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Thursday, September 28th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 30

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verse 1

“even unto Ithiel and Ucal” - Word Study on “Ithiel” - Strong says the Hebrew name “Ithiel” ( אִיתִיאֵל ) (H384) probably comes from two root words: ( אׂשֶׁר ) (H837), which means “happiness,” and ( אֵל ) (H410), which means “strength.” As an adjective, it means, “mighty,” or “Almighty.” Therefore, Strong gives the meaning of the name of Ithiel as “God has arrived.” Another meaning of this name suggested is “signs of God,” or “coming of God” ( Hitchcock).

Comments - The only other use of this name in the Scriptures is found in Nehemiah 11:7, where Ithiel is the son of Jeshaiah of the tribe of Benjamin, who was one of the inhabitants of Jerusalem during the time of Nehemiah's. Thus, the name appears to be Hebrew, and not a foreign name.

Nehemiah 11:7, “And these are the sons of Benjamin; Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jesaiah.”

Word Study on “Ucal” - Strong says the Hebrew name “Ucal” ( אֻכָל ) (H401) is derived from the verb ( אָכַל ) (H398), which means “to eat.” Thus, he gives the meaning of the Hebrew name Ucal as “devoured.” Other suggestions for a meaning are “power, prevalency” ( Hitchcock), and “I am strong” ( Smith).

Comments - It is supposed that the Ithiel and Ucal are friends or pupils of Agur. However, PTW suggests that these are not names, but verbs, thus yielding a translation, “The man said, I have wearied myself, O God, I have wearied myself, O God, and am consumed.” Several modern translations support this idea.

BBE, “The words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, from Massa. The man says: I am full of weariness, O God, I am full of weariness; O God, I have come to an end :”

DRC, “The words of Gatherer the son of Vomiter. The vision which the man spoke with whom God is, and who being strengthened by God, abiding with him , said:”

YLT, “Words of a Gatherer, son of an obedient one, the declaration, an affirmation of the man: -- I have wearied myself for God, I have wearied myself for God, and am consumed .”

Verses 1-33

The Proverbs of Agur: An Encounter with God Proverbs 30:1-33 is a group of proverbs that were written by an unknown person named Agur. It becomes obvious in Proverbs 30:2-6 that this prophet has had an encounter with God. The proverbs contained within this chapter are a reflection of that divine encounter. At this level of our journey with wisdom, we, too, will have an encounter with God, where we are allowed to have a glimpse of His eternal glory, and with a taste of His glory, the things of this world fade into obscurity. No one can turn loose the cares of this world until he tastes this glory, but once it is tasted, he is never again satisfied with the things of this world.

In the presence of God, Agur responds in broken humility (Proverbs 30:2-3). After describing his utter weakness in relation to God, he endeavors to describe God's majesty (Proverbs 30:4-6). Even His spoken Words are overwhelming (Proverbs 30:5-6). From this divine perspective, we better understand how to balance our pursuits of this world's goods (Proverbs 30:7-9). We see how wicked and proud the heart of man really is in comparison to God's holiness (Proverbs 30:10-14). We see God's wonderful creation as too glorious to comprehend (Proverbs 30:15-31).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Introduction Proverbs 30:1

2. Man’s Response to God’s Presence Proverbs 30:2-3

3. A Description of God’s Majesty Proverbs 30:4-6

4. Setting Priorities in Life Proverbs 30:7-9

5. Man’s Wickedness Compared to God’s Holiness Proverbs 30:10-14

6. God’s Wonderful Creation Proverbs 30:15-31

7. Conclusion Proverbs 30:32-33

Proverbs 30:1 Introduction Proverbs 30:1 introduces the distinct passage in Proverbs 30:1-33.

Proverbs 30:1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,

Proverbs 30:1 “The words of Agur the son of Jakeh” - Word Study on “Agur” - Strong says the Hebrew name “Agur” ( אָגוּר ) (H94) is a past participle of the Hebrew verb ( אָגַר ) (H103), which means “to harvest, or to gather.” Strong says the name would mean “gathered,” that is, “received among the sages.” Thus the name could mean, “a gathering together of wise sayings or wise men.” Other suggested meanings are “stranger” ( Hitchcock), and “hireling” ( ISBE).

Comments - Some scholars believe that this is a fancy name for King Solomon. However, this does not explain the title “son of Jakeh.” Others say that he was a public teacher or prophet that lived in the time of King Solomon, or a little later. There is not clear evidence as to the identity of this individual, but it appears that he was a Hebrew or Gentile wise man whom Solomon or a later compiler believed had divine wisdom worth gathering.

