There are at least three divisions in the Book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are written in paragraph form and contain a lot of figurative material. Proverbs 9 – “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.” This “wisdom” refers to the Lord in one fashion or another.
Then in chapter 10 we begin to see the pithy statements of the the Holy Spirit. “The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother. Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death. The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.”
When chapter 25 begins the Spiritual editor of this book tells us that Solomon’s proverbs were gathered in a different way. “These are ALSO proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.” “Copied out” is a Hebrew word most often translated “removed.” These proverbs were “removed” or if you like “transcribed” from the documents of Solomon’s court. These were things which the king said while dealing with the daily matters of state. Some people are gifted at speaking in this pithy, memorable sort of way, and Solomon was one of them. He didn’t pick and choose them for inclusion here, but rather some of later scribes or perhaps counselors did that for him. Someone heard, or perhaps read the words of the king and concluded that these were special. And to be honest, so do I – for example – “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
What is it that Elohim has concealed?
The Bible often speaks about these mysteries. But at this point I’ll only quote Zophar, the Naamathite, who said in Job 11:7-8 – “Canst thou by searching find out God canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader that the sea.” Actually, several of the men in the Book of Job deal with this question of the mysteries of God. We might read a few chapters from that book to answer my question, but we will go in another direction. What has God hidden from our view?
There are things about His nature which we will probably never know – which we may be incapable of knowing. Can we even begin to understand the nature of the Trinity? If Christ is the eternal Son, how was there not a beginning – how can this be? How can each member of the Trinity be equal in everything – a true triunity in a single God? How, as God – Jehovah – could the Son lay aside some of His divine prerogatives and still be divine? We could run through each of the attributes of God and find unanswerable questions about them all. By what means does God know all things? He doesn’t need means, you say? How is that possible? As infinitely holy and omnipotent, how is it possible that sin is not instantly consumed by God’s judgment? In other words, how does divine patience interplay with the rest of God’s attributes. What explanation is there for grace when placed in the light of God’s holiness? We could go on and on, and I’m sure you could come up with better questions that these.
And then there are the mysteries of God’s actions. If the Lord knew that man would sin, why did He create Adam and create that possibility? And then why didn’t He destroy the first human couple and start over again? Why did the Lord wait so many millennia before He began the work of redemption? If would cost the death of the Son of God, why go to that trouble at all. God’s work of predestination is a mystery well hidden only to be revealed at the time of His choosing. “He changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.” Why? What of those times and season?
It might even be appropriate to ask HOW it is God has concealed these things? Of course, much of it is hidden behind our sin-cursed minds. But some of it is buried behind the Shekinah glory of God. “Shekhinah” is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “dwelling” or “setting” – in other words, the divine presence of God. Just as we can’t see into the interior of the sun, we can’t see into the throne room of God – let alone the heart of Jehovah. Furthermore, it is simply not God’s will that we never fully know the Lord.
But why is that to the Lord’s glory?
Because when we are talking about Jehovah, what we don’t know draws us up even higher. There are mysteries about certain men, which cause doubts and ugly thoughts. We know that he is evil, so we consider what we don’t know to be even worse than what we do know. But when our hearts are right – when the Spirit-filled child of God meditates on the mysteries of our most glorious Saviour – our thoughts are drawn to even higher levels. We are thankful – supremely thankful for our salvation, and some of the points of that salvation we have begun to grasp. But those aspects of redemption – divine love, grace, eternal election …. Those aspects of our salvation which are beyond our ability to understand elicit greater and greater awe. The more we know of our own wretched hearts and souls make us increase in praise and worship of the God whose heart we cannot plumb, climb or enter.
What is the purpose of this mystery in God? Isn’t it increased praise – greater praise to God? Paul says in Romans 11 – “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” God’s unsearchable ways are designed to draw out our “to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
However, it is “the honour of kings … to search out a matter.”
Moses declared in Deuteronomy 29:29 – “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.” Notice – There are secret things, but there are also revealed things, or things which we can and should learn – “that we may do all the words of this law.”
It is “the honour of kings.” Let me knowingly wrest – twist – the scriptures just a little bit. I know we aren’t ordinarily supposed to do that. Peter said, “they that are unlearned and unstable WREST (the words of Paul), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” We aren’t to twist and turn God’s word, but when we are alert to what is happening, and when I give you a warning, you might be able to follow my misdirection toward a lesson.
The saints of God in Berea were praised for their NOBILITY. Among the things of man, “nobility” includes dukes, princes, viscounts and kings. The Christians in Berea, “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and SEARCHED the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” To God’s nobility – kings and priests in Christ – comes a longing, yearning and searching for the deeper things of God – the somewhat hidden things of God. There are things about the Lord – diamonds – which are hidden for a purpose, but which are meant to be mined out, exposed and crafted into spiritual jewelry.
Why did Christ use parables so often? First, because it fulfilled prophecy – “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” But Jesus also said that He spoke in parables to reveal truth to His disciples while at the same time keeping those truths hidden from rebels and unbelievers. We will never know all there is about the Lord, but it is God’s will that His nobility – His kings and priests – might know more than others.
Having pointed to Solomon’s meaning, let’s make an entirely different, yet Biblical application.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” Let’s say that someone in Solomon’s kingdom has committed murder. He has covered his crime very well; he made very few mistakes; there are few clues. But justice demands that he be judged; society is crying out for vengeance; Solomon wants it too. There is a murderer loose and people are in fear for their lives. It is the honour of the king, the police, the prosecutor, the justice system to find and punish that man. It is to the king’s honour to search out that matter. The king, “beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
But let’s say that the murder was committed against a man who molested and raped a young girl. Let’s say that the murderer in this case was the father of that first victim. When the local prosecutor determined there wasn’t any evidence against the rapist, the girl’s father became even more enraged and then surreptitiously killed the evil man. But then, when what he had done began to weigh upon him, he repented of his crime. He confessed his sin to the Lord in tears and ashes, offering and pleading the blood of God’s sacrifice. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing.”
John Gill says there are Jewish commentators who apply this concealment to the application of blood which covers sin. It may be the king’s responsibility to search out the matter, but it is to God’s glory that He covers it – in the sense of atonement. Murder is not the only sin punishable by eternal death – we were all on death row for crimes against God. But “it is to the highest glory of God to cover and make an atonement for those sins.”