The heart of him that has understanding seeks knowledge: but the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
The desire of knowledge is in some sense natural to us all; and it is the duty of us all to cherish that desire; to direct it to proper objects; and to keep it within due bounds. Knowledge is necessary. Conscience may dictate to us that things are right or wrong, but she may be mistaken in her decisions, unless she call in reason to her assistance; for a clear knowledge of morality cannot be obtained without serious consideration and the exercise of our intellectual faculties; nor can the revealed will of God be understood without application of mind. We at first receive the knowledge of things by perception, and then improve it by reflection. The general desire of knowledge is manifested very soon; but it varies in strength. It is meet that there should be men of smaller as well as of larger capacities, that they may be fitted for different ways of life; and this also makes it expedient that there should be various degrees of this propensity toward knowledge. The pleasure of any creature consists in having objects suitable to his faculties. In Scripture, ignorance is styled darkness, which is disagreeable; and truth is called light, which it is pleasant to behold. The enlargement of knowledge will be no small part of the satisfaction which the good will enjoy in a future and better state. Our natural desire of knowledge may be misused, as well as the other inclinations and passions of the human mind. It may be too little; it may be too great; it may be applied to wrong objects. Some persons do not desire knowledge as much as they ought. Some persons mind things less considerable more than those of greater moment. In the Scriptures themselves, all things are not of the same importance. Some things there are which we ought not to know; and a vain curiosity after them constitutes another abuse of our natural desire of knowledge. Sin should only be known as the rocks at sea, that it may be avoided. They also are inexcusable who in speculative points of religion rashly and proudly dogmatise about things which they cannot comprehend. Our understanding is confined within small bounds, and reason and Scripture tell us that no man by searching can find out the Almighty to perfection. Another abuse of our love of knowledge is an impetuous desire of extending it to too many objects; which is the case of some persons who have had a liberal education. Most errors arise from laziness, or rash judgments, or prejudice, or worldly interest, or some favourite passion. Intemperate desire of knowledge, and sometimes of applause or of profit, puts persons upon studies for which they have no genius or capacity.
(J. Jortin, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.