John T. Willis

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Heart Thinks and Learns--VIII

Gaining information and using that information discreetly and wisely are the ultimate goals of the pursuits of the heart. The Hebrew Bible uses FIVE verbs used with "heart" to suggest the idea of studying, thinking, and learning.

1 and 2. The Hebrew verb darash means "to examine, question," and the Hebrew verb tur means "to seek out, spy out, explore mentally." The author of Ecclesiastes says in 1:13, "I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven." The NRSV translates the Hebrew noun leb as "mind" rather than "heart" because modern English thinking distinguishes between mental and emotional activity. The Bible does not make this distinction. The human heart examines and explores all which happens in life. The same idea appears in Ecclesiastes 2:3: "I searched with my heart [NRSV mind] how to cheer my body," and in Ecclesiastes 7:25: "I turned my heart [NRSV mind] to search out and to seek wisdom and the sum of things." To "search" means to investigate the roots of a matter, and to "explore" means to investigate a subject on all sides. So, "search" and "explore" are clearly synonyms.

3.  The Hebrew verb bur means "to explore in order to explain." One brings to consciousness a thought or an idea or an event. Proverbs 15:14 says:
       The heart [NRSV mind] of one who has understanding seeks knowledge,
              but the mouths of fools feed on folly.
Here, when the heart "seeks," the heart brings out into clearness what is being considered. Thus, the heart studies by inductive and deductive methods so that the heart is comprehensive.

4. The Hebrew verbs bo' means "to enter." Psalm 90:12 says:
            So teach us to count our days
                 that we may gain a wise heart.
Proverbs 2:10 says:
            For wisdom will come into your heart,
                 and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
Unfortunately, modern English thought assumes that teaching, wisdom, and knowledge are mental, intellectual activities, but biblically this is a spiritual, emotional activity.

5. The Hebrew verb qanah means " to get, acquire." Proverbs 15:32 says:
          Those who ignore instruction despise themselves,
                 but those who heed admonition gain heart [NRSV understanding].
The Hebrew noun leb, "heart," is sometimes equivalent to understanding. But understanding is much more than a mental exercise.
     Proverbs 18:15 says:
           An intelligent heart [NRSV mind] acquires knowledge,
                 and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
These texts emphasize that biblically the "heart" is a "studying, learning" organ. Wisdom may enter into the heart, a person can acquire a heart which possesses wisdom, and the heart is equivalent to understanding spiritually.

Share YOUR thoughts and insights and experiences and problems and issues with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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