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Tuesday, May 28th, 2024
the Week of Proper 3 / Ordinary 8
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 30

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-4

Pro 30:1-4

Proverbs 30:1-4

THE LAST TWO CHAPTERS

"These final two chapters are remarkably different from the rest of the book.” This chapter is composed of six paragraphs which in Proverbs 30:1 seem to be ascribed to Agur, about whom we have no information. The final chapter is ascribed to Lemuel king of Masa; but nothing is known either of Lemuel, or of any country known as Masa. Some Jewish and Christian expositors have identified Agur with Solomon; but to this writer it appears to be impossible that David was ever known as Jakeh (Proverbs 30:1).

Toy subdivided the chapter as follows: "Title (Proverbs 30:1 a). the words of Agur (Proverbs 30:1 b-4), an exhortation to trust God (Proverbs 30:5-6), a prayer (Proverbs 30:7-9), an isolated maxim (Proverbs 30:10), a series of tetrads (Proverbs 30:11-31), and a sextet on pride and anger (Proverbs 30:32-33).”

THE TITLE

Proverbs 30:1 a

"The words of Agur the son of Jakeh; the oracle."

Of either one of the proper names here, nothing is known; and in the LXX, no proper names at all appear here. One man’s guess is as good as another’s. "Some scholars argue that the words here rendered as proper names are not names at all but an Aramaic phrase.” It is true that there are a number of Aramaisms in this chapter; and earlier scholars like Toy dated the chapter in the second century B.C.; but the theory that the presence of Aramaisms signifies a late date has been completely exploded. (See our thorough discussion of this subject in Vol. 1 of our Minor Prophets series of commentaries, in the treatise on Jonah.)

It is not known whether "the words of Agur" may be understood as applicable to the whole chapter, or as limited to this first paragraph.

"The oracle here is the proper translation of the Hebrew; and it emphasizes the authority of what follows. The RSV and others (by an emendation) translate the word as Masa.” We are extremely suspicious of most of the emendations that scholars presume to make in the Hebrew text.

Proverbs 30:1-4

THE SON OF GOD MENTIONED

"The man saith unto Ithiel, unto Ithiel and Ucal:

Surely I am more brutish than any man, And have not the understanding of a man;

And I have not learned wisdom, Neither have I the knowledge of the Holy One.

Who hath ascended up into heaven, and descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in his garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou knowest?"

"Ithiel and Ucal" (Proverbs 30:1) We are just as much in the dark about these two names as we are of those in Proverbs 30:1 b. In fact, the Hebrew text here (depending upon the vocalization of the Hebrew consonants) is also legitimately translated: "I have wearied myself, O God, I have wearied myself, O God, and come to an end.” This rendition, of course, fits the context much better than the other one.

The outstanding feature of this paragraph is the marvelous humility of the writer. His confession of almost infinite ignorance in those areas which most deeply concern humanity is a beautiful contrast indeed with the colossal conceit and arrogance which are the twin badges of our mortality. "In his own way, he affirms that reverence is the beginning of knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:2).”

This whole paragraph is in the same line of thought with Job 38:1-10; and the answer that thunders in our ears at the end of each of these six questions is, "No man"! The writer is speaking of the Holy One (and he used the plural [~’Elohiym] for God).

"Who is his Son?" (Proverbs 30:4). This is the highlight of the paragraph, and we have taken the liberty of capitalizing the word Son, which is an evident reference to the Mediator. "The writer would not have dared to ask a question like this if he had believed God to be an abstract unity rather than a compound unity.” Delitzsch interprets the passage, "As a reference to the Mediator in creation, revealed at last as God’s son.” "Greenstone denies that the passage refers to the [@Logos], but offers no positive alternative to explain the passage.” "Ewald also found here the idea of the [@Logos], as the first-born Son of God; and J. D. Michaelis felt himself constrained to recognize here the New Testament doctrine of the Son of God announcing itself from afar. And why may not this be possible?”

