A Lesson in Proverbs 2:2
“So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding” Proverbs 2:2 (KJV)
I’m focusing on humility this year. It is the path to wisdom, and I’m seeking wisdom in all things. I’ve learned a lot in a short time and I’m doing my best to put all I’ve learned into context with all else I’ve learned. That takes patience and effort and it is apparent that this wisdom quest is a lifelong journey.
This morning I came upon Proverbs 2:2 and was struck by several things. It’s three-dimensional, in that the verse applies to the physical, emotional and spiritual. To incline one’s ear a physical act. To incline one’s ear to wisdom is physical and spiritual. To apply one’s heart to understanding is emotional and spiritual. To both incline and apply is physical, emotional and spiritual.
To find something you must seek it. To seek it, you must know and believe it exists. I know wisdom exists just as I know we don’t always exercise it or apply it. But it is there. So if we incline an ear to it, what does that mean?
Maybe it’s to listen to that small voice inside us that says, “This is right” or “This is wrong.” Maybe it’s the bubble in your stomach you get when you know you’ve heard or come upon something profound or important. But hearing that voice alone, or feeling just the bubble isn’t the all of wisdom. Wisdom must also be applied to be realized. The stove is hot. We recognize it, but if we don’t understand what hot means, that it carries consequences, we’re not getting the full grasp on the wisdom in the warning or the knowledge. See what I mean?
Apply the heart to understanding. That might have read to apply the mind. But it doesn’t. Why is that? There is a reason, to be sure. What is it?
It could be that the mind is easier to deceive than the heart. Easier to mislead or misdirect. The mind can rationalize, gloss over—and the heart can, too. The difference is the mind can convince us it isn’t. The heart recognizes the truth. You might choose to ignore it, but the truth is there, telling you that you’re making excuses, acting in compassion perhaps, but the truth remains the truth. Not so with the mind which might or might not admit to being aware that the truth is being skewed.
A big lesson I see in seeking wisdom is this: Bend your ear to wisdom to hear. But also to listen. Hearing is great, but if you don’t listen to the message you hear and process it internally, then you’re not going to get the wisdom in that message. For wisdom to convey its fullest to you, you need to do both. To hear and listen. Then you get the whole message. But that’s not all of it. Until you apply the heart, you can’t understand the whole of the message.
You run that message past the mind, apply logic and reason. But logic and reason, while important, can cloak the truth or obscure nuances in it. The heart knows. So the message must be run through the heart and withstand the truth test, the test for veracity to seek understanding. You might think you understand a message. Might think it’s logical and reasonable, but until it goes through the heart so that the emotional aspects weigh in, the whole of the message hasn’t yet been processed. Until it is, it can’t be understood. Not fully.
So we hear and listen, we process the message through the mind for reason and logic, and then through the heart because truth is the path to understanding. When we consider the physical, emotional and spiritual, then we have engaged the whole of us. With the whole of us engaged, then we are capable of grasping the whole of the message and understanding it.
Working through this, I looked at other translations of the verse. Some resonated and honestly some did not. Some seemed profound and others shallow. Why is that?
I wondered, and pondered on that also. And the little voice inside me stirred. We’re all on different paths for different purposes. We grasp and understand what we need to know when we need to know it.
I’m content with that explanation. We’re unique and universal and we do have different purposes and different perspectives because they’re needed to aid us in defining our distinct purposes. So whether or not something resonates with me is insignificant. What resonates with me is significant to me and my purpose.
For another’s path and purpose, something else might resonate. A different translation. And it might carry an entirely different interpretation. Even a single person who reads the same exact verse at ten, at twenty, at fifty interprets that verse differently. That, I believe, is God talking to us in ways we understand.
For the best message is sincerely lost in translation if the intended person for it doesn’t understand it. So in this, too, the spiritual element reigns supreme. That which is understood can be adopted and embraced wholly. To get there from where we are now requires the spiritual.
A child might sum this verse up in short order. Listen to God. He’s wisest and He’ll make sure you understand His message.
And so the adult and the child get to the same place. The child, with child-like faith, gets there a lot quicker than the adult. I’m sure there’s a basketful of messages in that also…
Some different translations of Proverbs 2:2 follow. (Courtesy of Bible Gateway)
Which of them speaks to you?
Fred St Laurent of Book Fun Network, posted last night that my new release, Down and Dead in Dixie has been nominated for Book of the Month. This is an honor and I’m grateful.
Now the nominees are being voted for, and if you are so inclined, I would appreciate your vote. The voting polls are open and here are your nominees:
TBCN FEBRUARY 2014 FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH
Burning Sky by Lori Benton
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Captured by Moonlight, by Christine Lindsay
A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano
What Once was Lost by Kim Vogel Sawyer
The Dance, The Restoration Series #1 By Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley
Ryan’s Father by June Foster
Dangerous Passage by Lisa Harris
Elusive Hope by MaryLu Tyndall
Sky’s Bridal Train By Margo Hansen
A Miracle of Hope (The Amish Wonder Series) by Ruth Reid
Down and Dead in Dixie by Vicki Hinze
Deep in the Heart by Staci Stalling
Poison Town by Creston Mapes
Thank you, and thanks to Book Fun (the Book Club Network) and to the nominator!