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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 30

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-33



Some hold that Agur is another name for Solomon. This opinion is also upheld by the Talmud, which speaks of six names which belonged to the King: Solomon, Jedidiah, Koheleth, Son of Jakeh, Agur and Lemuel. But this opinion cannot be verified, nor do we know who Agur the son of Jakeh was. The Septuagint and the Vulgate have translated the Hebrew words and formed a sentence out of them. “Agur” means “assembler” and Jakeh has the meaning of “pious,” so that some think that Agur means an unknown godly man who gathered these sayings and they were embodied in this book. We leave the name as it is, and believe that Agur, the son of Jakeh, is the name of the author of this chapter. “Whoever Agur was, he had a certain marked individuality; he combines meditation on lofty questions of theology with a sound theory of practical life. He was able to give valuable admonitions about conduct. But his characteristic delight was “to group together in quatrains visible illustrations of selected qualities or ideas” (R.F. Horton). The opening verse also tells us that he spoke to Ithiel (God with me) and Ucal (I shall be able). The Revised Version has a marginal reading instead of the two names Ithiel and Ucal: “I have wearied myself, O God. I have wearied myself O God, and am consumed.” We do not adopt this.

The structure of the chapter itself is different from the other chapters in this book. It begins with a prologue, containing his confession, in which he shows a spirit of deep abasement and acknowledgment of his own ignorance Proverbs 30:2-33 ).

This is followed by five questions concerning creation and the Creator and His Son Proverbs 30:4 .

The questions are answered by God’s revelation. This is indicated in the next two verses Proverbs 30:5 and Proverbs 30:6 .

Next comes a prayer by Agur the son of Jakeh Proverbs 30:7-33 ).

One proverb follows next in the tenth verse. After that come the so-called “quatrains,” six groups of proverbs each consisting of four things. Between the second and third group a single proverb is inserted Proverbs 30:17 and at the close of the chapter stands another proverb.

In the prologue he takes the low place, and in his confession manifests the deepest humility, with no taint of pride, thus illustrating the true humility enjoined in the proverbs of Solomon. Because he confessed that he had no understanding nor knowledge of the holy, the Lord gave him all what he lacked.

The questions he asks are concerning the Creator. “Who is He that hath ascended up into heaven and descended? Who hath gathered the wind in His fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is His Name, and what is His Son’s Name, if thou canst tell?” He knows there is a Creator. He cannot question the eternal power and Godhead, which alone can account for this ordered universe. He has not, like many thinkers, ancient and modern, dropped a plummet down the broad deep universe, and cried, No God. He knows there is a God; there must be an intelligence abled to conceive, coupled with power able to release this mighty mechanism. But Who is it? What is His Name or His Son’s Name? Here are the footsteps of the Creator; but where is the Creator Himself? (Expositor’s Bible) By searching God cannot be found out; the fullest answer is given in the New Testament. We are reminded of John 3:13 . We know Him who has ascended, because He descended from heaven; Who is the Lord and Creator of all, now in God’s presence as the glorified man, and some day He who ascended into heaven will descend again.

That in the next place the Word of God is mentioned, that is the written revelation of God, is not without meaning. Man needs this revelation to know the Lord, and have the question answered which human speculation and scientific research can never answer. On account of the statement “add thou not unto His words” critics have surmised that the canon of the Old Testament must have been completed when this chapter was written. They have put the date long after the exile. But such a conclusion is unwarranted. God had commanded long before that nothing should be added to His words Deuteronomy 4:22 ). The prayer of Agur in Proverbs 30:7-9 is closely linked with the foregoing verses. He prays for deliverance from vanity and lies, that he may have a true and honest heart, so necessary for the reception of the truth of God; then he prays to have neither poverty nor riches. Poverty might induce to steal and take the name of God in vain, then His Word would be rejected by him; and riches would mean the same, as it might lead him to say, Who is the Lord?

The proverb in the form of a command in Proverbs 30:10 is isolated from the trend of thought in this chapter. The first quatrain comes next in Proverbs 30:11-14 . Four times the word generation is used, describing the classes of people frequently mentioned in the preceding chapters of proverbs. Then follow four things which are insatiable. The climax is reached gradually. The horseleach (or vampire) has two daughters by name of “Give.” Even so is the poor heart of man; and there are three and four things of the same character; the unseen regions into which disembodied spirits are going day after day, year after year; the barren womb; the earth upon which rain descends yet is never filled with water, and the fourth thing, the fire, which never saith, it is enough, which consumes till nothing is left. These unsatiable things mentioned are symbolical of the condition of the natural man, always taking in yet always, restless and never satisfied. Then there are four things inscrutable: The way of the eagle in the air; the way of the serpent on a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the ocean; and the way of a man with a maid Proverbs 30:18-33 ).

Four disquieting things are given in Proverbs 30:21-23 . In Proverbs 30:24-28 the four little things, yet wise, are pictured. They are the ants, the conies, the locusts and the lizard (not spider as in the A.V.). Here are lessons for man: the sluggard, the fool, the evil man, and other characters touched upon in proverbs are put to shame by the sagacity of these little things. Four graceful things conclude these sayings: A lion, a greyhound, an he-goat and a king, against whom there is no rising up. So may the righteous man act. Bold as a lion, swift as the greyhound to carry out the Lord’s will in the Lord’s service, climbing the steeps like the he-goat, and always victorious like a king undefeated. We see that these statements of Agur have a definite bearing upon the entire book of Proverbs inasmuch as they restate and illustrate the different characters, such as the ungodly, the unwise, the fool, the sluggard, the proud, the righteous, the godly, the humble, etc., mentioned in the book. Agur’s message ends with a word of counsel to exercise self-restraint.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Proverbs 30". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/proverbs-30.html. 1913-1922.
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