Proverbs 30:1. Four names are here introduced to us, unknown to us but probably well known in those days: “Agur” (the author), “Jakeh” (his father); and “Ithiel” and “Ucal” (the ones being addressed). Ithiel is more important of the two in that he is not only mentioned first but twice. These last two chapters contain material that is not compiled by Solomon (this chapter by “Agur” and chapter 31 by “King Lemuel”). Both chapters depart from the one-verse “sayings” to sections of material. The word “Oracle” shows that what follows is inspired even if not written by Solomon.

Proverbs 30:2. Whoever Agur was, he here reveals the fact that it was not through natural endowment that he was about to write. Psalms 73:22 also uses the word “brutish”, and it carries the idea of a low level of understanding.

Proverbs 30:3. And this verse shows that it was not through education received from others that he was about to write. “It is very probable that he was a rustic, without education, and without any human help, as was the prophet Amos; and that all that he knew now was by the inspiration of the Almighty, independent of which he was rustic and uneducated” (“Clarke”).

Proverbs 30:4. Here are five questions dealing with the sublime and divine, Concerning the ascending and descending, Romans 10:6-7 asks two questions: “Who shall ascend into heaven?...and Who shall descend into the abyss?” What would be the purpose of such ascending and descending? Deuteronomy 30:11-13 is that from which Romans 10 is quoting, and it shows that such going up and going down (or out) was for the purpose of gaining divine knowledge and bringing it back to mankind: “This commandment...is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and make us hear it, that we may do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us?” The answer to the first four questions in this verse is, “No man!” Creation and Providence are the works of God—Job 38 - Psalms 104; Isaiah 40:12-14 (questions 2–4), and so is the Revelation—1 Corinthians 2:9-11 (question 1). If somebody insisted that some man has done these things which we attribute to God, Agur wanted to know his name and his son’s name.

Verses 5-6

Pro 30:5-6

Proverbs 30:5-6

AN EXHORTATION TO TRUST GOD

"Every Word of God is tried:

He is a shield to them that take refuge in him.

Add thou not unto his words,

Lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."

"All of the revelation of God is free from error. As originally given, the Bible was free of any error. The alleged mistakes, errors, etc. in ancient manuscripts are insignificant. They do not affect even one percent of the text"; and they are of no more consequence than a flyspeck on the Washington Monument!

"Add thou not unto his words" (Proverbs 30:6). This commandment is expanded and made a part of the New Testament. "If any man shall add unto the words of the prophecy of this book, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in the book; and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book" (Revelation 22:18-19).

Proverbs 30:5. “As the light of nature and metaphysical speculation are of no avail in obtaining the perfect knowledge of God which the seeker craves, he must be all the more thankful for the revealed Word of God, which teaches him as much as he is capable of learning” (“Pulpit Commentary”). The message that Agur is bringing is the “Word of God”, and every word of it is true for it is “tried”: “The words of Jehovah are pure words; As silver tried in a furnace of the earth, Purified seven times” (Psalms 12:6); “Thy word is very pure” (Psalms 119:140). Psalms 19:8 again states its purity and what it does for mankind: “The precepts of Jehovah are right, rejoicing the heart: The commandment of Jehovah is pure, enlightening the eyes.” God and His Word are spokes of as a shield to those who take refuge in Him: “The word of Jehovah is tried; He is a shield unto all them that take refuge in him” Psalms 18:30); “Jehovah God is a sun and a shield” (Psalms 84:11); “O Israel, trust thou in Jehovah: He is their help and their shield. O house of Aaron, trust ye in Jehovah: He is their help and their shield. Ye that fear Jehovah, trust in Jehovah: He is their help and their shield” (Psalms 115:9-11)

Proverbs 30:6. Since God’s Word is pure (just like He wants it), true, and right, He does not want man tampering with it. Twice in Deut. did God sound the same warning: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2); “What thing soever I command you, that shall ye observe to do: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it” (Deuteronomy 12:32). And the last warning in the Bible says, “If any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18-19). Anyone wrestling (twisting) the Scripture does so to his own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). If we deny God’s Word, He will “reprove” us (prove us wrong, deal with us), and we will be found to be nothing less in His sight than a “liar” (absolutely wrong). Examples: 2 Kings 6:24-31; 2 Kings 7:1-17; Jeremiah 27:2; Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 27:8; Jeremiah 28:1-4; Jeremiah 28:10-17.

