Proverbs 25:2 may be the leading candidate for a life verse for thoughtful Christians. The text reads, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” This shows the contrast between God and people but also the glory of both. There are some things only God knows or can know. People are not omniscient. But there are some things that people can know, should know, and would find great “glory” in seeking out. In other words, the very acts of study, inquiry, research, investigation, questioning, examining, and “searching out” are things of glory.
The primary contrast in this context is between God and kings. Thus, the first setting of application would be when rulers seek to know all that is going on in their domain.
But it is not unreasonable, given the poetic nature of proverbs and the vocabulary chosen here, to apply this principle to all fields of rulership, in which academic or intellectual study fits rather nicely.
But remember the contrast. Our “searching out” or “uncovering” things brings glory. It is something worthwhile, satisfying, and beneficial – not only to the one doing the searching but to anyone else who might benefit from learning what has been discovered. Thus, a student may be thought of as someone who serves others just as a king serves people (good ones do, at least) by ruling well with equity, honesty, integrity, etc.
The other part of the equation is that all our study and inquiry has limits. God has not told us everything and he will not reveal everything. (Meditate on Deuteronomy 29:29 sometime to fill out this idea). Commentator Allen P. Ross says about this verse, “Kings must make things understandable to people, but God’s providence is beyond knowing.” As we seek, uncover, study, and research, we must do so with a blend of zeal and humility – zeal that it’s worth all the effort, even when it stretches our intellect more than ever before; humility that, at the end of the day, we may never find some of the answers we seek.
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Randy Newman has been with the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980 and currently serves with Faculty Commons, their ministry to university professors. He ministers on campuses and elsewhere in our nation's capital to students, professors and policy shapers. He is an honors graduate from Temple University and has a Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he is also engaged in doctoral studies. Randy is a Jewish Believer in Jesus and is the former editor of The Messiah-On-Campus Bulletin. He is the author of numerous articles and the books Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did and Corner Conversations: Engaging Dialogues about God and Life, both published by Kregel Publications, and Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who Know You Well, forthcoming from Crossway.
To find out more, visit his blog, Integration Points.