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.
The fear of the LORD is the key that unlocks God’s wisdom. But it turns out to not be the conventional turn key, but rather a combination lock.
A traditional combination lock is a mechanism that consists of a stack of wheels. Each wheel has a notch or gate. When all the gates line up this allows what is called the fence lever to fall into the gates releasing the lock. Solomon, here in Proverbs 2:1-5, gives us the combination key to unlock God’s wisdom. This lock has five gates that all have to line up. When they do then the fence lever which is the fear of the LORD will fall into place unlocking God’s wisdom.
Gate One: Listen to his word with your heart
You begin as a passive learner. You sit and you listen to his words. Practically this would mean reading or listening to the preaching of God’s word. The proverbs are written poetically so the first step is found in the second verse. Before anything else you must incline your ear and and apply your heart to his words. To incline and apply means to bend your ear and bow your heart. Solomon means you must listen with a submissive heart. A heart that will not bow is an ear that will not hear (Matthew 13:13-16).
Gate Two: Receive his words
Step two looks back to verse one. Only he who listens can receive. To receive means to accept, to believe. It is the same language as receiving the Lord himself into your heart by faith (Mark 4:20), you must believe in his words and receive them by faith. You must accept them into your heart.
Gate Three: Memorise his words
You receive them so that you can hide them. They are precious so you lock the treasure away to keep it and guard it tightly. The Hebrew mind would have understood the figurative language of this “hiding” to mean the very literal practice of memorisation. To hide means to “store up”. That is how we hide God’s words in our heart by storing them in our head (Job 22:22; Psalm 119:11).
Gate Four: Pray for Wisdom
Even here a change begins to transpire. You are no longer a passive learner, but actively pursuing wisdom. You cry out for it in prayer (James 1:5). This cry in verse three is your answer to Lady Wisdom in chapter one as she cries out and lifts her voice to call you in. Your prayer is an acceptance to that call.
Gate Five: Study for wisdom
You are not just asking, but you are seeking. You are digging for his treasure. You are a desperate and diligent studier of his word (2 Timothy 2:15). To study must have two aspects. Just as the doctor must pour over her books; she must also practice her medicine. Just as a musician must learn to read music he must also practice his instrument. In the same way you must both research his word and rehearse his word if you will be a successful student. Studying God’s word is exactly like learning to ride a bike. Your father’s instructions must coincide with your attempts to peddle.
These are the conditions that are met with the promise that you will come to understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God (vs 5).
To understand what the fear of the LORD is, read the previous blog, The Fear of the LORD. To find the knowledge of God means you will come to know him intimately. It is within this fearful closeness that our father gives wisdom from his own mouth.
This is the combination. When all five gates line up, the fear of the LORD falls into place unlocking his wisdom.
- Listen to his word – listen with your heart
- Receive his word – accept it in your heart
- Memorise his word – hide it in your heart
- Pray for wisdom – ask & answer the call
- Study his word – research it & rehearse it
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