Proverbs 30c

What Would You Ask of God?

“O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.” – Proverbs 30:7-8 NLT

We all love the story of the magic genie, that mythical individual who, when released from his entrapment in a bottle, promises to give his liberator three wishes. He offers them anything they want and vows to fulfill even their wildest wish. While we know it’s just a story and will never happen, it has never stopped a single one of us from imagining what it would be like. All of us have spent time thinking about what it is we would wish for. We have dreamed of having three wishes and what it would be like to have them fulfilled. And if we’re honest, we probably have to admit that our wishes probably didn’t include world peace, personal contentment, or blessings on all our enemies. No, we were most likely focused on things like good old-fashioned fame and fortune.

But what if you could ask God for anything. What would you request? While I am not suggesting that God is some kind of cosmic genie, who exists to fulfill your wildest dreams, King Agur, the writer of today’s Proverb, gives us some pause for thought when he begs God for two favors. It makes you stop and think what two favors you might ask from God if you ever got up the nerve to do it. I find it fascinating that the first thing he requests is that he might never tell a lie. He begs God to keep him from lying. Why? Most likely because he struggled with it every day of his life and knew that he had no capacity to stop – on his own. As a king, he knew the danger that lying could have on his leadership ability. It could undermine the trust of his people if they found out he was lying. He also knew the constant reality that those who surrounded him and provided him with counsel could be lying at any time. Agur knew the danger of lying and so he asked God to remove it from his life.

The second favor Agur asks of God is that he might have just enough to satisfy his basic needs. Rather than ask for riches, he asks for just enough to get by. Again, a fascinating choice for a wish or request from God. Why would he beg this favor from God? Well, he tells us himself. “For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name” (Proverbs 30:9 NLT). Agur knows himself far too well. He understand enough about himself and human nature to know that riches would ruin him. Wealth would make him self-sufficient and self-reliant, rather than God-dependent. He is fully aware of the nature of his own heart and recognizes that asking God for riches would be counter-productive and harmful to his relationship with God. He also knows that poverty would result in self-sufficiency and self-reliance as well. Rather than resting and relying on God, he would attempt to remedy his poverty through stealing. Once again, Agur knows the danger that lurks in his own heart. The two extremes of poverty and riches would bring out the worst in him. So he begs God to give him just enough to satisfy his needs. Not too little and not too much.

I think you have to keep these verses in the context of the rest of the chapter. Agur starts out chapter 30 expressing his weariness and weakness to God. He admits his lack of common sense and wisdom. He confesses that he doesn’t fully know and understand God. Yet he knows enough to understand that God is all-powerful and unmatched in wisdom, glory and greatness. He is righteous and always right. And He protects those who come to Him. So that is what Agur does. He comes to God and he requests from Him what he cannot provide for himself. He is sick of lying. He is tired of dealing with a heart that can’t be trusted. He is fearful of how he might respond to either poverty or riches. So he asks God for help. Agur knew himself well, and was wise enough to know where to turn for help.

What would you ask from God? Do you know yourself well enough to know what your real needs really are? Agur was well acquainted with his own weaknesses and willing to turn to God for help. Oh, that we might learn to do the same thing.

Father, I ask You for a lot of things. But what I really need is the capacity to see my heart as You do. Give me the capacity to recognize my own needs from Your vantage point and not from my own selfish, sin-prone perspective. Help me to know my heart and realize that only You can help transform it. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

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