Word Study on “Jakeh” - Strong says the Hebrew name “Jakeh” ( יָקֶה ) (H3348) means “obedient,” and comes from an unused verb that probably means “to obey.” Other meanings suggested for this name are “pious” ( Easton, Smith), “carefully religious” ( ISBE).

Proverbs 30:1 “even the prophecy” - Word Study on “prophecy” - Strong says the Hebrew word “prophecy” ( מַּשָּׂא ) (H4853) means “a burden,” and figuratively, “an utterance.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 66 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “burden 57, Song of Song of Solomon 3:0, prophecy 2, set 1, exaction 1, carry away 1, tribute 1.” Note that this Hebrew word is commonly translated “oracle” ( NASB, NIV, RSV). Holladay says, “A burden or pronouncement (a sort of cursing pronouncement).”

Comments - The ISBE suggests the possibility of translating this word as “the Massaite.” The Hebrew word “Massa” ( מַשָּׂא ) (H4854), reads the same and refers to one of the sons of Ishmael. This word only occurs two times in the Old Testament (Genesis 25:13-14, 1 Chronicles 1:29).

Genesis 25:13-14, “And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa ,”

1 Chronicles 1:29, “These are their generations: The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth; then Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, Mishma, and Dumah, Massa , Hadad, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael.”

Since this word is also used in Proverbs 31:1, James Crichton suggests that Agur and King Lemuel were two Ishmaelite men who lived in a nearby city or region called Massa during Solomon's time. [147] This would account for Solomon's quest for wisdom from all places and sources. One modern translation supports this idea:

[147] James Crichton, “Jakeh,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

BBE, “The words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, from Massa . The man says: I am full of weariness, O God, I am full of weariness; O God, I have come to an end:”

Comments - The Hebrew word ( מַּשָּׂא ) (H4853) is used in Proverbs 30:1; Proverbs 31:1, suggesting the same authorship.

Proverbs 31:1, “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.”

Verses 2-3

Man’s Response to God’s Presence - In Proverbs 30:2-3, Agur responds in broken humility at the presence of God.

Proverbs 30:2 Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.

Proverbs 30:2 Comments - In the presence of God, we feel so unclean and small. We see the true wickedness of our own hearts and minds in this corrupt body. Agur, the author of this chapter has experienced a true encounter with Almighty God. His response is similar to the words of Isaiah when he had a vision of God on His throne. Note:

Isaiah 6:5, “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Gideon felt this way in his encounter with an angel:

Judges 6:22, “And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face.”

Samson's father felt this way in his encounter with an angel:

Judges 13:22, “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”

Job had an encounter with God and felt this way:

Job 42:5, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

The apostle Peter felt this way in his realization of the divinity of Jesus Christ:

Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

The apostle John had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and felt this way:

Revelation 1:17, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:”

Proverbs 30:3 I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.

Verses 4-6

A Description of God’s Majesty - In Proverbs 30:4-6, after described his utter weakness in relation to God, Agur endeavors to describe God's majesty. The majesty of Almighty God is seen in His creation (Proverbs 30:4) and is His spoken Words (Proverbs 30:5-6). The author's encounter with God allows Him to see the endless power of God in His wonderful creation and in the spoken Words that overwhelm the spirit of those who hear His Words.

Proverbs 30:4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or 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?

Proverbs 30:5-6 Comments - In Proverbs 30:5-6 Agur's divine encounter with God made even His spoken Words to become overwhelming.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.

Proverbs 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Proverbs 30:6 “thou not unto his words” Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Deuteronomy 4:2, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”

Deuteronomy 12:32, “What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.”

Revelation 22:18, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:”

Verses 7-9

Setting Priorities in Life - From this divine perspective, Agur better understood how to balance our pursuits of this world's goods. By saying, “feed me with food convenient for me,” he is saying that he wants contentment in his life instead of the passion for riches and the sorrows of poverty. Paul teaches this divine truth to Timothy by telling him that godliness with contentment is great gain.

1 Timothy 6:6-8, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

When Agur encountered the Lord, he was able to see the divine perspective of this world’s goods. God neither wants His children to lack, neither does He want them to put riches before godliness. This was Agur’s prayer, not that riches were wrong, but that a pure heart far outweighed riches in true value. With this attitude in prayer, the Lord is able to bless Agur as He blessed Solomon when this young king asked for wisdom above riches and power.

Proverbs 30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:

Proverbs 30:8 “feed me with food convenient for me” Comments - This prayer is the same as one found in Matthew 6:11.

Matthew 6:11, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Proverbs 30:9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Verses 10-14

Man’s Wickedness Compared to God’s Holiness - In Proverbs 30:10-14 Agur sees how wicked and proud the heart of man really is in comparison to God's holiness.

