Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Proverbs 30:2

Surely I am more stupid than any man, And I do not have the understanding of a man.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Humility;   Thompson Chain Reference - Self-Abasement;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Proverb, the Book of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Pardon;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Agur;   Jakeh;   Massa;   Proverbs, Book of;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Brute;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Eliezer B. Nathan of Mayence;   She'elot U-Teshubot;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Surely I am more brutish - These words can in no sense, nor by any mode of speech, be true of Solomon: for while he was the wisest of men, he could not have said that he was more brutish than any man, and had not the understanding of a man. It is saying nothing to the purpose, to say he was so independently of the Divine teaching. Had he put this in, even by innuendo, it might be legitimate: but he does not; nor is it by fair implication to be understood. Solomon is not supposed to have written the Proverbs after he fell from God. Then indeed he might have said he had been more brutish than any man. But Agur might have used these words with strict propriety, for aught we know; for 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, independently of which he was rustic and uneducated.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/proverbs-30.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A confession of ignorance, with which compare the saying of Socrates that he was wise only so far as he knew that he knew nothing, or that of Asaph Psalm 73:22.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/proverbs-30.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Surely I am more brutish than any man,.... "Every man is become brutish in his knowledge"; man in his original state was a knowing creature but sinning lost his knowledge, and "became like the beasts that perish"; hence we read of the "brutish among the people": but Agur thought himself not only brutish among the rest, but more brutish than any. So PlatoF15De Leg. l. 10. p, 959. says of some souls living on earth, that they are θηριωδεις, of a brutish nature; see Jeremiah 10:14. Or I think the words may be rendered, "a brute am I rather than a man"F16בער אנכי מאיש "bardus sum prae viro", Mercerus; "brutus ego prae viro", Cocceius, Schultens. ; have more of the brute than of the man, especially in the sight and presence of God; a very beast before him, or in comparison of other wise, holy, and good men; or with respect to the knowledge of spiritual, divine, and heavenly things, Psalm 73:22; or "a brute was I from the time", or "ever since I was a man"F17"Nam brutus sum ex quo vir sum", Junius & Tremellius, so Cartwright. ; as soon as be was born, being born in sin, and like a wild ass's colt, Job 11:12;

and have not the understanding of a man; or "of Adam"F18"Nec est mihi intelligentia Adami", Cartwright. ; who was made after the image of God, which consisted in knowledge as well as holiness; who knew much of God, his nature, perfections, and persons; of the creatures, and the works of his hands and of all things in nature; but affecting more knowledge than he should lost in a great measure what he had, and brought his posterity in and left them in a state of blindness and ignorance, one of whose sons Agur was: or his meaning is, that he had not the understanding, as not of Adam in innocence, and of prophets and other eminent men of God, so not of ordinary men of those who had, he least share of the knowledge of divine things. Aben Ezra, who takes Ithiel and Ucal to be scholars or companions of Agur, supposes, that they asked him questions concerning the divine Being, nature, and perfections, to which he answers in this strain; showing his insufficiency to give them any instruction or satisfaction in such matters, or to discourse on such sublime subjects: or rather his view was to show the blindness and ignorance of human nature with respect to divine things he was about to treat of; and particularly to observe, that the knowledge of a Saviour, and salvation by him, were not from nature, and attainable by that; and that a man must first know himself, his own folly and ignorance, before he can have any true knowledge of Ithiel and Ucal, the mighty Saviour and Redeemer; of the need of him, and of interest in him. Some think his view is to prove that his words, his prophecy, or what he was about to say, or did say, must be owing entirely to divine inspiration; since he was of himself; and without a divine revelation, so very blind, dark, and ignorant; it could not be owing to any natural sagacity of his, who was more brutish than any; nor to any acquired knowledge, or the instruction of men, since he had none, as follows; and so כי, with which the words begin, may be rendered "for" or "because"F19כי "nam", Junius & Tremellius; "quia", Pagninus, Montanus; "quoniam", Michaelis. , as it usually is, "for I am more brutish, than any man", &c.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-30.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Surely I [am] more c senseless than [any] man, and have not the understanding of a man.

