|Volume 18 Number 4 April 2016||
Fred C. Nowell Jr.
Throughout the Bible we see many conditional statements or sentences where conditions and consequences or results are given. This is known as a dependence clause that states a condition (protasis), and the main clause stating the consequence or result (apodosis). Conditional statements are made all the time. We make them numerous times, perhaps even every day! “Clean your room and I’ll take you to the mall.” “Get all your work done and I’ll buy lunch.” The Proverbs are full of conditional statements. In this brief article, I want to consider Proverbs 2. First, let’s look at the conditional statement (protasis).
A Plea to Receive God’s Word
“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding” (verses 1-2). We are well aware that there are different ways to receive something. The word used here in the Greek (laqach) means more than just to hear; it means “to take in, reserve or seize” (Strong’s). Something may be offered to us, and we may or may not respond by taking it or seizing the opportunity to have or possess it. The plea here from the giver is for his offering to be received, to be brought in or to be accepted. Notice the way to receive or take in words. They first enter the ear, and then, they enter the heart (verse 2). The Proverbs (being Inspired by the Holy Spirit of God) speaks of godly words, commandments, wisdom, understanding and knowledge (all closely related and used interchangeably).
Take in my words and hide them or conceal them, not to keep them hidden, but to keep them safe! “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). Listen to me, “incline your ear.” Incline (qashab) means “to prick the ears, hearken” (Strong’s). Listen to wisdom and make application to understanding (tabuwn – intelligent reasoning)!
What good is it to receive or take in God’s Word, place it in your heart, without making application? What good does the Word of God do for us if we let it lay dormant? It’s like having a cure for cancer but keeping it to yourself! Who would do such?
A Plea to Pursue God’s Word
“Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures” (verses 3-4). Inspiration’s plea is for one to “cry out” for knowledge and understanding – to seek after it like one would for great treasure! “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
A great place to bring this plea to life is found in Psalm 119. Consider these verses. “Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart” (verse 34). “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments” (verse 73). “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies” (verse 125). “Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word” (verse 169).
Don’t only cry out for wisdom, understanding and knowledge, search for it! In Acts 17, we have those that desired to discuss and cry out for any and every religious thought or belief. In addition, there were those that heard Paul, who searched the Scriptures to make sure it was so. Some cried out and sought after whatever made them feel good. Others cried out and sought after what was right and true!
When all is said and done, we will all answer for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:10), so we ought to cry for and seek after God’s Word, wisdom, knowledge and understanding like we would for great treasure. God’s Word is a great treasure!
The Resulting Statement (apodosis)
“Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (verse 5). If you receive, hide, hear, apply, cry out, search my Word, wisdom, knowledge and understanding, Then, you will understand fully the fear and reverence of God. The ASV reads, “Then you will discern [ability to know] the fear of the LORD, and discover the knowledge of God.” All come to know God and His Word through a personal investigation. We can see the same principle in Matthew 7:7-8, which reads, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.”
If we will receive God’s Word, incline our ears, apply to our hearts, cry and seek after Him, then we will come to know and be able to discern between what is of Him and what is of the world.
I am a soldier in the greatest army of all – the army of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). I enlisted by accepting the terms of enlistment – hearing the Word of God and believing it (Romans 10:17), repenting of my sins (Luke 13:3), confessing my allegiance to the Captain of the army (Romans 10:9-10) and being baptized into Him for the remission of my sins (Acts 2:38).
I have enlisted for life (Revelation 2:10). I am involved, not in physical, but spiritual warfare (1 Timothy 1:18). I am faced with a cunning enemy that I cannot afford to underestimate (1 Peter 5:8). I am equipped, not with physical, but spiritual weaponry (2 Corinthians 10:4). I have the best weaponry one can have because it was designed and provided by my Commander, God Almighty (Ephesians 6:10-19). I receive my orders from Christ, the Captain of my salvation (Hebrews 2:10). I must not be deterred from fulfilling my duties as a soldier of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4). I am in a battle in which victory is assured if I am but loyal to the One into whose army I enlisted (1 John 5:4; Revelation 2:10). I am a soldier in Christ’s army, which is the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18; Romans 16:16).