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God’s Word for You

Proverbs 25:1-3 the minds of kings

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, May 24, 2019

Chapter 25 begins another series of Proverbs by Solomon, about half the length of the first one (Proverbs 10:1-22:16). This time there are many more direct comparison proverbs using the words “like,” “as,” or “so,” such as here in verse 3.

25 These are more proverbs of Solomon
  which were transcribed by the officials of King Hezekiah of Judah.

Hezekiah reigned from 715-686 BC, more than two hundred years after the death of Solomon. In Hezekiah’s time there was a resurgence of interest in both the wisdom writings of Solomon and the poetry of David. The NIV Study Bible has an excellent note about this: “Solomon was the last king to rule over all Israel during the united monarchy; Hezekiah was the first king to rule over all Israel (now restricted to the southern kingdom) after the destruction of the divided monarchy’s northern kingdom” (p. 981). The word “transcribed” in Hebrew is the causative (hifil) form of ‘atheq, “to cause to move forward.” It is a meaning for this word consistent with a date from the divided kingdom, which also matches the use of King Hezekiah’s name. Verse 1, therefore, dates from the time of Hezekiah (and, incidentally, the prophets Isaiah, Hosea and Micah). This does not change how we accept the divinely inspired word; only that we have an insight in this case as to when these proverbs of Solomon were compiled from their original depository into a form that would be included with the scrolls of Holy Scripture.

Most of Solomon’s 124 proverbs in these chapters (25:1 doesn’t count) are short, single-verse entries, especially in chapters 28 and 29 where no proverbs span more than a single verse. But a characteristic of this section is that many of these proverbs (such as 25:2-3, 25:11-12; 25:18-19 and 25:20 with 25:21-22) are presented in logical pairs.

2 It is the glory of God to conceal things,
  but to search things out is the glory of kings.

3 As the heavens are high,
  as the earth is deep,
  so the minds of kings are unsearchable.

In this pair, the connection is in the word haqar, “to search,” or as a noun, “a searching.” There is the searching that kings do when the truth of a matter must be found. Then there are the unsearchable matters in God’s creation and even in the mind of an earthly king. Let’s look at these in reverse order.

In verse 3, the unsearchable thing is the mind of the king. The ruler of a country or a people has a burden few can truly comprehend. Just this morning,  the Prime Minister of Great Britain (Theresa May) announced her resignation. A national leader has his country in mind, but his country’s relationship with the rest of the world as well. He must attempt to apply policies which will help his people regarding their safety, health, business, and other things. Tiny matters will become national news. In America, we have seen Presidents struggle because of a crippling disease, a foul mouth, a new transportation idea, the nation’s inability to overcome prejudice, an impossible war, an election scandal and attempted cover-up, a brief series of televised stumbles, and a genuine Christian faith (these were just from the 1940s to the 1970s). The leader of a nation has an impossible task, and his people will generally disapprove of what he does. So deep in his mind and in his heart, he keeps many things buried and secret, if he is wise. He cannot tell his people everything; he must keep some things to himself.

This is a caution to all of us. This caution is not just that we should be careful of our criticism of national leaders, but that everyone in a position of leadership must be careful and choose his advisors wisely. Praise God for the leaders he gives to us, and may he always use our leaders for our benefit, and not for our chastisement.

The comparison in verse 2 is the differing glory between God and man. God’s glory is in concealing things that man can never discover unless the matter is finally revealed in the word of God. Kings receive some smaller glory by uncovering the truth in a dispute. Examples of things that God has concealed include his nature, his name, the origin of sin, and his solution to our sins. Without the word of God, we would never have guessed these things. It’s for this reason that we think of God’s word as the revealed knowledge of God as opposed to the natural knowledge of God. The natural knowledge includes those things that man can learn about God from nature and from human reason. We can learn that there is a Creator, that creation follows a plan or design, that God is holy, that God condemns sin, and that man cannot appease God for his sins through any means available to him.

In the revealed knowledge of the Scriptures, we learn God’s names, especially the name of Jesus Christ. We learn that God imparts his righteousness to us through faith according to his grace. And we learn that salvation comes through the blood of Jesus, and it is available to everyone who puts their trust in him: “Whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17). We would never have known this if God had not revealed what was hidden. Search the Scriptures, and discover for yourself the revealed wonders of God.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



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