Proverbs 30:10 Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.

Proverbs 30:10 Comments Regarding the phrase “Accuse not,” the NASB reads, “Do not slander.” The Greek for the word “Satan” is διάβολος (H1228), which means, “a traducer” ( Strong), “an accuser” ( Vine). Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10). We are God’s servants; He is Master. We are not to slander our brothers and sisters in Christ to the Lord. God’s curse will come upon that soul who does.

Revelation 12:10, “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”

Proverbs 30:14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.

Verses 15-31

God’s Wonderful Creation - In Proverbs 30:15-31, Agur sees God's wonderful creation as too glorious to comprehend. In his divine encounter with God, Agur saw creation in its glorified body. We know from Romans 8:0 that creation will received a glorified body after mankind receives their glorified bodies (Romans 8:21-23). Then a simple blade of grass will seem awesome to behold.

Romans 8:21-23, “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Numerical Collections - Proverbs 30:15-31 consists of a number of numerical collections. This style of wisdom literature is also used in Job 5:19; Job 33:14, Proverbs 6:16, Ecclesiastes 11:2 as well as in Amos 2:3.

Job 5:19, “He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.”

Job 33:14, “For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.”

Proverbs 6:16, “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:”

Ecclesiastes 11:2, “Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.”

Amos 2:1, “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:”

Proverbs 30:15 The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:

Proverbs 30:15 Comments - Scholars believe the numerical phrase “three...four” is being used more in a figurative way than in a literal way, which means that the list is not exhaustive.

Proverbs 30:16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.

Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.

Proverbs 30:17 “the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it” Word Study on “eagles” Strong says the Hebrew word “eagles” ( נֶשֶׁר ) (H5404) means, “the eagle (or other large bird of prey).” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 26 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “eagle 26.” Gesenius tells us that this Hebrew word can carry a wider range of meanings beside “eagle.” He says that the reference in Micah 1:16 refers to a bird that is bald, which more closely describes a vulture than an eagle, and Job 39:30 and Proverbs 30:17, describe a bird that eats carcasses, something more likely to describe a vulture than an eagle.

Micah 1:16, “Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle ; for they are gone into captivity from thee.”

Job 39:27-30, “Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she .”

Proverbs 30:17, “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it .”

Note also a more likely reference to the vulture than the eagle in the New Testament:

Matthew 24:28, “For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”

Comments - It can be noted in nature that the vultures often pick out the soft flesh of the eyes of their carcasses first before they begin to tear through the hide and devour the inner parts.

Proverbs 30:17 Comments - The eyes of man are often figurative of the heart. Thus, Proverbs 30:17 is referring to a child whose heart is rebellious against his or her parents. The ravens and vultures would symbolize demonic spirits. A rebellious child becomes a victim of the devil. Thus, Proverbs 30:17 tells us that a rebellious child will have his heart darkened by Satan so that he can no longer see his way through life, and thus, encounter many problems.

Proverbs 30:23 For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.

Proverbs 30:23 “an handmaid that is heir to her mistress” - Comments - We see this illustrated in the life of Abraham. Sarai gave Hagar to Abraham, her husband in order for this handmaid to bare him seed. Hagar quickly despised Sarai afterwards. The situation became so unbearable that Abraham had to send Hagar and his son, Ishmael away.

Genesis 16:4, “And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.”

Proverbs 30:26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;

Proverbs 30:26 Word Study on “conies” - Strong says the Hebrew word “conies” ( שָׁפָן ) (H8227) means, “a species of rock-rabbit, i.e. probably the hyrax.” This Hebrew word is used only three other times in the Old Testament. Note:

Leviticus 11:5, “And the coney , because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.”

Deuteronomy 14:7, “Nevertheless these ye shall not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney : for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they are unclean unto you.

Psalms 104:18, “The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies .”

Proverbs 30:24-28 Comments - God’s Divine Character Revealed in Nature - Each of these animals described in Proverbs 30:24-28 show an aspect of divine wisdom in God's creation. The ant shows the strength of wise planning. The conies show us the security and safety that wisdom brings. The locusts show us the wisdom of cooperation and unity. The spider shows us the wisdom of determination.

Proverbs 30:30 A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;

Proverbs 30:30 “he will not turn away from any” Scripture References - Note a similar verse:

Isaiah 31:4, “For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice , nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.”

Proverbs 30:31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.

Proverbs 30:32-33 Conclusion Proverbs 30:32-33 serve as concluding remarks for Agur. After his encounter with God, he acknowledges that the pride (Proverbs 30:32) and wrath (Proverbs 30:33) of man’s heart must be addressed in every man’s life.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Proverbs 30". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/proverbs-30.html. 2013.
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