Tuesday, January 19, 2021

What is Understanding

“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,  “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.  Forsake foolishness and live and go in the way of understanding. – Proverbs 9:4-6

Wisdom is spoken of as a woman in the Bible.  In fact, in Greek, the word for wisdom is Sophia, a popular female name.  In this passage, Wisdom has prepared a table, and has sent young women to invite in those that need wisdom.  They speak in the passage above.

But there’s a difference in how the word “Understanding” is used.  Our Bibles have translated it into the same word, but in the Hebrew it is actually two different words.

In the passage “as for him to lacks UNDERSTANDING” the Hebrew word ‘leb’ is used (Strongs H3820). Here is its definition:

·         inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding

·         inner part, midst

·         midst (of things)

·         heart (of man)

·         soul, heart (of man)

·         mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory

·         inclination, resolution, determination (of will)

·         conscience

·         heart (of moral character)

·         as seat of appetites

·         as seat of emotions and passions

·         as seat of courage


In short, it speaks of the heart. If you look at the various parts of the definition, you can understand what the person without understanding is one with the weakest of all these.  It’s a weakness of mind.  It’s a weakness of control over appetites, emotions and passions.  It lacks knowledge, reflection, determination, and a good conscience. 

In the last of the passage above where Wisdom says “and live and go in the way of understanding”, the Hebrew word is ‘biynah’ (Strongs H998).  Its definition is:

·         understanding, discernment

·         act

·         faculty

·         object

·         personified

Biynah is focused on the use of wisdom, wisdom applied.  It’s no longer just in the mind, it’s a way of life.  A man or woman with wisdom uses the knowledge they have received.

Here’s an example.  If I know there’s a police officer watching traffic at the intersection of 139 South and 68/80, and I choose to take my chances and go 80 miles an hour through there, my wisdom about the situation has not been deployed.  I’m without understanding.  Head knowledge is as useless as an unread book on a bookshelf.  If you don’t apply it – it’s wasted. 

And that is why understanding is so important.  True understanding is applying wisdom to your life.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. “ – Proverbs 4:7

"And when thou hast learned all within thy reach, know that thou knowest but little of the manifold wisdom of God. Let what thou hast learned humble thee, by showing thee how very little thou dost know. " - Adam Clarke

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