PROVERBS CHAPTER 30.
The Maxims of Agur, the Son of Jakeh.
GOD’S WORD AS THE SOURCE AND DISPENSER OF ALL WISDOM. — V. 1. The words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, a wise man, otherwise unknown, some of whose maxims were added to the proverbs of Solomon as the first supplement, even the prophecy, the prophetic utterance: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Uchal, literally, according to the best texts: “I have steadfastly endeavored, I have constantly vexed myself, O God,” v. 2. surely I am more brutish than any man, or, “for a man I am lacking in sense,” for which reason he finds himself unable to fathom the divine nature, and have not the understanding of a man, that which a man should possess in order to have an insight into the attributes of the Lord. V. 3. I neither learned wisdom nor have the knowledge of the Holy, since to know God is the center of all true wisdom. It is impossible for mere man to fathom the mysteries of the divine essence. V. 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? All these great acts of creation and preservation are fully understood by the Creator alone. What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if thou canst tell? It is a most emphatic way of saying that no human being is able to uncover the secrets of God’s essence. Instead, therefore, of foolishly and vainly puzzling over the incomprehensible nature of God, the believers should turn to Him in simple trust of faith. V. 5. Every word of God is pure, purified, rendered free from all impurities of human beings; He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him, making Him their refuge at all times. V. 6. Add thou not unto His words, since the revelation of God in the Bible is fully adequate and sufficient for the needs of all men, lest He reprove thee, convicting the intermeddler of his blasphemous conduct, and thou be found a liar, for all precepts and commandments of men become lies when intermingled with the Word of God and placed on a level with it. V. 7. Two things have I required of Thee, in an earnest prayer; deny me them not before I die, the poet’s entreaty being for a constant enjoyment of these blessings during his whole life: v. 8. Remove far from me vanity and lies, deceit and lying words, every form of transgression of the Eighth Commandment; give me neither poverty nor riches, both extremes being dangerous for the average human being; feed me with food convenient for me, literally, “of my lot or portion,” as much as God found best to assign to him, as much as he needed, v. 9. lest I be full, surfeited by an overabundance, and deny Thee, in the notion that he no longer needed the care of Jehovah, and say, Who is the Lord? such being the danger on the one side, or lest I be poor, in the abyss of severe want, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain, such mockery and blasphemy being found in the mouth of such as believe themselves ill-treated in this world or not properly recognized by the Lord. V. 10. Accuse not a servant unto his master, by slanderous reports, lest he curse thee, for the wrong done to him, and thou be found guilty, obliged to pay the penalty of the transgression. V. 11. There is a generation, a detestable class of people, that curseth their father and doth not bless their mother, thus becoming guilty of one of the most atrocious forms of ungodliness. V. 12. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, proud in their own estimate of self, puffed up in their own conceit, and yet is not washed from their filthiness, they are blind against their own shortcomings and transgressions, Rev. 3. 17. V. 13. There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up, in haughty contempt of others. V. 14. There is a generation whose teeth are as swords and their jaw-teeth, specifically the canines, as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men, without the slightest show of compassion. This insatiable oppression is now characterized by a hold comparison. V. 15. The horse-leech hath two daughters, crying, Give, give! never being satisfied with what they have already gotten. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough: v. 16. the grave, although the number of dead are placed into it in endless succession, and the barren womb, where conception and birth is not possible, the earth is not filled with water, though tons of rain fall in every shower, and the fire that saith not, It is enough, being known as the most insatiable of the ancient elements. V. 17. The eye that mocketh at his father, pride and contempt being shown especially in the eye, and despiseth to obey his mother, in deliberate waywardness and disobedient scorn, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, when the unburied corpse becomes carrion, and the young eagles shall eat it, such being the punishment of the Lord upon those who despise His representatives on earth and therefore set aside His authority.
DEDUCING TRUTHS FROM COMMON EXPERIENCE. — V. 18. There be three things which are too wonderful for me, beyond the explanation of an ordinary mind, yea, four which I know not, cannot understand, which are incomprehensible: v. 19. the way of an eagle in the air, both its manner and the fact that the air shows no trace of his having passed through; the way of a serpent upon a rock, which also leaves no marks; the way of a ship In the midst of the sea, whose wake is swiftly obliterated by the waves; and the way of a man with a maid, for such intercourse also leaves no traces which are immediately and directly apparent. Even so can hypocrisy conceal the real condition of the heart and mind, at least for a while. V. 20. Such is the way of an adulterous woman, who eagerly makes use of such concealment; she eateth, enjoying the sinful act, and wipeth her mouth, boldly professing innocence, and saith, I have done no wickedness, feeling sure that she is safe against detection. V. 21. For three things the earth is disquieted, trembling as under an unbearable burden, and for four which it cannot bear: v. 22. for a servant, a man of the lowest condition and status in life, when he reigneth, when lie suddenly finds himself elevated to the position of ruler and then follows his caprice; and a fool when he is filled with meat, since lie, being surfeited, becomes insolent; v.23. for an odious woman when she is married, for an old maid, disagreeable in disposition, is apt to repay the contempt which she suffered from others in the same coin, and with full interest; and an handmaid, a house slave or nurse, that is heir to her mistress, such a piece of good fortune tending to make her insolent and presumptuous in her behavior. V. 24. There be four things which are little upon the earth, inconspicuous and therefore ordinarily overlooked, but they are exceeding wise: v. 25. The ants are a people not strong, not powerful in size, yet they prepare their meat in the summer, their diligence and thrift laying up a store for the time of need; v. 26. the conies, the cliff-badgers of Palestine, are but a feeble folk, also lacking in strength, yet make they their houses in the rocks, thus exhibiting a shrewdness which is worthy of imitation; v. 27. the locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands, their swarms migrating in perfect harmony and order; v. 28. the spider, rather, the gecko, a poisonous spotted lizard, taketh hold with her hands, being able to cling to, and even move forward upon, the flat surfaces, and is in kings’ palaces, able to adapt herself to every situation. These virtues, as taught by the animals mentioned, are to be applied by men in their domestic, social, and political life. V. 29. There be three things which go well, creatures that move with a stately bearing, yea, four are comely in going, showing dignity and power in every stride: v. 30. a lion, which is strongest among beasts, commonly acknowledged as the king of wild beasts, and turneth not away for any, being a stranger to fear; v. 31. a greyhound, slender in his loins and possessed of great and graceful speed; an he-goat also, known for strength and courage; and a king against whom there is no rising up, who exercises the authority of calling his men to battle and with becoming dignity marches at their head. V. 32. If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, self-exaltation being evidence of unusual denseness, or if thou hast thought evil, in wicked plotting against a neighbor, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, refraining from further speech and thus from further sinning. V. 33. Surely the churning of milk, the Oriental method being that of squeezing and wringing in a skin or bottle of leather, bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose, if it is pressed too hard, bringeth forth blood; so the forcing of wrath, when one or both parties to a quarrel are highly irritated, bringeth forth strife, the proper course for a Christian therefore being that of refraining from anger and provocation and of living peaceably with all men, Rom. 12, 18.