God: The World’s Greatest Concealment Artist (Prov. 25:2)
Most often theology is written in the third person—about God. But for theology to become doxology, it must shift to the second person—You. I try to model that movement in this fourth installment on the doctrine of God in Proverbs.
Proverbs 25:2 has the fourth occurrence of “God” (here Elohim) in Proverbs.
Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
The ‘glory’ of God has multiple senses in Scripture. The sense here, since it is contrastively paralleled with “the glory of kings,” is “honor, acknowledgement of elevated status.” People honor what they admire. What brings honor to God is His concealment of matters because it displays his the unique excellence of His wisdom.
God conceals matters. Father, You hide things. You cover things. You hide truth from the unbelieving (cf. Isa. 6:9-10; Mark 4:11-12). You cover in the simple guise of a leaf multi-faceted machinery that uses light for energy, that processes carbon dioxide into oxygen. You hide in the apparent disorder of nature, so many organic and inorganic interrelationships, dependencies, processes, production vehicles, and more that our mind is boggled, our intellects staggered.
God reveals that He conceals. You are a person who enjoys being sought after, you enjoy creating a challenge that displays your infinite capacity for ingenuity, and that elicits admiration from those who inch by inch, layer by layer, uncover the profundity of your wisdom. Your glory in concealment also correlates to your antipathy for pride. You resist the proud and so shroud the way to your glorious perfections with difficulties that can only be overcome by humility. Rationalistic pride will stumble and declare the search impossible, the end a fable, a delusion of weak minds.
You also teach through this verse that you want your works to be discovered, but you enjoy the hunt. The more diffficult the search persisted in, the more valued its object must be. This is an open invitation to exploration. Scripture welcomes literary, linguistic, semantic, syntactic, pragmatic, discourse, rhetorical, and genre exploration. Take a hermeneutics course and discover the vast, often hidden, complexity of God’s designs with literature. Take a linguistics course and be amazed at the multi-functionality that lurks below the surface of language. Take a science course and be overwhelmed that God created a world which is filled with “simple” creatures and systems that are simultaneously complex, flexible, functional, and beautiful. Take a course in theology, the queen of the sciences, and confront quickly the limitations of human understanding, the dimness of your own insight into divine wisdom.
God’s glory is seen in the challenge to dis-cover how and why things work. Father, you are glorified in concealing. It highlights your wisdom, understanding, complexity, and power. The unique excellence of your mind and capacities shine brightly in the universe. The complexity, flexibility, and practicality of your works whether in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, physiology, zoology, or astronomy are mind-boggling, and we continue to plumb their depths without sounding the bottom.
God, You are magnificent, incomparable, and worthy of all worship. I admire the man who utilizes God’s gracious gifts to persevere in discovering God’s glory. I worship You, the glorious God who speaks and wonders instantly come into being which take decades and centuries to be but partially understood.
For a deeper look at one facet of God's glory in concealing matters, see Greg Boyd's The Divine Wisdom of Obscurity, JETS 28.2 (1985): 195-204.