Smarter Than He Thinks.
“Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” – Proverbs 30:7-9 NLT
Agur, the author of this Proverb, had a somewhat diminished view of himself. He begins his proverb with the self-deprecating words, “I am the most ignorant of men; I do not have a man’s understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One” (Proverbs 30:2-3 NLT). It has been speculated that Ithiel and Ucal were his two sons and that they were claiming, as sons are prone to do, to be wiser than their dear old dad. In response, Agur agrees with them, painting himself as lacking in wisdom and limited in his knowledge of God. But he is not claiming to be ignorant or a fool. He is simply admitting the limited nature of his knowledge and understanding when compared to that of God. He has a humble view of himself and a high view of God. He asks Ithiel and Ucal, “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know! (Proverbs 30:4 NLT). For Agur, everything there is to know about God is wrapped up in the name of God. The answer to all of his questions is Yahweh, but he acts as if Ithiel and Ucal don’t know the obvious. In their pride and arrogance, they appear to have forgotten about the greatness of God.
Agur has a humility about him that is refreshing. He knows his place. He is painfully aware of his limitations. And he knows that his needs are few. All he really wants is to know his God and to live a life that is free from anything that might tempt him to forget God or dishonor Him. That is his prayer in verses 7-9 – the only prayer found in the Proverbs. Agur asks God for two things. He asks God to keep falsehood and lies far from him. I think this is a request for protection from the falsehood and lies of others, but also the elimination of these things in his own life. The second request is for a life devoid of wealth of poverty. Why? Because he knows that both bring with them certain temptations that he wants to avoid. When we find ourselves blessed with abundance we can be tempted to become self-sufficient (Deuteronomy 8:11-14; John 15:5). When we experience the opposite extreme of poverty, we can be tempted to doubt God’s goodness and to lose trust in Him. When that happens, we end up taking matters into our own hands in order to solve our problem. Agur wanted neither wealth or poverty. His real request was that he might live a life focused on God, trusting and relying on Him alone. Agur was a wise man. The kind of man most sons don’t appreciate until they are much older. We need more men and women like in our world today.
Father, give me the heart of Agur. Let me learn to be satisfied with You and You alone. Don’t let me long for wealth or fear poverty. Give me a life of simplicity, where You are all I need. Keep me from living self-sufficiently or self-reliantly. Help me to recognize each day that You are my sole provider and protector. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men