It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings to search things out. Proverbs 25, verse 1.
Deceptively hiding what you believe or feel never works in the long run. Do you fully realize that? It’s a tough truth acknowledge, and an even tougher one to practice day by day. We’ve talked before how we each keep secrets. I think each of us likes the idea of having a relationship where there is full disclosure but in my own life I’ve rarely found this to be true, and I haven’t practiced it myself. Most people don’t live like desperate housewives on Wisteria Lane, always moving from deception to deception. Some people do, though, and all of us hide things or shield things from others, even the people we love most. Call it self-preservation, parsing the truth, or saying only what you need to say, I think we all keep secrets of some kind. I sometimes wonder if this isn’t one of the things that grieved God most when He banished Adam and Eve from the Garden. He knew that secrets and disorder were in their future and that they were completely unequipped to handle them without Him.
We can hide no secrets from God. He has the ultimate security clearance. He keeps all secrets and allows only what He believes is best for His kingdom. What’s more, as the creator of all things, isn’t it His privilege to conceal what He wants? Have you ever considered that, if we had full disclosure on all matters, because we aren’t God, maybe our simple minds couldn’t handle it all? Even in the afterlife, when there will be ultimate truth revealed, you and I will still not be God and will still not know all He knows. I expect we will know satisfaction with what we do know, however, and that’ll be more than enough.
God conceals what He does and it’s His place to do so. Why then does the second part of the verse say what it does? Is it a criticism of earthly power, a statement of fact about that power, or is it a faint endorsement of it? Maybe it’s all three; at least that’s how I read it. The glory of kings to seek knowledge of matters in their dominion– and control and power over them – is a warning. It is a warning against personal vanity and that power which comes with position. I think it is also a statement of fact, saying that the commander in chief is who he is and is vested with power that is his alone, including the power of discovery. It is a reality and a truth to be considered. Finally, it’s an endorsement, and maybe a good thing as well because there is an unwritten implication that a righteous ruler exercising his God-given authority will search for the truth, will work to root out what is concealed by men so that he might rule effectively and righteously.
Mind you, none of this is to say we shouldn’t keep things in confidence. Living in honesty means never being afraid to disclose what you think say or do, but it means something else too. There’s no way to build trust between friends if we don’t keep mum on things better left unsaid to others, abiding by requests made in good faith. We share things with God in our thoughts and prayers, and he doesn’t blab them out on the internet. He keeps our confidence, then uses our information in loving trust to better our lives by growing that love. I believe he gives us His model as the model for our lives. He keeps some personal truths quiet, even hidden from others and so should we.
If there is illegality involved, then search your conscience for how to address it; I believe you already know the answer. But for other things, there is no dishonor or misdeed in righteous and loving concealment. Personally, when someone drops hard news on me, I have immediate thoughts and reactions, but to truly discern the right path, I need time and prayer. I need to let the Spirit reveal truth to me as I unpack and process it. The affections I have for my friends deserve this so that nothing is done out of malice or haste. If you love someone, then “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps not record of wrongs.” Thank you Apostle Paul, especially those last three parts. Love knows when to listen and to keep to itself. In that vein, I know many secrets, and while I disclose here things to amplify these Scriptures, I don’t do so to tear others down or to gain petty advantage, and it doesn’t happen out of hurt. I hope you do the same.
And I hope you do it knowing that there is honor in pursuing the truth and doing the right thing. We do indeed want to model the way God acts, namely lovingly, like 1st Corinthians says. It’s a good time to remember something written here a few days ago: freedom is love is truth is life. All those things are found in a wise God because all those things are and are of that wise God. In Him, there is no fear of truth and there is no recoiling at love because He imparts both in every facet of our lives while freeing us from the slavery of our misdeeds…and our deceptions. He is both counselor and confidante of the ages, as well as the final arbiter on the truth of our lives. He and not some other person or king will be the one who judges our lives when we are finally called to account. That’s no secret.