“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:1-5).
To seek knowledge is to seek God, who is the source of all knowledge (Mal 3:16; James 1:5). These verses lead us to recognize that the wisdom of the Bible is not necessarily to be found on the surface, but requires “digging”. The hiding of Wisdom might at first glance seem counterproductive from God’s point of view, but it serves an important purpose: that which requires some effort to obtain is naturally valued more.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings” (Prov 25:2).
The hidden treasure recalls Christ’s parable of the treasure hidden in a field:
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field” (Matt13:44; cp Job3:21; Isa 45:3; Jer 41:8).
There can be no doubt that men who seek hidden treasure are enthusiastic. Even the laziest of couch potatoes would dig up his whole backyard if he thought bars of gold and silver were buried there. This is the way we should seek for wisdom and knowledge.
God’s wisdom exists, and we must find it, buy it, and get it, for it is of more value than all riches (Prov 4:7;16:16). And Jesus tells us that God’s kingdom is life’s great priority (Matt 6:33), and he illustrated it by telling yet another parable — of a man selling all he has in order to buy a great pearl:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matt13:45,46).
One might ask: why are there two parables (the hid treasure, and the pearl of great price) which make essentially the same point?
Well, it seems that in the first parable, the man stumbles upon the treasure. He was evidently not seeking it at all; he didn’t even know it was to be found. But in the second parable, the merchant has been searching long and hard for the greatest treasure, the greatest “pearl”. He has sifted through and evaluated other pearls; he knows the worth of what he seeks, and he knows immediately when he finds it: ‘Eureka! I have found it!’ ‘This is it — my heart’s desire.’
But, in each case, whether by apparent accident or by design and tireless effort, the man who at last finds the great treasure will do anything, and sell anything, if only he might acquire it.
And so it might be with the knowledge of Christ that leads to eternal life. Never has there been, nor ever shall there be, such a treasure as this. One man may happen upon it, in what looks like mere coincidence (but really isn’t, of course): a leaflet picked up and casually flipped through in an idle moment, a word or two heard at just the right moment. Another man may seek diligently, over a whole lifetime, until he finds the real and satisfying truth of the Bible. Each path is acceptable, and each path has been taken by many, many men and women. The point is that each path leads to the same goal: the “treasure” at the end of the “rainbow” (truly: see Gen 9:13, where the first rainbow signified God’s covenant with mankind).
Obtaining spiritual wisdom isn’t a once-a-week hobby; it is the daily discipline of a lifetime. But in this age of microwave ovens, fast foods, TV ‘sound bites’, reader’s ‘digests’, and numerous ‘for dummies’ books, many people are out of the habit of spending time and energy each day digging into the Bible and learning wisdom from the Lord. Thanks to television, their attention span is brief; thanks to religious entertainment that passes for worship, their spiritual appetite is underdeveloped. It’s no wonder fewer and fewer people take time to learn about God, and more and more people are led astray by distractions along the way.
“Buy the truth and do not sell it” (Prov23:23).
Wisdom is a reward to those who ask and work for it. Our God is a jealous God, Who will not give His riches in exchange for an on-again, off-again, lazy, feeble effort. God will reward serious seekers (Jer 29:13).
Our Lord sought God all night on a mountain top (Luke6:12). And while others slept inGethsemane, he searched for the treasure of God’s favor with tears and bloody sweat (Luke22:39-46).
Everything has a price. What are we prepared to “sell” in order to “buy” the Truth?