Bread – Knowledge

February 22, 2017

Psalm 53

Have those who work evil no knowledge, who …do not call upon God?”  Ps. 53:4

The NASB translations says it this way, “Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge…?”  I like the “workers of wickedness” because it rhymes.  But “work evil” has the same meaning.

This one line is full of more meaning than we can imagine.

First, what is wickedness?  Well, it turns out that there are 12 Hebrew words which stand for various kinds and demonstrations of sin, sin being multi-faceted and everywhere.  The word used here for “wickedness” is one of the major Hebrew words for sin, often translated “iniquity.”  According to the lexical aid to the Old Testament contained within the  Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible (NASB, Zhodiates, Ed., AMG Publishers 1990), the word means “vanity, breath, vainness, nothingness, falseness, falsehood, idol, idolatry, wickedness, sin, sorrow, distress, hardship, toil – there are two aspects to the primary meaning of the word: (a) emphasis upon trouble which moves onward to wickedness; (b) emptiness which results in idolatry…The word focuses on the planning and expression of deception, pointing more to the consequences of sin.”

To summarize this definition, it seems like the wickedness which is being talked about is the kind of action which occurs (a) from emptiness, (b) which causes a chasing after idols, (c) which works a deception, (d) which results in turmoil and sorrow, (e) which results in an outworking of evil in the world.  Isn’t it interesting that the word “wickedness” has as its foundation an emptiness which can only be filled with God, and yet the person has “no knowledge” because they do not call upon God in their distress.

So, now that we have looked at what “wickedness” is, what is the “knowledge” which they apparently do not have?

Well, it turns out that the kind of knowledge which is being referenced is “…the various types of knowledge which are gained through the senses.”  [Hebrew-Greek Study Bible].

Since our senses are sight, sound, touch, and smell, one might say that the knowledge being referenced is that knowledge which we can discover for ourselves, what we can observe.  One might call this scientific knowledge or demonstrable knowledge.  It is what we learn in books.  So, in a sense, the question is “Have the workers of wickedness no knowledge of science…?”  This sounds odd because, in today’s world, the knowledge of science is equated with the understanding that there is no God, no creation.  However, the existence of God is proclaimed by what is observable in science, if we have but eyes to see and ears to hear.

But the Hebrew word used as “knowledge” here can also refer to the knowledge which comes from relationship.  This same word is used for sexual encounters, rape, homosexuality, and relationship to God and idols.  This relationship, however, arises from knowledge which arises from the senses.  It arises from what we can observe.

Another way of asking this same question, as is asked in our reading of Psalm 53, is this – “Have those who work evil no knowledge of God’s creation, of His presence, of His reality?”  And the short answer is that they do have knowledge (from the senses, of the existence of God as seen through His revelation of Himself in creation), but it is useless to them because their eyes have not been opened by the sovereign act of God.

So, in a sense this is a trick question.  We who do evil have knowledge without knowing, we have discernment without wisdom, we have relationships without connection … why, because for whatever reason God has not revealed Himself to us.  Those who work evil see creation but they do not see the Creator because it is God who provides the link between the two.  Everything is apparent to those who do evil, but they do not understand what they see.

When we ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we became like God in our own understanding but we did not become God.  Our knowledge from the senses falls short; it is the supernatural knowledge provided by God in His sovereign time and way which provides us the link between our physical reality and our spiritual reality.

And so we pray, “Come Holy Spirit and open the eyes of those who cannot see so that they knowledge they have naturally will be enhanced with the knowledge they receive supernaturally so that they will have knowledge of You and will have the ability and desire to call upon You and know You.  Amen.”


© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.









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