Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Proverbs 9:9-10)
Until Galileo’s time, philosophers assumed that heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones. They believed this because earlier thinkers had believed it. The idea sounds logical enough, but nobody had ever taken the trouble to test it with real objects. Galileo’s experiments showed that objects dropped from a height fall at the same rate regardless of their weight. His finding came through insight, when he stepped outside the conventional thinking of previous generations.
It was insight by which Isaac Newton arrived at the first law of motion: that a moving object will continue in the same direction and speed until acted upon by an outside force. Before Newton’s time physicists thought that a moving object’s innate tendency was to come to rest. Newton showed this wasn’t so; the object stops only when something else stops it. His theory of inertia broke through conventional thinking.
Galileo and Newton, and others such as Albert Einstein, arrived at new understandings of the nature of the universe by pushing past previous perimeters of thought. Since God is the Creator of the universe, their insights may be considered “the knowledge of the Holy One,” whether or not these thinkers professed a belief in the Creator — as many did.
But insight isn’t limited to the physical; it allows us to penetrate social interactions as well. By insight we come to understand how our actions influence, and are influenced by, those of others. Norbert Wiener developed the theory of cybernetics, the idea that events are controlled by an information loop that includes more than the acting instrument. When we put our car on cruise control, its speed is governed by a feedback loop that includes not only the amount of fuel injected but also the engine’s revolutions-per-minute, the cruise control setting, and any other factors that come into play. The same principle applies to our relationships with others. How people act toward us depends, in part, on how we behave toward them in a constant circle of feedback. If that circle is dysfunctional, spiraling downward toward dishonest dealings and ruptured relationships, insight allows us to break free of the conventional pattern and introduce new information into the cybernetic loop so that healing can begin. Jesus put the principle this way: “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” (Matthew 7:2).
The Bible has another word for insight; sometimes it calls it revelation. By thinking that transcended the world of the senses, Scripture’s inspired writers came to a new understanding of God and His ways that defied the conventions of their time. By the Spirit of God the same revelation is available to us. It isn’t the revelation of new truth, but — as Kenneth Copeland reminds us — it’s insight into truths that have always been present in the Word of God. We’ve just never seen them before.