Verses 7-9

Pro 30:7-9

Proverbs 30:7-9

A PRAYER

"Two things have I asked of thee;

Deny me them not before I die:

Remove far from me falsehood and lies;

Give me neither poverty nor riches;

Feed me with the food that is needful for me:

Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is Jehovah?

Or lest I be poor, and steal,

And use profanely the name of my God."

The two requests are (1) that he may be kept free of falsehood and lies, and (2) that he may be spared the temptations of being either rich or poor. The first of these is a request that God will aid him in the inward purity of life, "For the removal from him of all forms of falsehood, hollowness and hypocrisy"; and, secondly, that God will spare him the temptations identified with two extreme conditions of life, namely, poverty and riches.

Proverbs 30:7. This chapter contains several groupings (Proverbs 30:7-9, Proverbs 30:11-14, Proverbs 30:15-16, Proverbs 30:18-19, Proverbs 30:21-23, Proverbs 30:24-28, Proverbs 30:29-31), and this verse introduces the first group or set. “Two things” were urgently desired or were asked of God, and which he did not want to be denied. “Before I die” means “while I am in the flesh” or “while I live.”

Proverbs 30:8. No. 1: “Remove far from me falsehood and lies”; No. 2: “Give me neither poverty nor riches”. “Feed me with the food that is needful for me” goes with No. 2 as a restatement of it. And Proverbs 30:9 is an explanation of request No. 2. As we look as these two requests, the first is what he wished God to remove from him, and the second is what he wished God to give him. Now knowing Agur (the compiler), we do not know whether he was personally plagued with “falsehood and lies” and wanted to be delieverd from them or whether he saw so much unfaithfulness in humanity that he personally wanted to be completely free from it himself (let us hope it was the latter). And we too need to be free from such unfaithfulness: “Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). Agur also wished that in God’s providential dealings with him, he would spare him from the extremes of both poverty and wealth, for he saw dangers in both (see comments on Proverbs 30:9). His wish was that he might merely have the provisions that were suitable for him. And observation shows that people are more righteous, happier, and more satisfied when they are found in the great middle class that has to work for what they have, and that appreciate what they get.

Proverbs 30:9. What was the danger of “riches”? “Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is Jehovah?” Over and over in the Bible shows this tendency: “Lest, when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied; then thy heart be lifted up, and thou forget Jehovah thy God...and lest thou say in thy heart, My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:12-17); “Thou are waxed fat, thou art grown thick, thou art become sleek; Then he forsook God” (Deuteronomy 32:15). Also see Deuteronomy 31:20; Nehemiah 9:25-26; Job 31:24-25; Job 31:28; Hosea 13:6. What was the danger of “poverty”? “Lest I be poor, and steal, And use profanely the name of my God.” Stealing is wrong whether one is stealing out of want or otherwise, “Situation Ethics” notwithstanding. But one cannot deny the tendency of the poverty-stricken to steal from others. Under those circumstances one might “use profanely” the name of God by cursing Him for his circumstances, or he might affirm his innocence by an oath in which he used God’s name (likely the former: “When they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse by their king and by their God”—Isaiah 8:21).

Verse 10

Pro 30:10

Proverbs 30:10

AN ISOLATED MAXIM

"Slander not a servant with his master, Lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty."

A slander, of course, is an evil, untruthful saying against someone. Clarke noted that, "The proverb warns against bringing a false accusation against a servant, lest thou be found guilty of the falsehood, and the servant curse thee for traducing his character, and in his turn, traduce thine. A general rule also appears here, `Do not meddle with other people’s servants.’”

Proverbs 30:10. “Slander” is not good: Romans 3:8; Psalms 101:5; Psalms 50:19-20; I. Tim. Proverbs 3:11. “Lest he curse thee”—who is the “he”? More likely the “servant” than the “master”—the one slandered rather than the one who hears the slander. Since the slanderer would be “guilty”, the “curse” would be effective.

Verses 11-14

Pro 30:11-14

Proverbs 30:11-14

A SERIES OF TETRADS

(A tetrad is a wise saying with four lines or four elements.)

"There is a generation that curse their father, and bless not their mother.

