Bible Study

The Quest to Know More

Michael Beck

The initial “itch” to know, if it is not checked, can propel us to seek fuller satisfaction for our desire to know. An unlawful catering to this desire to know is what is called the “lust of the eyes.”

The “lust of the eyes” begins with an itch to know something in a fuller way.

What we see (or hear) can cause agitation in our soul.

…And from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. (2 Samuel 11:2)

Agitate > disturb > from Latin agitationem “motion, agitation,” from past participle stem of agitare “move to and fro,” frequentative of agere in its sense of “to drive”

What happens when agitation arises in our soul based on what we see or hear?

Agitation has the power to set us in motion; it can drive us forward; it opens us up to the possibilities of further action and fuller investigation.

And David sent and enquiredafter the woman. (2 Samuel 11:3)

The “lust of the eyes” is a corruption of man’s desire to know.

When agitation arises in our soul we desire to resolve the disturbance and have our soul find a place of rest or quiet. To that end we are driven to “take action.”Agitation can not only arise in our soul because we behold something beautiful; it can also arise when we see (or hear of) something ugly or out of order.

And the king said unto Cushi, Is the young man Absalom safe? And Cushi answered, The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is.
And the king was muchmoved,and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son! (2 Samuel 18:32,33)

We can be agitated or moved inside with a various emotions (i.e., anger, fear, sorrow, hatred, disgust, etc.) when we see (or hear of) something we deem to be off or wrong. Our soul “trembles” and is disturbed. It is not “still.” We are what we call “upset.

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. (Psalm 4:4)
stand in awe > Hebrew – ragaz

KJV – tremble 12, move 7, rage 5, shake 3, disquiet 3, troubled 3, quake 2, afraid 1, misc 5; 41

– tremble, quake, rage, quiver, be agitated, be excited, be perturbed

Agitation of all sorts in this life is inescapable. Every man’s life is full of it.

Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble [Heb. rogez.] (Job 14:1)

The agitation we feel tends to automatically get us moving in the direction of resolution (i.e., “discovering the whole picture,” solving the puzzle, getting to the bottom of an issue, having things restored to order, etc.). We wish to move from a place of “darkness” to a place of “light;” from a place of ignorance to a place knowing.

Man’s desire to solve or resolve things is connected to his natural desire to know. He feels discomfort in a state of wonder. He wants things “cleared up” and clarified. He is bothered when he is left in the dark or things are left a mess. His eye yearns for beauty, light, and order. Outer disorder prompts inner disharmony.

“All men by nature desire to know.” – Aristotle

“Philosophy begins in wonder.” – Plato

“It was their wonder, astonishment, that first led men to philosophize and still leads them.” – Aristotle

Perplexity (aporia) produces distress (agitation.)

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring (Luke 21:25)

Uncertainty or doubt is likened to an agitated wave on an unsettled sea.

For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:6)

Uncertain = unsure, lacking knowledge

Perplexity can cause us distress because we have unanswered questions as to where things stand.

I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for Istand in doubtof you. (Galatians 4:20)

God provides us with spiritual resources to deal with the agitation that comes with perplexity.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we areperplexed,but not indespair (2 Corinthians 4:8)

In times of trial when we are distressed and disturbed and don’t know what to do we are told to ask God for wisdom.

If any of you lack wisdom,let him ask of God,that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

David and his men became extremely agitated when they returned to Ziklag and discovered that their women and children were gone.

And it came to pass, when David and his men were come to Ziklag on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the south, and Ziklag, and smitten Ziklag, and burned it with fire;
And had taken the women captives, that were therein: they slew not any, either great or small, but carried them away, and went on their way.
So David and his men came to the city, and, behold, it was burned with fire; and their wives, and their sons, and their daughters, were taken captives.
Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep.
And David’s two wives were taken captives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite.
And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:1-6)

Our soul is disturbed when our eyes fail to see what they would like to see.

The question we should ask of the Lord at such a time should be: Do I proceed down the path toward fuller knowledge (“Do I pursue) or do I stop (“Do I forbear”)?

“Shall I pursue”?

And David enquired at the Lord,saying, Shall Ipursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all. (1 Samuel 30:8)

It was common practice for the kings of Israel to inquire of the Lord through the prophets whether they should go forward in their battles plans or desist.

Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. (1 Kings 22:6)

forbear > Hebrew – chadal

KJV – cease 20, forbear 16, leave 5, left off 5, let…alone 2, forbare 1, endeth 1, failed 1, forborn 1, forsake 1, rest 1, unoccupied 1, wanteth 1

– to stop, cease, desist, forego, cease to be, leave undone, forbear, come to an end, leave off

4 Possibilities in Times of AGITATION & WONDER

1.) A BAD Pursuit of FULLER Knowledge

We can proceed down a path which the Lord warns us not to proceed down in order to get a fuller knowledge of something the Lord does not want us to possess.

Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. (1 Samuel 28:7)

Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind (Colossians 2:18)

2.) A GOOD Pursuit of FULLER Knowledge

There are things that God that wants us to search out; and part of our call and duty to investigate.

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;
Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
For the LORD 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. (Proverbs 2:3-7)

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2)

There is a good, necessary, and lawful inquiry that results in right judgment and justice.

If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
Then shalt thouenquire,andmake search,and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;
Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. (Deuteronomy 13:12-15)

Sometimes, we NEED to know more.

3.) A BAD Stop to FULLER Knowledge

Job’s friends wanted him to give up wanting to get to the bottom of the mystery of his situation and accept their faulty explanation, but he would not until God put his heart at rest.
Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters. (Job 33:13)

Part of Job’s righteousness involved his willingness to investigate the causes of the problems of others.

I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out. (Job 29:16)

The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it. (Proverbs 29:7)

A lack of interest can lead to a lack of knowledge. We can forbear to know something when we should have more of a care or concern to know more.

If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
If thou sayest, Behold,we knew it not;doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? (Proverbs 24:11,12)

My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:
So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:13,14)

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. (Proverbs 18:13)

4.) A GOOD Stop to FULLER Knowledge

For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, andsimple concerning evil. (Romans 16:19)

We give God honor when we deny the lust of the eyes. The Holy Spirit is faithful to check us when the does not want us to satisfy an “itch” to know more. “Things too high” for us are things that God forbids us to investigate further. We honor God when we do not “exercise ourselves” in such matters, and our soul is “quieted” even without gaining more knowledge.

LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.

Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. (Psalm 131:1,2)

Spiritual discernment is needed to know whether to proceed or stop in the pursuit of knowledge.

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:9-11)

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.