Did you know “understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it” (Prov. 16:22)? When you get understanding from God, it is a source of continual supply, a fountain, a spring of life! It makes so much sense that we are told repeatedly to GET UNDERSTANDING (Prov. 4:5, 7). The scripture even tells us “to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” (Prov. 16:16). Let’s define understanding, and examine why it’s something to make sure you get.
WHAT IS UNDERSTANDING?
Whereas wisdom often gives the “how to” and knowledge often gives the “facts,” understanding is about breaking it down. It is comprehending, grasping the meaning, at a level that you can explain it. It is knowledge and wisdom at another level. In elementary school, students gain knowledge of basic math facts but in high school, they often have to write proofs to demonstrate their understanding and break it down. It’s one thing to say 2+2=4; it’s another to break down why and how 2+2=4. And when you gain the understanding, it will definitely be harder to convince you otherwise.
Understanding in English speaks of what’s UNDER you to STAND on. Understanding strengthens your foundation and gives you substance, so you can stand flat-footed with confidence and certainty. No wonder in the parable of the sower, the devil was able to take the word out of the way side heart who lacked understanding (Matt. 13:4, 19; Mark 4:4, 15; Luke 8:5, 12). Satan stole the Word because the hearer didn’t have understanding! How often does that happen today? We need understanding!
In Old Testament Hebrew, a common word for understanding is biyn (Strong’s H995). The same Hebrew letters are used in Genesis 1:4 when God divided the light from the darkness (Strong’s H996) and are translated in the Bible as BETWEEN. Understanding is about the in-between. It is more than just surface knowledge or an overall summary; understanding is often the product of studying and digging into the details of the Word of God. It is rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
You can drive by a building and generally know it is a house, but understanding gets into the details, the nitty-gritty, and in-between so you can break it down as a four-bedroom house with two full bathrooms, a study nook, and laundry room. Understanding is something that you can get more and more of, so greater understanding of that building breaks it down further to begin to deal with the structure of the house from the dry wall and the paint all the way down to the ingredients of the foundation. Understanding isn’t general knowledge; understanding digs in and gets in-between!
THE MANY BENEFITS
Proverbs 3:13 says, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.” The person who continually gets more and more understanding of God (Jer. 9:23-24) and His Word is happy! God is our reward (Gen. 15:1) and His Word is our treasure (Psa. 119:72, 162), so the benefits are endless the more we dig into it, break it down, get it in our hearts, and apply it in our lives!
With understanding we can dive deep into the things of God, and know more than what’s on the surface. We begin to grasp what God is doing, how He’s doing it, and a long-term perspective based on what He’s already written. The psalmist Asaph found himself discouraged in Psalm 73 when he saw the prosperity of the wicked. He was envious at the foolish, and wondered if doing right was in vain. It was all too much for him UNTIL he got understanding. He wrote, “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end” (Psa. 73:16-17). Whereas his sight, logic, and emotions left him discouraged, when Asaph went into the house of God and got UNDERSTANDING he could see how the story ends and his faith was built for the middle! Understanding gives you stability so you don’t have to fall based on what you feel or to every wind of doctrine! Understanding helps you to hold on no matter what because digging into God’s Word you’ll start to see God’s patterns and how the pieces fit together!
Proverbs 4:7 says it perfectly: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” Make sure as you learn, as you gain wisdom and knowledge, you ask God to break it down to you, dig into His written word, and get into His house and be fed (Jer. 3:15) so you can go a step further and GET understanding. You’ll be happy you did.
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