There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes,

And yet are not washed from their filthiness.

There is a generation, oh how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.

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."

"In all of these sequences of three things, yea, four, it is the climactic fourth that is emphasized." This was a commonly accepted teaching device among the Jews. The first two chapters of Amos are an example of this method. Harris noted that Jesus also utilized the same device, as for example, in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount, where one finds two tetrads (Matthew 5:3-6; and Matthew 5:7-10). The evil character of the generation described here strongly resembles that which is described in the prophecy of Amos.

Proverbs 30:11. The next four verses all begin with, “There is a generation.” Is this a prophecy of a coming wicked generation? He doesn’t say, “There shall be a generation.” Was it his own generation? He didn’t say, “This generation.” Or was it four different generations being described in the four different statements? Likely what he says has fit various generations from time to time. For sure the four statements seem to fit our own generation, and others who have lived before us have felt that they fit theirs also. Our verse is picturing a generation openly violating the Fifth Commandment (“Honor thy father and thy mother”—Exodus 20:12). A child who does not honor and respect his parents is off to a bad start in life: the basis of good character is lacking. Imagine a whole generation of such and the society that would result! This verse and “disobedient to parents” in 2 Timothy 3:2 aptly find their fulfillment in the “juvenile delinquency” of our times.

Proverbs 30:12. It is natural for any people to have a concern over human guilt before God, not that everybody comes to God for cleansing and forgiveness. But our verse pictures a time when men will feel no need for such cleansing: they will feel all right as they are. Gospel preaching, evangelistic appeals, and surrender to Christ are indeed foreign, unnecessary, and indeed foolish to such a people. Nor does our present generation miss being this generation by much!

Proverbs 30:13. This verse describes a proud, conceited age. This was the sin of King Nebuchadnezzar. Remember his pride when one day as he was walking in his palace, he proudly said to himself, “Is this not great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling-place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty” (Daniel 4:30)? This spirit is not far from the present attitude: “See what we have done! Look at what man has accomplished!” The more that man is puffed up with his own knowledge, own attainments, and own importance, the less he bows before God, seeks His will, and walks by faith. This is a dangerous spirit to get into.

Proverbs 30:14. This verse tells of a greedy age, when the “big” eat up the “little,” when the “rich” devour the “poor”. Have we not come to this time when everything big drives everything small out of business. The small farmer with no capital can no longer farm. The man with his small store on the corner can no longer compete. The greed mentioned in this verse has characterized many generations Amos 8:4 uses the same language: “Hear this, O ye that would swallow up the needy, and cause the poor of the land to fail.”

Verses 15-17

Pro 30:15-17

Proverbs 30:15-17

"The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give.

There are three things that are never satisfied,

Yea, four that say not, Enough:

Sheol, and the barren womb;

The earth that is not satisfied with water;

And the fire that saith not, Enough.

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."

It is noted that the verses do not follow the patterns of the tetrads; and, now and then, one finds a verse (Proverbs 30:17) that is diverse from the pattern. Fritsch wrote that, "Proverbs 30:17 is probably misplaced.” The ’eagles’ are generally identified here as vultures; and the implication of the young eagles eating the eyes of the disobedient son is that, "His body was left unburied.”

Proverbs 30:15. This verse and the one following will deal with things that seemingly cannot get enough, are never satisfied. To begin with, he compares them with the blood-sucking horseleach whose two daughters can never get enough blood (“Give, give,” they cry). But the number of things he has in mind are not two, so he raises it to three; and finally he says there are “Four that say not, Enough.”

Proverbs 30:16. What are those four? (1) “Sheol”—the abode of men’s departed spirits. Sheol is never satisfied: it keeps claiming new victims and never says, “Enough.” Proverbs 27:20 and Habakkuk 2:5 also states that Sheol is never satisfied. (2) The barren womb—the married woman who has not been able to bear children. It keeps crying out for conception. Recall that the barren Rachel said to her husband Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). Elkannah’s words to his barren wife Hannah (“Am I not better off to thee than ten sons?”—1 Samuel 1:8) did not satisfy her longing for offspring (read 1 Samuel 1:4-11). (3) The earth—oh, how quickly it dries out after a heavy rain and is ready for more! (4) Fire—instead of being extinguished from fuel put upon it, fire leaps higher and roars louder as if to say, “More, more.” Actually, what is the moral of such a verse? We conjecture a guess: not so much for the sake of the earth and fire not being satisfied but to remind man of the coming of death and that the barren womb of woman can be a problem.

