Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

The A-B-Cs of Wisdom

Hiding God's Word in your heart

Proverbs 2:1-5

1 My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,

2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
 

Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.

 

The human brain is an amazing thing. You can forget the name of the person you just met–and know by heart all of the words to Kenny Roger’s 1978 song, “The Gambler:”


You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done


If you were alive in 1978, simply reading the lyrics above probably brought the bearded bard’s song rolling back through your brain, unbidden–even to the little “leaky faucet” sound effect that occurs after the first line of the second verse. (There is also a high probability that you do not count your money while sitting at a table–but maybe that is just me.)

Memory, retention, and recall are, of course, vital to the life of a believer–especially where the Word of God is concerned. Think for a moment of all the seemingly “small” things that you may or may not hold in your brain. 

For instance: can you name all twelve disciples? As a young man in Sunday school I was once faced with this challenge and my mind went to the setup of the New Testament in an attempt to recall them via the names of the Gospel books. It went something like this:

“Matthew, Mark, (I got this!) Luke, John, um…Frank?”

Thankfully, a wise and godly adult taught me a simple ditty to help me remember (sung loosely to the tune of Bringing in the Sheaves):


There were twelve disciples, Jesus called to help Him,
Simon Peter, Andrew, James, his brother John;
Philip, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus,
Thaddaeus, Judas, and Bartholomew.

Alphaeus? There were several names in here that I was not too sure about at the time but I am eternally grateful for this friend who passed on this helpful knowledge. 

God has created your brain to be a living super-computer of thought, calculation, and memory. He knows that remembering things–especially biblical truths–does not always come naturally. Your mind has been affected by the Fall and the condition of sin in which you and all mankind reside until you receive your new body in Glory.

With the ebb and flow of a constant wave of information flowing in and out of your mind and heart it is easy to become overwhelmed or struggle to hold scriptural truths you hold dear. Thankfully, like my lyrical benefactor, God knows this and compassionately provides ways to help His children learn to follow His will in wisdom.

Solomon knows this, and as he moves from the first chapter of Proverbs and the preamble to his son to seek godly wisdom, he begins chapter two with a learning aid to help his young pupils. 

Solomon deploys an alphabetical approach to learning with a chapter that is almost an acrostic. In other words, he uses the Hebrew alphabet to help make each verse easier to memorize.

There are other acrostic chapters in the Bible, such as Psalm 119 and later in Proverbs 31. Like these chapters, Proverbs 2 contains twenty-two verses, like the Hebrew alphabet. Where the Psalm and the later chapter in the book employ all letters used consecutively, Chapter two is divided with the Hebrew letter aleph used at the beginning of each verse through verse 1-11 and lamed used for verse 12-22. 

This is fascinating to discover, but what does Solomon wish for his son to learn in Chapter 2? It is time to move from understanding the difference between wisdom and folly and learning how to walk in the way of wisdom. Solomon sets out conditions for this:

1 My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,–Proverbs 2:1

The first condition that Solomon establishes is for his son to receive and keep his words of instruction. Commentator Bruce Waltke makes a beautiful comparison here that the son: 

…become like Solomon’s temple, whose inner sanctuary housed the word of God.–Waltke, “The Book of Proverbs”

The first step in a believer in knowing the will of God through His word is to seek opportunity to hear it. The believer’s joy is in being called to worship, sitting under good preaching or instruction, and reading scripture.

 Now that he has his son’s attention, Solomon continues:

2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;–Proverbs 2:2

Is this not the challenge of every parent with a child, to actually retain and apply all of the wise instruction provided to them? This is most often seen when a child does not retain, or has to be told again and again, “please put away your laundry! This is the second time this week I have found your clothes on the floor!” 

 Do you seek to listen and retain the biblical teaching you receive? In the clutter of life’s thoughts it can be difficult to remember all of the words of a good sermon or the psalm you read this morning may have already faded with the overlay of the day’s news.

Alas, you are not alone. For even Paul sought to encourage the early church–people who knew him and had heard the apostle preach:

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.–Colossians 3:16

Not content with simply hearing and applying, in verses three and four Solomon provides a third condition: to actively seek wisdom:

Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,

If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;–Proverbs 2:3-4

God has blessed His people with His holy Word, and He has also raised up godly men and women who have provided additional resources to aid and guide you. These come in for form of books, music, poems, or other media that can be used to enrich and edify your knowledge in Christ.   

It is a a delight, as a believer, to have such information available and ready. Sometimes we consume this to a fault:

When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.–Desiderius Erasmus

Collecting Christian books and material is an excellent pursuit but Solomon is advising something deeper. He is urging his son to pursue wisdom as a man pursues treasure. 

When is the last time you truly pursued something worthy? Someone who digs for treasure–like the silver spoken of here–first discovers it and then can spend a lifetime mining and placing it in safe-keeping. 

The desire for earthly wealth can drive people to distraction, and even death. Hundreds of prospectors have disappeared or died in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona over the past two-hundred years, searching for the fabled “Lost Dutchman’s Mine.” For many, simply the act of treasure hunting was as much of an attraction as the thought of finding lost Apache gold. 

You find the treasure of God’s wisdom deep in His Word, and in your daily pursuit you store it up in your heart, as the Psalmist sings in that other acrostic chapter:

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.–Psalm 119:11

Committing the Bible to memory may have deeper importance for you some day. On November 28, 1965, Naval aviator Howard Rutledge was shot down over Vietnam while on a combat mission. He parachuted to safety but was immediately taken prisoner–and spent the next seven years in a POW camp.

In prison Rutledge was tortured and locked in isolation. During these times he strained to remember back to his Sunday School days in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Slowly,  he remembered snatches of Scripture, sermons and hymns of his childhood days in church. Soon, he began to recall bible songs and stories–and began sharing them with other POWs in the camp. Together the men formed a bond and grew in faith, and in miserable conditions they found the joy of the Lord.

Today, the modern church in places like China must operate underground, and where scripture is forbidden, believers must remember and work to share the Gospel by heart. 

While Christians in the modern west can attend church and carry their bible in the form of an “app” on their phone, the written word can sometimes be neglected. 

What if technology were to suddenly cease? Or if the political climate changed and your faith had to be practiced in secret? Would you have hidden enough of God’s Word in your heart?

In this storehouse of your heart, you will find what Solomon promises his son–you will understand the fear of the Lord:

Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.–Proverbs 2:5

As God’s child you will treasure up the knowledge of God in scripture, the stories of His people, and the blessed stories of His Son, Jesus. Like the old hymn, “Tell me the Old Old Story” proclaims:  


Tell me the old, old story 
Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, 
Of Jesus and His love.
Tell me the story simply, 
As to a little child;
For I am weak and weary, 
And helpless and defiled.


Tell me the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.

What helps you to remember and to recall the old, old story? Take it to heart while you can. 

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The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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