“He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?”
We engage in the act of knowing every waking moment of every single day. Knowing things is as common to our everyday experience as breathing. Our continued and repeated experience in learning and knowing things sometimes obscures the fact that knowledge is really a mysterious and wonderful thing. Philosophers down through the ages have spilled an ocean of ink writing about knowledge, its nature, its limits, and how to acquire it. Some of their pontifications map onto reality while some fall very wide of the mark. According to the usual and generally agreed upon definition, knowledge is justified, true belief. As Christians we can live with this definition. At the end of the day, however, there is no way to account for man’s ability to know things apart from God’s enablement. As today’s verse passage reminds us, it is God Who teaches man knowledge. Consider beliefs, for instance. These are strange things indeed. Beliefs are examples of intentional states of consciousness, that is, object-directed thinking. A belief is a thought about something or of something. This goes way beyond what a physical brain-state could do. Physical objects and chemical reactions, even reactions in a brain, simply do not stand in such relations. Beliefs must be more than long standing neural events in physical brains. What’s more, beliefs have truth values to them; beliefs are either true or false. Again, beliefs cannot be simply neural firing patterns in physical brains; how can purely electro-chemical reactions be true or false? Remember that knowledge is justified true belief, but according to what criteria are we to determine if a belief is justified? Clearly, we need an objective and prescriptive standard to determine this. Such a standard, however, is completely inexplicable apart from God. Knowledge is mysterious and instructive in other ways. In the knowing transaction we see three distinct though inseparable entities: the one who knows, the thing known, and the knowledge itself. Here in the knowing transaction we see a kind of trinity, directing us to the Blessed Triune God of the Bible Who is the source of all knowledge. This leads us to consider a very special kind of knowledge, namely, loving, relational knowledge between persons. This is what God desires of us, that we would enter into that kind of relationship with Him. Our Lord’s sacrifice was the high price that was paid to make this possible (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; 1 John 4:14). “If any man love God,” wrote Paul, “the same is known of him” (1 Corinthians 8:3, cf. Galatians 4:9). Our Lord knows His sheep and we know Him (John 10:14, 27). May our Good Shepherd guide us into greater depths of knowledge, especially in our knowledge of Him (Philippians 3:10; 1 John 5:20).