“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” . (Proverbs 25:2)
So reads the first of Solomon’s proverbs. And he goes on to say that “As the heaven is for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable.” What do these words signify? Does it mean that ONLY kings have the ability to search out the “secrets of the Lord”? And why is the “heart of a king unsearchable”?
The story of Solomon, and how as a very young man he sought the wisdom of God, is too well known to require repetition here. Josephus suggests that he was but a teenager when he became king. He knew nothing (in practical terms) of the trials and tribulations that his father endured, those experiences which moulded him into “a man after God’s own heart.” How was he to rule God’s people? He cried for help, and the Lord was well pleased to supply him with that for which he asked. And for many years he used that wisdom in the onerous tasks of kingship.
But do Solomon’s words have any practical application for us today? And if so, are they limited to the royal family? Does God limit His secret knowledge to Kings and Princes?
I believe the answer to this question is No. Long before Israel ever had a King, God made a promise to the whole nation, saying, “If you obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS, and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5-6) Likewise in the New Testament, Peter declared to the believers of his day, “You are a chosen generation, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light, who in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
It is statements like these that enable us to enter into that kingship which can unlock “the secrets of the Lord.” They are not reserved just for the nobility and royalty of any land, but reserved rather for those who have been “called out of darkness into His marvellous light.” Yes, that is the key -LIGHT. Inner enlightenment , God-given wisdom. But someone may say, “It’s all very well, but I’m a simple chap. I don’t have much in the way of intelligence.” Then I can only answer, as James did,“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it shall be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without wavering.”(James 1 :5-6)
One must distinguish between KNOWLEDGE and WISDOM. Knowledge may be defined as a faculty of the mind, whereby information is stored and used, but wisdom is the faculty of knowing HOW to use knowledge, and is of a higher order than knowledge. One may have great intelligence, but lack the wisdom to know how to use it, whereas another may have very limited mental agility, and yet sense the propriety of correct usage.
It was never the intention of the Lord to withhold wisdom from any of His children. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law,” declared Moses in his day. (Deut .29:29) And as I understand his words, the “revealed” things were originally the “secret” things, but God made them known, so that they could understand and follow His ways. Daniel said of the Lord, “He gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and secret things. He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:22)
And so the Lord encourages us to approach Him and have the wisdom He longs to provide. The wise man who wrote part of the Book of Proverbs said, prophetically, “My son, give me your heart , and let your eyes observe my ways. ” (Proverbs 23:26) Do you consider yourself of little consequence as a human being? Then there is great hope! . . The Lord “has not called many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, the base and despised things – – – that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Cor.1:26-28)
As I write today, the Educational “League Tables” have appeared in the English daily papers. As a nation we are being fooled into thinking that REAL success in life depends on achieving so many GCSEs at 16 years of age. Those schools which have the greatest number of results are placed highest in the League Tables. What a travesty of the truth. I wonder just how many lesser intelligent children grow up with a strong sense of injustice because of this. They may even hit out at God – “Why have you made me thus? It’s not fair. Why couldn’t I have had HIS or HER intelligence?” On the other hand they may feel that their parents are at fault. “Why did I have to be born to THEM? Neither of them has any brains!” These are some of the sad conclusions to the present-day educational thrust.
How different is the truth as God sees it . Listen to the words He gave to Jeremiah (9:23- 24) “Thus says the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might , nor the rich man glory in his riches, but let him who glories glory in this, that HE UNDERSTANDS AND KNOWS ME, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.”
Whence comes the Lord’s wisdom then? “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:lO) True wisdom is always related to a knowledge of the Lord. Mark you, it’s not like the man who says, “I know John Major. He’s the Prime Minister.” He may never have actually SEEN John Major, only in photographic form or on the T.V. , and yet he declares that he KNOWS him. If this is all we KNOW about God, then we are still far away from possessing the true wisdom. To KNOW God is to have had some personal contact with Him, to talk to Him, and to learn to hear His “still small voice” of correction, comfort, or direction. And the author of Proverbs tells us that the STARTING POINT is the fear (or true reverence) of the Lord. It’s an attitude which allows the soul to relax and rest quietly in God’s presence, knowing that He is wholly reliable, wholly righteous, and utterly wise and loving in all His doings.
Hear the words of Ellen Lakshmi Goreh, in her beautiful hymn.
“In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons which I learn at Jesus’ side,
Earthly cares can never vex me, neither trials lay me low,
For when Satan comes to tempt me, to the secret place I go,
To the secret place I go.”
In the writings of countless men and women in our present age we have a rich testimony to these simple truths. How often does one find mention of the “secret place”, that quiet rest that comes from a soul who has relinquished all struggle, laid on one side all unworthy thoughts about God, and simply rested on Him, even as the Apostle John, who laid his head on Jesus’ breast at the last supper. He had learned that lesson, even if it needed more time to perfect it in later days.