Proverbs 30:17. Mixed in with the groupings of this chapter are occasional single-proverbs (such as this verse and Proverbs 30:10). This verse returns to the subject of Proverbs 30:11. Other passages on showing disrespect to one’s parents: Genesis 9:22; Leviticus 20:9, Proverbs 20:20. On this verse: “Such an undutiful son shall die a violent death; his corpse shall lie unburied, and the birds of prey shall feed upon him...Ravens, vultures, and other birds that live on carrion first attack the eyes of their prey” (“Pulpit Commentary”).

Verses 18-20

Pro 30:18-20

Proverbs 30:18-20

"There are three things which are too wonderful for me,

Yea, four which I know not:

The way of an eagle in the air;

The way of a serpent on a rock;

The way of a ship in the midst of the sea;

And the way of a man with a maiden.

So is the way of an adulterous woman;

She eateth, and wipeth her mouth,

And saith, I have done no wickedness."

In the preceding tetrad, the concurrence of the four things was in their insatiable nature; here the quadruple likeness is that, "They leave no trace behind them.” Fritsch wrote that the reference in the fourth instance here was, "To sexual union, or possibly defloration"; but his support of that opinion was weak.

Of course, the adulteress that eats and wipes her mouth is a metaphor describing her casual immorality and has nothing to do with eating.

Proverbs 30:18. Agur begins another series—this time four things he can but wonder at but not comprehend. Job 42:3 speaks of “Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.”

Proverbs 30:19. What are these four things that excited Agur’s wonderment? (1) The way of an eagle in the air—how marvelous his flight! (2) The way of a serpent on a rock—how man likes to conceal himself and study such! (3) The way of a ship in the midst of the sea—to see a large vessel take to the deep waters and to go with no land in sight was another marvel. (4) The way of a man with a maiden—it remains a marvel the way that love develops between two people and grows into the ultimate relation of husband and wife. We personally think the “Paraphrase” gets to the correct idea better than the commentaries. The “Paraphrase” reads: “There are three things too wonderful for me to understand—no four! How an eagle glides through the sky. How a serpent crawls upon a rock. How a ship finds its way across the heaving ocean. The growth of love between a man and a girl.”

Proverbs 30:20. And here is another thing to marvel at: how an adulterous woman can sin, knowing she has sinned, and say, “I have done no wickedness.” She would fit the “Generation” spoken in Proverbs 30:12 (“pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness”).

Verses 21-23

Pro 30:21-23

Proverbs 30:21-23

"For three things the earth doth tremble,

And for four which it cannot bear.

For a servant when he is king;

And a fool when he is filled with food;

For an odious woman when she is married;

And a handmaid that is heir to her mistress."

The cases cited here are of people in relatively inferior positions who find themselves suddenly promoted; and the intimation of the passage is that, "They then become excessively pretentious, arrogant and disagreeable." Some have discovered an element of humor in the situations mentioned here.

Proverbs 30:21. This verse begins another group, a group of four, four things that bring sorrow, trouble and anguish. “Earth” here concerns those who live upon it.

Proverbs 30:22-23. What four things? (1) A servant when he is king—sometimes a servant is elevated to a ruling status, and sometimes he “grabbed the reins of power”. Proverbs 19:10 speaks of a servant having rule over princes, and Ecclesiastes 10:7 speaks of servants upon horses instead of their usual place (walking). Former servants now ruling or being in charge can become “drunk” with their newly found position of authority—each will show everybody who is boss! (2) A fool when he is filled with food—another case of “promotion” that doesn’t work anymore, so in allows much evil to result. (3) An odious woman when she is married—a hateful woman, a woman with a bad disposition, who finally gets married. Watch out! She will cause her husband trouble, his people trouble, etc. “She is a woman who has passed much of her life without love, having nothing about her attractive either in looks, attainments, or manner, and is consequently soured and ill-tempered. If such a ones does at last win a husband, she uses her new position to vex those who formerly depreciated her, and to make them as miserable as he can” (“Pulpit Commentary”). One person like that in a previously quiet set of people can be like a “bombshell”. (4) A handmaid that is heir to her mistress-another “elevation” that backfires. It was agreeable to Abraham and Sarah for him to father a child by the handmaid Hagar (Genesis 16:1-2). The result: “When she [Hagar] saw that she was conceived, her mistress wad despised in her eyes” (Genesis 16:4).