(c) In this he declares his great humility who would not attribute any wisdom to himself but all to God.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/proverbs-30.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

Surely — This he utters from a modest and humble apprehension of his own ignorance.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/proverbs-30.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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

Ver. 2. Surely I am more brutish than any man.] Or, Surely I have been brutish since I was a man. See how this good man vilifies, yea, nullifies himself to the utmost. This was true humility, that like true balm ever sinks to the bottom, when hypocritical, as oil, swims on the top. Humilitas, ab humo, because it lays a man flat on the ground. Agur had seen Ithiel and Ucal; hence he seeth so little by himself: "Now mine eyes have seen thee; wherefore I abhor myself." [Job 42:5] "Woe is me! for I am undone," saith Isaiah; "for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." [Proverbs 6:5] He that looks intently upon the sun hath his eyes dazzled; so he that beholds the infinite excellencies of God, considers the distance, cannot but be sensible of his own naughtiness, nothingness. It is fit the foundation should be laid deep, where the building is so high. Agur’s humility was not more low than his aims lofty: "Who hath ascended up into heaven?" It is a high pitch that he flies, for he knew well that godliness, as it begins in the right knowledge of ourselves, so it ends in the right knowledge of God.

And have not the understanding of a man.] Or, Neither is there in me the understanding that was in Adam. Man, when he came first out of God’s mint, shone most glorious in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness. Socinians feign him silly, and therein betray their own silliness. (a) He had a large measure of objective knowledge, both in natural things and supernatural; which we have lost in him. [1 Corinthians 2:14] This we should, with Agur here, sit down and bewail, as those in Ezra did the burnt temple. [Ezra 3:12]

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-30.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

You come to me with a great opinion of my wisdom, and you expect that I should inform and instruct you in all things, yea, even in the greatest mysteries: but you are much mistaken in me; I am as ignorant and foolish as other men generally are, yea, more than many others; which he utters either,

1. From a deep sense of the common corruption of human nature, and of the blindness of men’s minds in things concerning God and their own duty, and of the necessity of instruction from God’s word, and of illumination from his Spirit, without which they can never understand these matters. Or,

2. From a modest and humble apprehension of his own ignorance, which hath extorted such-like expressions even from heathen philosophers; whence Pythagoras rejected the title of a wise man when it was ascribed to him; and Socrates, though reputed the wisest man of his age, professed that he knew nothing but this, that he knew nothing.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/proverbs-30.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

2.Brutish — Stupid, lacking intelligence, as compared with many others.Psalms 73:22.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/proverbs-30.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

With me. He speaks of what he could claim of his own, abstracting from the prophetic light. (Calmet) --- In his humility, he supposeth that others are more perfect. The wisest know best their own defects. (Worthington)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/proverbs-30.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Surely = [True it is] that.

man = an educated man, or peer. Hebrew. "ish. App-14.

understanding. Hebrew. binih. See note on Proverbs 1:2.

a man. Hebrew. "adam : a commoner. App-14.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/proverbs-30.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

Surely I (am) more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. Agur refers to the corruption and blindness of man's nature, in divine things, as contrasted with the knowledge of God which man possessed before the fall, as also with the purity of the Word of God (Proverbs 30:4-6). As one who, though otherwise keen-sighted, is yet dazzled and dim-sighted if he tries to look at the sun; so he who is keen enough in comprehending human things, is yet stupid and brutish (Job 11:12; Psalms 49:20; Jeremiah 10:14) in respect to contemplating the mighty Creator, His Son, and His works. Compare a similar avowal of natural incapacity on the part of Amos, when he is proceeding to utter the inspired Word of the Lord, Amos 7:14-15.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-30.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(2) Surely I am more brutish than any man.—Rather, than that I can be called a man, one “formed in the image of God.” (Comp. Psalms 73:22.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/proverbs-30.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.
I am
Job 42:3-6; Psalms 73:22; Isaiah 6:5; Romans 11:25; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 8:2; James 1:5
brutish
5:12; Psalms 92:6; Jeremiah 10:14; 2 Peter 2:12-16
Reciprocal: Job 11:12 - would;  Job 37:19 - we;  Psalm 49:10 - fool;  Psalm 73:16 - When;  Psalm 139:6 - knowledge;  Isaiah 19:11 - brutish;  Acts 8:31 - How;  Romans 7:14 - but;  Ephesians 3:8 - who am

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Proverbs 30:2". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/proverbs-30.html.