One interpretation; many applications.
Solomon, the author of the proverb, was a king, as was Hezekiah, whose men transcribed the proverbs of Solomon which are contained in our English chapters 25-29.
The very nature of a proverb is to express a general truth of wide applicability in a pithy and memorable format.
The focus of the book of Proverbs is God, the creator of all things, particularly wisdom:
"The LORD possessed me at the
beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
From everlasting I was
From the beginning, from the
earliest times of the earth" (8:23-24, NASB Updated, NASB format; cf. 3:19-20).
For the truly wise person, the beginning of wisdom/knowledge is the fear of the LORD (1:7a). By contrast, the foolish person despises words of wisdom and instruction (1:7b), preferring--by contrast--to suss things out on his own, autonomously.
There is no fear of God before the eyes of the fool. To the fool, the very idea of searching out a matter with reverence for the God who concealed the matter in the first place, is foolishness. There are so many "apps" for this theme (e.g., Romans 1:18 ff., esp. v.21, and 1 Corinthians 1:18 ff.), but the psalmist kind of summarizes the fool's attitude in another stanza of Hebrew poetry:
"The fool hath said in his heart,
'There is no God.'
They are corrupt,
they have done abominable works,
there is none that doeth good" (14:1; cf. 53:1).
The psalmist is not talking about an atheist in this verse; rather, he is underscoring the proud autonomy of the fool. Biblically speaking, a fool is by definition a morally bankrupt--or amoral--person who says in his heart:
"There is no God for me!"
In other words, the fool exchanges the glory of the one true God for lesser gods, those of his own making.
- The Scripture is replete with references to God's glory, which can be defined as "the outshining of the presence of God." God's glory is, in a sense, his reputation and renown in the world. God's glory is enhanced by what theologians call general- and special revelation.
[General revelation:] "The heavens are telling of
the glory of God,
And their expanse is
declaring the work of His
hands" (Psalm 19:1)
[Special revelation:] "The law of the LORD is
perfect, restoring the
The testimony of the LORD is
sure, making wise the
simple" (ibid., v.7).
- There is also a glory of man, who is created in the image of God (see, for example, Psalm 8:3-8, esp. v.5). A king, who is to be both wise and an exemplar of godly virtues to his subjects, finds his glory in searching out the wisdom of God. Solomon was one such exemplar, even though he did not end well (see 1 Kings 11:4).
". . . the Preacher [i.e., Solomon] also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, searched out and arranged many proverbs" (Ecclesiastes 12:9 ff.; my emphasis).
Interpretation "A" Is Looking Better and Better
While the truth of "The heavens are telling the glory of God" would seem to contradict the truth of the proverb in question that the glory of God is to conceal a matter, there is in fact no contradiction. The glory of God may be "plain" to those who have eyes to see, but to the fool (as defined in Proverbs), God's glory is anything but plain!
Sinful man suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), whereas a king, if he is truly wise, searches out the truth, which is his glory. In the person of King Solomon, wisdom became a thing of renown, another aspect of glory.
"So King Solomon became greater than all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart" (1 Kings 10:23-24 NASB Undated).
Let Us Hear the Conclusion of the Matter
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,
But the glory of kings is to search out a matter (Prov. 25:2, NASB).
God wants to be found out. By the same token, however, God wants his critters to search for him with all their heart. When they do, he assures us he will be found.
"'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart'" (Jeremiah 29:13 NAS, my emphasis).