Verses 24-28

Pro 30:24-28

Proverbs 30:24-28

"There are four things which are little upon the earth,

But they are exceeding wise:

The ants are a people not strong,

Yet they provide their food in the summer;

The conies are but a feeble folk,

Yet make they their houses in the rocks;

The locusts have no king,

Yet go they forth all of them by bands;

The lizard taketh hold with her hands,

Yet is she in king’s palaces."

Other translations give us "badgers" for `conies’ in Proverbs 30:26, or "rock-rabbits," "mormats," or "the rabbit." Why don’t we just stay with the rendition, "conies," as in the NIV?

On Proverbs 30:28, the KJV has: "The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in king’s palaces.” Nearly all the recent renditions give us ’lizard’ here instead of spider; but, there is no doubt that this first line bears the translation, "taketh hold with her hands"; and that fits ’spider’ a hundred times better than it fits `lizard.’ Add to that the fact that `holding a lizard in one’s hand’ is rather ridiculous, even for men, and absolutely impossible as far as women are concerned! All in all, we overwhelmingly prefer the KJV in this verse.

We should not overlook the lesson here. Although the creatures mentioned here are very small and weak, God has endowed them with instinctive wisdom that perpetuates them. In contrast with that, man himself, who is also week and small, has been endowed with reason and intelligence; and if he would be guided by true wisdom `from God’ as faithfully as these exceedingly small creatures are guided by what God gave them, the happiness and continuity of man would be prolonged.

Proverbs 30:24. With this verse Agur begins another series of things, this time four things that are little but exceedingly wise. “Pulpit Commentary”: “In contrast with the intolerable pretensions of the last group.”

Proverbs 30:25-28. What four? (1) Ants. An ant may not be strong, but an ant is wise enough to prepare his food in the summertime for the winter when it would be hard to find. Ever notice how busy ants are as they work? “In countries where ants do not hibernate, they do make granaries for themselves in the summer, and use these supplies as food in the winter months” (“Pulpit Commentary”). (2) Conies—the “rock-badger” (Hart in “Animals of the Bible”). “Geike”: “The coney abounds in the gorge of the Kedrom and along the foot of the mountains west of the Dead Sea.” Because they are small (about the size of a rabbit) they live in the rocks. (“The rocks are a refuge for the conies”—(Psalms 104:18). Their wisdom is displayed in their other protective measures: “It is very hard to capture one...They have sentries regularly placed on the lookout while the rest are feeding; a squeak from the watchman sufficing to send the flock scudding to their holes” (“Pulpit Commentary”). (3) The locusts. They have no leader, yet they all seem to know what to do. Joel 2:7-8 says of them, “They run like mighty men; they climb the wall like men of war; and they march every one on his ways, and they break not their ranks. Neither doth one thrust another; they march every one in his path; and they burst through their weapons, and break not off their course.” (4) The lizard—the small kind with special suction-cup toes that enable it to run up walls and cling to ceilings. This would be the “taketh hold with her hands”. “Small as it is, and easy to catch and crush, it is agile and clever enough to make its way into the very palace of the king, and to dwell there” (“Pulpit Commentary”). The unstated conclusion of this list would be that we should be wise, and we will succeed in spite of various limitations.

Verses 29-31

Pro 30:29-31

Proverbs 30:29-31

"There are three things which are stately in their march,

Yea, four which are stately in going:

The lion, which is mightiest among beasts

And turneth not away for any;

The greyhound; the he-goat also;

And the king against whom there is no rising up."