“The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show THEM His covenant .” (Psalm 25:14) Notice the progression of though, reverence, knowledge of the Lord, wisdom, revelation. Hear the words of David – “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to contemplate in His Temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His Pavilion, in the SECRET PLACE of His Tabernacle shall He hide me, and set me upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:4-5) Happy indeed is the soul who can so utterly rest in his God, whether it be in joyful days or in times of adversity.
The Lord has spoken about secret things on a number of occasions. In the Gospels He taught by means of parable, a method which at first confused the disciples because they couldn’t understand what He was saying. But as He pointed out to them, the parables were “secret things that had been hidden from the foundation of the world” (Matt .13:35) and were not even THEN to be blasted into the open before all mankind. And so the Lord opened their eyes to see, and to know, and to understand, His secret purposes. “Have you understood?” “Yes, Lord.” “Blessed are your eyes because it has been given to YOU to know the mysteries, the sacred secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Today, of course, everyone thinks he knows what these parables mean. But this is far from the truth. The parables actually HID the truths from the crowds who listened. It was not the right time for them to know the mysteries of the Kingdom. Can we therefore say in all honesty that God has flung wide the door of understanding, so that anyone who reads the parables today knows the meaning? Are they “simple stories to help us know the truth” (as someone put it in an expository book I was reading. )
The disciples had their eyes opened, but even they had to realise that many truths still lay hidden from them- “When the Holy Spirit is come, you will be led into all truth,” the Lord said. Even at the time of the crucifixion, they were perplexed. Why? Hadn’t the Lord warned them of what would happen? Yes, several times He had spoken about His imminent sufferings at the hands of the authorities. Why hadn’t they believed? And after the resurrection, when the women came back to report the good news, why was it that they treated their words as “idle ta1es” ?See how enlightenment grows at a slow pace. And if it was happening like that in their day, can we say that it is any different now?
As I look back over many years of knowing the Lord, I can see the arrogance I possessed in earlier days, thinking that I had gained a reasonably full and accurate understanding of the Lord and His ways. But I also know that the Lord doesn’t deride that in His children. He sees us all in a state of progression. We are all at different stages in “knowing the Lord.” Remember the words God gave to Jeremiah. What characteristics did He mention about Himself? “Lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness.” What did I know about these qualities, l0, 20, 30 years ago? Rather little, as seen from my present vantage point. But that leads me to say that I have still very much to learn. In fact the more I have understood over the years, the more I realise there is to know. When Sir Isaac Newton had reached the end of his earthly days, he made this statement. “I seem to have been like a little child on the beach, finding here, finding there, perhaps a more beautiful shell , but the whole ocean of truth still lies hidden before me.”
The Lord spoke about the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of treasure hidden in a field. If the Kingdom is like that, then I suppose few have determined what it is all about . How many of us have found it? And if we have, what about having to “sell all” in order to get it? The rich young man was most anxious to reach perfection, but his riches got in the way. He never wanted to “sell all.” But if once we get a true vision of the Kingdom of God, then something of its beauty and wonder will cause us to treat all earthly possessions as very cheap by comparison. Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” He knew and understood.
Who are to be God’s “kings and princes” in His Millennial Rule? Everyone who believes? Or is there more to it? The Lord says, “By me Kings reign and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles ,even all the judges of the earth. I love those who love me, and those who seek me early shall find me. Riches and honour are with me, even durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver.”(Proverbs 8:15-19) In the Revelation the Lord speaks to the Laodiciean Church, and promises the overcomers a position sharing His own throne. This sounds almost unbelievable as a privilege, but the Master’s words stand. When “overcoming’ is properly understood, then a pathway towards reigning with Christ is unveiled before the eyes. God’s “special people’ , His “peculiar treasure.” His “kingdom of priests’ is made up from amongst those who are redeemed. No one who has ever believed will lose his salvation but not all believers will be judged capable of occupying positions of service in the coming Kingdom. This thought should keep us all in a position of the utmost humility. Kingdom rule is a reward, but salvation is a free gift of God.
Elsewhere in Revelation the overcomers are promised “hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it .” Manna was heavenly food for those redeemed from Egypt but not yet in the Promised Land. Now the Lord offers “Hidden Manna” of a spiritual kind, secret food, to those who stay close to Him, revere Him, and seek to walk in wisdom. The “white stone” is literally a “white pebble” as used in voting . Just as we have become used to having our secret PIN numbers these days, so those in the Kingdom will have a secret ability to vote in all matters relating to the rule of Christ in the Millennium.
Truly “God reveals His secrets to His servants” (Amos 3:7) and those secrets are to do with His own character, His loving kindness, justice and righteousness. How greatly we are in need of these characteristics. May we therefore “dwell in the SECRET PLACE of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty,” (Ps.91 :1 ) knowing that “the spirit searches all the deep things of God.” (1 Cor.2:lO)