The Mysterious Sayings of Agur
1These are the collected sayings of the prophet Agur, Jakeh’s son # 30:1 This section of Proverbs is attributed to Agur, who gave these oracles to his protégés Ithiel and Ukal. Agur means “to gather a harvest.” He was the son of Jakeh, which means “blameless” or “obedient.” Jakeh could be another name for David, Solomon’s father. Many Jewish expositors believe that Agur was a pseudonym for Solomon. Nothing more is mentioned about Agur in the Bible than what we have here, which is typical for other prophets mentioned in the Scriptures. Some believe he could be the “master of the collection of sayings” referred to in Eccl. 12:11. —
the amazing revelation # 30:1 Or “mighty prophecy.” he imparted to Ithiel and Ukal. # 30:1 The name Ithiel can mean “God is with me” or “God has arrived.” This was fulfilled by Christ, for his birth was the advent, the arrival of God to the earth in human form. Ukal means “I am able” or “I am strong and mighty.” When placed together, the meaning of these Hebrew names could read “Gather a harvest of sons who are blameless and obedient. They will have God with them, and they will be strong and mighty.” This chapter contains some of the most mystical and mysterious sayings found in Proverbs, with hints of revelation from the book of Job.
2God, I’m so weary and worn out,
I feel more like a beast than a man.
I was made in your image, # 30:2 Implied in the text, which is extraordinarily difficult to translate with certainty.
but I lack understanding.
3I’ve yet to learn the wisdom
that comes from the full and intimate knowledge of you,
the Holy One.
4Who is it that travels back and forth
from the heavenly realm to the earth? # 30:4 Jesus solves this riddle in John 3:13. Only Jesus Christ is the master of heavenly knowledge and wisdom. See also Eph. 4:7–10.
Who controls the wind # 30:4 The Hebrew word ruach (wind) is also the term used for the Holy Spirit. as it blows and holds it in his fists?
Who tucks the rain into the cloak of his clouds?
Who stretches out the skyline from one vista to the other?
What is his name?
And what is the name of his Son?
Who can tell me?
A Pure Heart Is Filled with God’s Word
5Every promise from the faithful God
is pure and proves to be true.
He is a wraparound shield of protection for all his lovers
who run to hide in him.
6Never add to his words,
or he will have to rebuke you and prove that you’re a liar.
7God, there are two things I’m asking you for before I die, only two:
8Empty out of my heart everything that is false—
every lie, and every crooked thing.
And give me neither undue poverty nor undue wealth—
but rather, feed my soul with the measure of prosperity
that pleases you.
9May my satisfaction be found in you.
Don’t let me be so rich that I don’t need you
or so poor that I have to resort to dishonesty
just to make ends meet.
Then my life will never detract from bringing glory to your name.
10Never defame a servant before his master,
for you will be the guilty one
and a curse will come upon you.
11There is a generation rising that curses their fathers
and speaks evil of their mothers.
12There is a generation rising that considers themselves
to be pure in their own eyes, # 30:12 See Judg. 21:25.
yet they are morally filthy, # 30:12 The Hebrew uses the word excrement. unwashed, and unclean.
13There is a generation rising that is so filled with pride,
they think they are superior and look down on others.
14There is a generation rising that uses their words like swords
to cut and slash those who are different.
They would devour the poor, the needy, and the afflicted
from off the face of the earth!
15There are three words to describe the greedy:
“Give me more!”
There are some things that are never satisfied.
Forever craving more, they’re unable to say, “That’s enough!”
Here are four:
16the grave, yawning for another victim,
the barren womb, ever wanting a child,
thirsty soil, ever longing for rain,
and a raging fire, devouring its fuel.
They’re all insatiable.
17The eye that mocks his father and dishonors his elderly mother # 30:17 As translated from the Septuagint.
deserves to be plucked out by the ravens of the valley
and fed to the young vultures! # 30:17 This is a figure of speech for demonic powers that will remove their vision. Ravens and vultures are unclean birds associated with demonic powers in Hebrew poetry.
18There are four marvelous mysteries
that are too amazing to unravel # 30:18 The Hebrew uses a poetic style of saying there are three mysteries, then saying there are four in order to emphasize their great importance. There could be within this poetic device a pointing to the fourth as the key, or the most important. —
who could fully explain them? # 30:18 Notice that each of these four examples have to do with movement and mystery.
