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plains, and tracing the footsteps of a man who had robbed him ;' and for dogs tracking out and tracing their game.? The lxx. employ it in Gen. xliv. 12, for Joseph's steward “searching" for his master's cup among the sacks of his brethren; in 1 Kings XX. 6, for Benhadad's proposed
searching" of Ahab's house, and the houses of his servants, for whatsoever was pleasant in his eyes, &c.; in Jud. vi. 29, to "search" by enquiries, for the purpose of ascertaining who had thrown down the altar of Baal; in 2 Kings x. 23, for Jehu's command to his officers to "search" the house of Baal, to see if there were any of the worshippers of Jehovah among the worshippers of Baal; in Jud. xviii. 2, for the instructions of the children of Dan to five men of their tribe, to spy out the land, and to "search" it; and in 2 Sam. x. 3, for a similar purpose, with respect to a city: while they use it also in Joel i. 7, to “strip,” by uncovering; and in Gen. xxxi. 34, 35, to "search" by feeling In the New Testament it is applied by the Pharisees in John vii. 52, to the "searching” of the Scriptures themselves, with a view of ascertaining whether the Christ of God came out of Galilee or not; in 1 Peter i. 11, to the inspired writers " searching out" the import of the words spoken through them by Jehovah ; and in Rom. viii. 27; Rev. ii. 23, and 1 Cor. ii. 10, to Him, Who "searcheth” the reins and hearts, &c. Hence it means not only to search out and notice the very words of Scripture; following them out in their several connexions elsewhere; so as to trace them out in all their various usages; but to follow this course likewise in our investigation of the entire "
Scriptures of Truth ;” with a view of learning the mind of the Spirit in the Word : in order that we may truly know, and so do, all the will of God.3
1 Hom. Il. xviii. 321.
Hom. Odyss. xix, 436. 3 Matt. xii. 50; John xiii. 17 ; xiv. 15 ; xv. 14.
And in this investigation, it is manifest that there must be in us some pre-requisites, if I might so say, to the right understanding of the Divine Word : for “ the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him : neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” “Canst thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven ; what canst thou do? deeper than Sheol; what canst thou know ?!? “All things,” said Jesus, " are delivered unto Me of My Father : and no one," oùdeis, “knoweth the Son, but the Father ; neither knoweth any one,” tìs, “the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him."3 “ It pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by His grace,” said the Apostle Paul, “to reveal His Son in Me, that I might preach Him among the heathen." We cannot, therefore, read the Divine Word to profit, unless He Who wrote it, open “the eyes of our understanding,” to enable us to do this. “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved the Christ,” Tòv Xplotov, " to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”5
The first pre-requisite, therefore, must of necessity be sincerity of heart and purpose in this search ; which will of course comprehend a real desire, not only to be truly enlightened by the Divine Word, but also to have our hearts conformed to it, and to make it the rule and standard of our life before God. For without this, all our reading and searching will only issue in our greater condemnation.
3 Matt. xi. 27.
11 Cor. ii. 14.
Job. xi. 7, 8.
“ And that servant, which knew his Lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required : and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."'l “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face : should I be enquired of at all by them? Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah ; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth
his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet ; I Jehovah will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from Me through their idols.” For “if I regard iniquity in my heart,” says the Psalmist, “ the Lord will not hear me."'3
Another pre-requisite is diligence in this search ; and the Scriptures themselves frequently enforce such a searching, Thus we read in the Book of Proverbs, “My son, if thou wilt receive My words, and hide My commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding ; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures," i.e., as Poole well observes on this passage, “ with the same unwearied diligence, and earnest desire, and patient expectation under all delays, disappointments, and difficulties, which worldlings use in the purchase of riches, or in digging in mines of silver :"-" then shalt thou understand the fear of Jehovah, and find the knowledge of God. For Jehovah giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous : He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly." Therefore the Psalmist says, “with my whole heart have I sought Thee : 0 let me not wander from Thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” “Teach me, 0 Jehovah, the way of Thy statutes ; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight.” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” “Therefore I love Thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
? Ezek. xiv. 3-5.
1 Luke xii. 47, 48. See also Jer. xlii. 3 Psalm lxvi. 18.
The last pre-requisite I shall mention is humility, or, a deep sense of our own utter unworthiness; with a prayerful waiting upon God in faith and expectation for His teaching and blessing upon us in such searching : without which all the knowledge we may acquire will only puff us up in a vain conceit of ourselves, and of our own attainments. “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing he deceiveth himself.”3 For “knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth," or, “buildeth up."
“ And if
any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know "4_because as yet, he is ignorant of the knowledge of himself. “For who maketh thee to differ from another ? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it”—as if it were
1 Prov. ii. 1-7. 3 Gal. vi. 3.
: Psalm cxix. 10, 11, 33, 34, 35, 105, 127, 128. 4 1 Cor. viii. 1, 2. 51 Cor. iv. 7.
thine own, and thou wert not accountable to God for it? • För God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” For “the meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way.” And then, what follows? “All the paths of Jehovah are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies. For Thy Name's sake, O Jehovah, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. What man is he that feareth Jehovah ? him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The secret of Jehovah is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant. And then it will be with us, as it was with the Psalmist, “Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.”
We have a beautiful instance of how the right kind of hearers and searchers into the Word dealt with it, when it was first presented to them, in the case of Bereans: who “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The word for “searching" here, however, is a different word from that used by our Lord in John v. 39. It is åvakpívw, which is derived from spívo, to divide, separate, make a distinction, come to a decision, and åvá, up: and the compounded word means, to separate, or divide up: hence, to estimate accurately, judge of, sift, come to a right decision. The translators of the A. V. have applied no less than five different meanings to this word, according to the connexion in which it is used. They have translated it by, question, examine, search, discern, judge: and this particular passage really comprehends them all. The word is used of Pilate's examination of our Lord ;4 of the Apostles being examined touching the good done to the impotent man ;5 of Herod's investigation after Peter's delivery from prison ;and of
1 James iv. 6.
· Psalm xxv. 9-14,
3 Psalm cxix. 104.