Proverbs 30 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence
The author of these particular proverbs, named Agur, is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, nor is he identified by ancient scholars as one of renown; nevertheless, he seems to be well-known to the ancient Israelites, perhaps not as a Jew but a God-fearing gentile who feared the Lord. In the first nine verses he gives us a view of how he sees himself and his fellow man, and then in vv.10ff he provides a number of terse sayings and lists of things that he deems wise, powerful, stately or wonderful.
In v.1 Agur bemoans the fact that he is weary and worn out with trying to find out the inscrutable ways and wondrous wisdom of God. Just as the Lord responds to Job in the whirlwind and reveals to him the limits of his knowledge compared to the infinite knowledge of the Almighty, so Agur admits that all of his studies fall far short of understanding the mysterious providences of God. Because no mere man can ascend up into heaven of his own accord and return with heavenly wisdom, and since no human being can control the wind and the waves of the sea, bringing order out of chaos, he will always be vulnerable to the accidentals of the earth and will, therefore, be dependent up the power and protection of the Lord.
Consequently, similar to Job, he figuratively puts his hand over his mouth, admitting himself to be a stupid man who has learned very little wisdom and even less knowledge of the Holy One. And similar to the psalmist is Psalm 73:22, his description of his own stupidity in v.2 is the same Hebrew word that is translated as “brutish” in that parallel passage, when he says, “I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast before you.” For far from boasting in this passage, Agur humbly admits his own natural tendencies toward foolish pride and wickedness. The more he has come to know himself and his God, the more he realizes the vast difference between the Creator and the creature and just how dependent God’s creatures are upon the word of God. Just as God’s Word spoke their very lives into existence, so His Word sustains their lives, guides them in wisdom, provides for and protects them, and causes them to flourish. Thus, he commends God’s Word to all men, that they might find refuge in this fallen and chaotic world.
Then Agur offers a simple prayer to the All-wise God in light of his own impotence and vulnerability petitioning Him for two things. He asks the Lord to keep him from falsehood and lying as well as to keep him from poverty and riches. There are number of reasons why sinners choose to lie, but the primary reasons come down to pride and self-centeredness. Instead of giving glory to God by telling the truth, we seek to preserve our own reputation by presenting a false image of ourselves and concocting a false narrative in a story in which we are always the hero or at least a neutral figure that is unblemished by sin. Anyone who regularly lies is certainly not living for the Lord, but rather for the devil, the father of lies who continually weaves a godless web of untruths that only leads to death and decay.
The love of money is another area of particular vulnerability for fallen human beings. Because riches hold the promise of happiness and security in this world, it is easy for the rich man to think that he doesn’t need God in his life. He lies to himself thinking that he has somehow procured his own blessings and his heart becomes puffed up with pride causing him to look down upon his neighbors and rarely look up unto his God until his riches are somehow put at risk. On the other hand, the poor man also is tempted to forget the Lord in his trials or else lose his patience with the lot that has been given to him, causing him both to lie and to steal either to fill his belly or to feed his greedy appetite for more of the things of this earth. Instead, Agur asks only for that which is sufficient for his needs, no more and no less. In other words, he asks to be content with his lot in life, with his work and with his rewards. That seems to be the one thing that is commended regularly by the author of Ecclesiastes merely to enjoy one’s toil and to enjoy one’s bread knowing that God approves what you do. What more is there in life than to eat and drink to the glory of God, knowing that through Christ, we are accepted, blessed and favored as his beloved people. If we could rest in these things, all forms of anxious striving would cease as we seek merely to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.