19The way an eagle flies in the sky, # 30:19 This is a picture of the overcoming life that soars above its problems and limitations with the wings of an eagle. It could also be a hint of the prophetic revelation that comes to God’s servants mysteriously and supernaturally. See Isa. 40:31 and 1 Cor. 2:9–13.
the way a snake glides on a boulder, # 30:19 The snake becomes a picture of our sin that was placed on the Rock, Jesus Christ. See Num. 21:6–9; John 3:14–15; 2 Cor. 5:21.
the path of a ship as it passes through the sea, # 30:19 This is a picture of the way our lives, like a ship, sail on the high seas of mystery until we reach our destiny. Our lives contain mysteries, such as where God decided that we were to be born, how we were raised, and the companions who join us until we reach our desired haven. See Ps. 107:23–30.
and the way a bridegroom falls in love with his bride. # 30:19 The Hebrew word translated “bride” can also mean “virgin,” pointing to a wedding, thus implying the use of “bridegroom” instead of “man.” (Consider Ruth and Boaz.) More important, this is a beautiful metaphor for the mystery of the love of our heavenly Bridegroom (Jesus), who romances his bride and sweeps us off our feet. Love is a mystery. See also 2 Cor. 11:2 and Eph. 5:32.
20Here is the deceptive way of the adulterous woman: # 30:20 The adulterous woman of Proverbs is a metaphor for the corrupt religious system. See Rev. 17–18.
she takes what she wants and then says,
“I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Four Intolerable Things
21There are four intolerable events
that # 30:21 See the first footnote for v. 18. These four events each depict a promotion undeserved, a displacing of one who is virtuous with one who is corrupt. Each promotion indicates that they will carry their corruption with them. The unfaithful servant will likely become a tyrant. The fool who becomes wealthy will squander his wealth. The unfaithful woman (or “hated woman”) will continue her immorality even after she’s married. The girlfriend who replaced the faithful wife will likely find another man one day. are simply unbearable to observe:
22when an unfaithful servant becomes a ruler,
when a scoundrel comes into great wealth,
23when an unfaithful woman marries a good man,
and when a mistress replaces a faithful wife.
Four Creatures Small and Wise
24The earth has four creatures that are very small but very wise: # 30:24 Or “They are the epitome of wisdom.”
25The feeble ant has little strength,
yet look how it diligently gathers its food in the summer
to last throughout the winter. # 30:25 To prepare for the future is a mark of true wisdom.
26The delicate rock-badger isn’t all that strong,
yet look how it makes a secure home, nestled in the rocks. # 30:26 This becomes a picture of the believer. Though feeling weakness at times, we can make our home in the high place, inside the cleft of the Rock. See John 14:1–3.
27The locusts have no king to lead them,
yet they cooperate as they move forward by bands. # 30:27 The locust army points us to Joel 1–2. There is an awakening army coming to devour the works of the enemy. Their King, though invisible, guides them from on high as one army.
28And the small lizard # 30:28 Or “spider.” is easy to catch
as it clings to the walls with its hands,
yet it can be found inside a king’s palace. # 30:28 Though we may see ourselves as insignificant (like the small lizard), God can place us in significant places where we can be used for him.
Four Stately Things
29There are four stately monarchs # 30:29 See the first footnote on v. 18.
who are impressive to watch as they go forth:
30the lion, the king of the jungle, who is afraid of no one,
31the rooster strutting boldly among the hens, # 30:31 As translated from the Septuagint.
the male goat out in front leading the herd,
and a king leading his regal procession. # 30:31 Or “a king surrounded by his band of soldiers.” The Hebrew text is abstruse.
32If you’ve acted foolishly by drawing attention to yourself,
or if you’ve thought about saying something stupid,
you’d better shut your mouth.
33For such stupidity may give you a bloody nose!
Stirring up an argument only leads to an angry confrontation. # 30:33 Or “Churning milk makes butter, and punching the nose brings blood, so stirring up anger produces quarrels.” The Hebrew contains a word play with the word anger, which is almost identical to the word for “nose.”