average everyone admires and still strive to improve. He’s happy but never satisfied.

Welcome to life in Christ. We’re supposed to pursue understanding and excellence in all things, yet not be neurotic about it. We’re supposed to have peace, while still striving to improve.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. — Philippians 4:6–7 (NKJV)

All the weekly study guides, which include all five devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

Latest from Mike Slay