Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bible Study Notes in Proverbs- Chapter 30

Proverbs 30

-Now we get to the words of Agur, of whom we know virtually nothing in the annuls of history. Further, the men that Agur declared to are unknown as to their identity as well. Ithiel was perhaps a Benjamite (Nehemiah 11:7), but there is no other mention of Ucal in the Scriptures. Agur is possibly writing in irony, or maybe humility, as he calls himself “more stupid than any man,” and says that he does “not have the understanding of a man.” This is a matter of interpretation, but is not seminal to the work here. He goes on to state that he has not learned wisdom, even though he points out the same basic themes that Solomon so wisely postulated. Nor does he acknowledge having the knowledge of the Holy One, but he gives Him prominence and preeminence in his writings that have been added to the cannon of the Bible. He next gives a series of five rhetorical questions that can only be answered by the Almighty God. This verse four reflects Agur’s desire to delve into the nature of God and has profound prophetic implications as it discusses His Son’s Name (Proverbs 30:1-4).

-The next couple of verses reflect the sufficiency of God’s Word. Every word is tested. God is a shield to those who take their refuge in Him no matter the cultural climate. We should never add to His words. Else, He will reprove us, and we will be proven liars (Proverbs 30:5-6). This is a beautiful way of putting things.

-Agur now asks the LORD, in conversational style and in the form of a plea, to not refuse him two things before he dies. First, he petitions the LORD to keep deception and lies far from him. Second, he wants neither riches nor poverty. This is wisdom as he concludes that if he only gets his fair portion he would be content with that. Being too full, or rich, would lead him to deny God by wondering, “Who is the LORD?” This is a self-sufficient position with no need for a Sovereign, which is a deception in itself really. Being poor would lead to want and lead him to steal. Both would profane the Name of his God, and he wisely wanted nothing to do with that (Proverbs 30:7-9).

-He gives some brilliant observations now on life, which will finish out his sayings. Slandering by one about a slave to their master will inherit a curse and guilt. The warning is not to meddle in another’s domestic affairs. Curses continue as a theme with a kind of man who curses his father and does not bless his mother. This is direct violation to the commands of God (Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16, Ephesians 6:1). There is another kind of man who is pridefully pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his sinful filth. Agur laments, “Oh how lofty are his eyes! And his eyelids are raised in arrogance.” There is yet one more kind of man who devours the afflicted, or needy, from the earth with what Agur describes metaphorically as teeth like swords and jaw teeth like knives (Proverbs 30:10-14).

-Moving on with more metaphors, Agur tells us how the leech has two daughters, “Give” and “Give.” He lists four things that will never be satisfied, those being Sheol (death, the underworld post life), the barren womb, the thirsty earth needing water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.” There is an eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, but that eye will be picked out by the scavenger ravens of the valley and young eagles will eat that eye (Proverbs 30:15-17). Pretty gruesome picture he paints here to further teach obedience and honor toward our parents.

-Next, Agur lists three things that are too wonderful for him, and even four he doesn’t quite understand. The first is the way of the eagle in the sky. The second is the way of the serpent on a rock as it smoothly moves its body. The third is the way of a ship as it navigates in the middle of the open sea. The fourth is the way of a man with a maid in affectionate pursuit. Strangely and seemingly out of place in this section of wonderful things to the wise man, Agur, by means of contrast, notes the way of an adulterous woman who eats the food of sinfulness, wipes her mouth without shame, and states, “I have done no wrong (Proverbs 30:18-20).”

-Going along, Agur points out through hyperbole four things that make the earth quake using his rhetorical style of beginning with three things and then listing a fourth. The earth cannot stand a slave when he becomes king. It disturbs the natural order I suppose. The earth cannot stand a fool when he is satisfied with food. The earth spits upon an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and the earth detests a maidservant when she supplants her mistress (Proverbs 30:21-23). This perhaps speaks to the conditions of chaos when society is rendered unharmonious due to changing proper roles and the incapability of handling new responsibilities.

-In addition, Agur lists four small things on the earth that don’t let size disrupt their wisdom. Ants are not strong, but they work together and prepare their food in the summer for the coming days of want in the winter. They aggressively prepare with tenacity. The shephanim (shaphan- rock badger, coney, hyrax) are not strong, but they are able to make their houses in the rocks by their God-given design. The locusts have no king, but they consistently go out in ranks. The lizard can be grasped with the hands, but they are slithery enough to be found even in king’s palaces (Proverbs 30:24-28).

-Next, Agur lists four things which are stately in their march and walk. One is the lion, which is mighty among the beasts without retreating. Two is the strutting rooster. Three is the male goat. Four is the king when his army is with him (Proverbs 30:29-31). Confidence is the key theme here.

-Finally, Agur wraps up his biblical wisdom with words on not being so foolish as to exalt yourself. Or, if you have plotted evil, refrain and don’t speak of it any more. Churning of the milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood. In the same way, the churning of anger produces strife, or trouble (Proverbs 30:32-33). Agur is saying that we should be people of peace and resist senseless conflicts whenever possible.

-*Application* Humility seems to be the overriding and dominant thought as we read and mediation on today’s words of wisdom. The Word of God is sure and tested. We can put our full trust in it and rest under its authority. Anyone who strays outside the Scriptures will be proven a liar in the end. Stay faithful and hungry for the wisdom that comes from the Word of God. This requires humility, fear of God, and a teachable spirit.

Verses to Memorize: Proverbs 30:5-6, 8-9, 24-28, 33

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