"Strutting cock” replaces `greyhound’ in many of the ancient versions; and the RSV has followed them. However, "greyhound” and "war-horse” are also legitimate renditions. A significant thing about this whole chapter is that, "There is no philosophizing or moralizing in it.” The graphic, well defined pictures that are presented here are loaded with spiritual implications and moral teachings; but they are not pointed out. "The theological implications are left implicit, enriching the observer’s delight, if he has eyes to see, but not intruding upon it.”

Proverbs 30:29. This verse introduces another set of four, this time things that are “stately in their going” or whose movements are remarkable.

Proverbs 30:30-31. What four? (1) The lion who fearlessly walks wherever he chooses and is fearlessly unafraid. (2) The greyhound who can run like the wind. (3) The he-goat. “Clarke” says this is referring to “How he walks, and what state he assumes, in the presence of his part of the flock”. (4) A king who has things under control so that there is no danger of rebelling against him. This is the way every king wishes it to be.

Verses 32-33

Pro 30:32-33

Proverbs 30:32-33

A SEXTET ON PRIDE AND ANGER

"If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself,

Or if thou hast thought evil,

Lay thy hand upon thy mouth.

For the churning of milk bringeth forth butter,

And the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood;

But the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife."

"Forcing wrath" is a reference to "harping on a matter," continual complaining, criticizing, or in any other manner prosecuting another with exhibitions of one’s displeasure or animosity. To do such a thing brings forth violence and strife just as naturally as churning brings forth butter, or wringing the nose makes it bleed. The antidote for this type of disaster is in the first three lines: "Lay thy hand upon thy mouth." Many an altercation, and some which have issued in fatal consequences, could have been easily avoided, if all men could learn the wisdom of keeping their mouths shut. This proverb is an eloquent plea for exactly that grace to be adopted and practiced by men.

Proverbs 30:32-33. Butter results from churning, nosebleed results from twisting the nose, and strife results from stirring up wrath. What will stir up this wrath? Foolishly lifting oneself up (like James and John were doing in their request for the chief seats in Christ’s then-coming kingdom: “When the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation concerning the two brethren”—Matthew 20:24) or sometimes even just thinking evil about another (like Ecclesiastes 10:20 pictures: “Revile not the king, no, not in thy thought; and revile not the rich in thy bedchamber: for a bird of the heavens shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter”). Putting the hand over the mouth is also mentioned in Job 21:5, Job 40:4; Micah 7:16. This was done when one recognized he had said the wrong thing or to keep from saying more.

NOTE: “Noticeable Groupings” within a chapter are found only in those chapters made up of 1-verse sayings (chapters 10–29).

Sayings of Agur - Proverbs 30:1-33

Open It

1. What is something you enjoy or find fascinating about creation?

2. What have you learned by watching animals or some other part of creation?

Explore It

3. Who wrote the proverbs in this chapter? (Proverbs 30:1)

4. In what form were the proverbs in this chapter presented? (Proverbs 30:1)

5. How did the speaker describe himself, and what sort of questions did he ask? (Proverbs 30:2-4)

6. What did the speaker say about God’s words? (Proverbs 30:5-6)

7. What two things did the speaker ask of the Lord? Why? (Proverbs 30:7-9)

8. What sort of people did the speaker describe? (Proverbs 30:11-14)

9. What four things are never satisfied? (Proverbs 30:15-16)

10. What four things did the speaker not understand? (Proverbs 30:18-19)

11. Under what four things can the earth not bear up? (Proverbs 30:21-23)

12. What four things are wise though small? (Proverbs 30:24-28)

13. What four things move with stately bearing? (Proverbs 30:29-31)

14. What produces strife? (Proverbs 30:33)

Get It

15. What characteristics of God are implied by the speaker’s questions and observations?

16. Why is it important to you that God’s words are flawless?

17. What is the danger of having too much or too little in life?

18. Which do you think presents the greater danger, having too much or having too little? Why?

19. What do you find significant about the author’s list of observations from nature?

20. What lessons can we draw from the author’s observations?

Apply It

21. When can you take the opportunity this week to go outside and observe God’s creation?

22. Whether you have little or a lot, what is one thing you can do today to show your dependence on God and to honor Him with your life-style?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Proverbs 30". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/proverbs-30.html.
 
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