Proverbsby David Cook
Who is Agur? Who is Ithiel? We know very little about these two people in Proverbs 30:1. Agur, son of Jakeh, is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, while Ithiel features only one other time, in Nehemiah 11:7. What we do know, however, is that Agur is a humble man, as evidenced by what he says to Ithiel in Proverbs 30:2-3.
In the Bible, wisdom teaching often begins with the writer encouraging his listener to heed his words of wisdom. Agur, however, begins by acknowledging his own ignorance and need for God's wisdom-which is the first step to receiving true insight from God.
In verse 4, Agur observes that no human can do what God alone has done. God's revelation of the truth, and His coming down to tell us that truth, is unique to the Christian faith. In John 3:12-13, the Lord Jesus says that He is the one who has come down to tell us of heavenly things. Because the revelation of spiritual things comes from God himself-and not from man's discovery-we can be sure that this revelation is completely true and reliable.
That's why Agur affirms that God's words are flawless (Proverbs 30:5-6). They are therefore the perfect source of wisdom, for they are adequate and in no need of supplementing by so-called human wisdom, which is flawed. In fact, we are warned not to add to God's holy Word (v. 6; see also Revelation 22:18-19).
Agur thus asks God to keep him from falsehood, and to grant him contentment and a life of moderation (Proverbs 30:7-8). The wise man knows that extreme wealth might lead him to forget his dependence on God, while extreme poverty might tempt him to steal (v. 9). Both requests-to glorify God's name and to be contented with one's daily bread-will feature again in the prayer that Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6:9 and 11.
In Proverbs 30:10, Agur warns against meddling in others' affairs by making false accusations against a servant to his master. This, he notes, will earn a deserved curse from the master.
In verses 11-14, Agur goes on to list four character traits or actions of the proud that should be avoided:
Christian writer C. S. Lewis called pride ″the complete anti-God state of mind″,11 while church reformist John Calvin described it as the twin of unbelief in God.12 The ugliness of pride is seen in its lack of respect for those closest to us, in its ignorance of one's own faults, in its arrogance, and in its hardness towards those in need. In contrast, a genuine belief and trust in God leads to humility and compassion, for we will realise our complete dependence on Him and know that we are to care for others.
11C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
12John Calvin, John Calvin's Complete Commentary on the Bible (Harrington, DE: Delmarva Publications, 2013).
Agur shows great humility and awareness of his sin and needs (Proverbs 30:2-3). How does his attitude compare with yours? Ask God to help you to be honest in your assessment of your attitude in the light of God's Word.
Reflect on Agur's descriptions of pride. Could any of them be said of your thoughts, words, or actions?