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WORDS OF AGUR
Verse 1 introduces the words of Agur (meaning gatherer) the son of Jakeh (meaning obedient or pious) and indicates these words were addressed to Ithiel and Ucal. Ithiel means "God with me." Ucal means "strong" or "zealous." Beyond this the only information on these men is what can be gleaned from Agur’s words and the significance of the names.
Agur’s Sense of Inadequacy
Verses 2-3 acknowledge Agur’s sense of inadequacy as he ponders the greatness of God who created the universe his eyes and senses beheld. As he reflected upon the many aspects of divine wisdom and power he could see manifested daily, Agur felt that compared to the greatness of God, he had no wisdom or knowledge, that he was brutish (stupid). Agur was truly a humble man who appreciated the greatness of God, Proverbs 16:19; Proverbs 22:4; Proverbs 29:23; Isaiah 57:15.
Agur’s Conviction On What God Could Do
Verse 4 reveals that though Agur was conscious of his inadequacy, he had learned of things that only God could accomplish. His questions in Vs. 4 appear to ask who but God or His son hath ascended, gathered the wind, bound the waters, etc. CIF Job 38:4-11. of which Agur may have had knowledge.
Agur’s Praise of God’s Word
Verses 5 and 6 reveal Agur’s great regard for God’s Word of which he had some knowledge. He affirms that every word is pure and can be trusted. It is the Word of the Almighty, the shield to them that put their trust in Him, Psalms 19:7-8; Isaiah 40:8; Job 23:12; Psalms 119:9; Romans 1:16; 1 John 5:13.
Verse 6 also warns against adding to or altering the Word, an offense for which there is a severe penalty, Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19.
Verses 7-9 describe the things for which Agur prayed, revealing that his chief desire was to live in a manner that would honor and glorify God:
1) He prayed for removal of vanity and lies that would degrade his character and hinder his influence for the LORD.
2) He asked that he not be granted riches lest he become self-sufficient and not be aware of his need of the LORD, Ecclesiastes 4:6.
3) He asked that he be spared poverty lest he become embittered against God and steal.
4) In effect, ,he asked that God supply such needs as would permit him to best serve and honor the LORD.
Slander of the Underprivileged
Verse 10 warns against slander or accusations which arouse an employer’s suspicions of a servant or employee. An accusation not known to be true can cause great harm, for which the accuser is responsible.
NOTE: The following verses Proverbs 30:11-31 (except 17 and 20) deal with various subjects in series of four.
Four Evil Generations
Verse 11 reproves children who are disobedient and disrespectful of parents. Such violate Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1-3, and forfeit the promise of long life. Parents who fail to teach their children as commanded by Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and Ephesians 6:4 will be judged.
Verse 12 rebukes the self-righteous who boast of their own goodness, rejecting the truth that men are cleansed of their sin and filthiness only by trust in the LORD, Luke 18:11; Isaiah 59:3; Hebrews 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 7:14.
Verse 13 condemns those who are lifted up with pride and haughtiness, who think themselves too wise to believe the Bible or need anything they cannot provide, Proverbs 16:18; Proverbs 21:4; Proverbs 26:12; 2 Chronicles 26:16; Psalms 12:3-4; Isaiah 13:11; 1 John 2:16; Luke 18:11; Revelation 3:17.
Verse 14 identifies those who defraud, oppress or physically harm the poor. For such, judgment is sure, Proverbs 14:31; Psalms 12:5; Ecclesiastes 5:8; Isaiah 13:11; Isaiah 26:21; Amos 8:4-7.
The Insatiable Four
Verse 15, using the blood-sucking horseleach to illustrate, introduces in verse 16 four things that are never satisfied. The horseleach was abundant in Palestine and was noted for its- insatiable appetite for blood.
Verse 16 lists the four things never satisfied as (1) the grave which is never filled because death continues, Proverbs 27:20; Romans 5:12; (2) the barren womb because it had never borne children, the foremost desire of women in Agur’s time, Psalms 127:3; Psalms 128:3; (3) the earth, which without sufficient water is never satisfactory, Numbers 20:2-4; 2 Kings 3:9; Isaiah 1:30; Jeremiah 14:3-4; Jeremiah 17:6; and (4) the fire which burns all the more as it is fed.
Judgement Upon Children Who Despise Parents
Verse 17 emphasizes the retribution that will eventually come upon the young who despise their parents. The language is figurative, but it will come in the manner God deems best, Proverbs 20:20; Genesis 9:22; Leviticus 20:9; Exodus 21:17. (See also comment on Proverbs 30:11.)
Four Things Inexplicable
Verses 18-19 cite four things too wonderful for Agur to understand:
1) The ability of the eagle to soar high in the air for long periods without apparent effort.
2) The skill of the serpent to glide over a rock surface with speed and grace though it has no legs or arms.
3) The power of a sailing ship to travel across the sea to a certain destination without a marked course and with no apparent motive force but the changeable wind.
4) the mysterious direction that causes a certain man and a certain woman to choose each other.
The lesson here seems to be that things inexplicable to men are known to God and may be mastered by men who seek and submit to His will, Proverbs 16:7; Proverbs 20:24; Deuteronomy 32:11-12; 2 Kings 3:11; Psalms 25:5; Psalms 37:23; Psalms 139:9-10.
The Adulterous Woman
Verse 20 warns of the adulterous woman who indulges in this sin and thinks it is unknown because it was done in secret. She is unaware that God takes note and will punish both she and her partner, Proverbs 5:3-5; Proverbs 6:32-33; Proverbs 7:21-27; Proverbs 9:16-18.
Four Intolerable Evils
Verses 21-23 describe four things difficult for right thinking people to bear:
1) A servant (Vs. 22) or incapable person elevated to a position of authority over people much better suited for leadership, Proverbs 19:10; 1 Kings 16:1-20.
2) A fool (Vs. 22) already arrogant and intolerant of God (Psalms 14:1) and man (1 Samuel 25:17) who acquires great riches and is thus more able to disturb others with his undesirable traits, 1 Samuel 25:2-38.
3) An ill-tempered woman (Vs. 23) set in her ways, who marries and then habitually finds fault with her husband and all with whom she comes in contact, Proverbs 12:4.
4) A handmaid (Vs. 23) who supplants her mistress, taking her possessions as well as the affections of her husband.
Four Things Little But Wise
Verses 24-28 cite four things little but exceeding wise from which Agur learned valuable lessons also profitable for man today:
1) From the ant (Vs. 25) he noted the wisdom of preparing for the future during the time of opportunity. This is good judgment not only in matters physical, but wise for man’s more important spiritual need. Proverbs 27:1 warns against counting on a tomorrow, likewise Genesis 6:3. Jeremiah lamented that the harvest was past and the people were not saved, Jeremiah 8:20. Jesus wept over a Jerusalem unprepared for impending judgment, Luke 19:41-42.
2) From the conies (tiny rock badgers) (Vs. 26) Agur realized the wisdom of seeking a safe refuge as he observed these creatures lake refuge from the hawks and predators in the crevices of the rocks. It is not accidental that the "ROCK" is often a symbol of the refuge God has provided for man, see Psalms 104:18; Deuteronomy 32:15; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalms 31:3-5; Numbers 20:8; Numbers 20:11; 1 Corinthians 10:4.
3) From the locusts (Vs. 27) Agur witnessed the wisdom of many successfully cooperating together to accomplish a single purpose. Such is the LORD’S plan for His church, 1 Corinthians 12:20-26.
4) From the spider (or small lizard) (Vs. 28) Agur noted the wisdom of patient labor to achieve progress as this small creature found its way even into king’s palaces. So also would the LORD have His people, press on in growth and advancement to the highest levels, Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43; 2 Timothy 4:8; John 15:16.
Four Impressive Symbols
Verses 29-31 name 4 things which seem to suggest the wisdom and might of the creator Agur recognizes in Vs. 3-5.
1) The lion (Vs. 30) is not only recognized as the animal king who turns not away from any; but is also used as a symbol of the all conquering Jesus, Revelation 5:5-14; Philippians 2:9-11.
2) The greyhound (Vs. 31) . is noted for its fleetness and can well portray the immediacy with which Jesus is pledged to respond to those who need Him, Psalms 46:1; Isaiah 65:24.
3) The he goat (Vs. 31) was used as the scapegoat on which the sins of the people were placed, picturing Jesus bearing away the sins of the people, Leviticus 16:21-22.
4) The mighty king against whom none can rise (Vs. 31) pictures the triumph of Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords, Revelation 19:11-16.
A Call to Restraint
Verse 32 brings Agur’s words to a close with an admonition that addressees discontinue any actions prompted by foolish pride or evil thoughts, Proverbs 13:10; Proverbs 26:21; Proverbs 29:22.
Verse 33 enforces the admonition with the example that as continued churning of milk brings forth butter and repeated nose wringing brings forth blood, so continued stirring of anger results in strife, Proverbs 3:30; Proverbs 20:3; Proverbs 25:8; Philippians 2:3; 2 Timothy 2:24.
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Proverbs 30". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany