There is much speculation about the identity of Agur, son of Jakeh. In rabbinical literature, based on the meanings of the names, it is theorized that Agur was the compiler, the one who first gathered the maxims together, and Jakeh was one who spat out or despised the word of God. The literary style and the tone of this chapter are distinct, and no doubt written by a distinctly different sort of man than Solomon.
If Agur is indeed the one charged with gathering the maxims and compiling the book of Proverbs, he was likely born of a servant class, and blessed to rub elbows so to speak, with the most learned men of his day.
He lacks self esteem, but has a street kind of wisdom all his own. He has studied the creatures of the earth and has gleaned wisdom from what he has observed. He senses the magnificence in the order of heaven and earth, and so reveres the Creator, while conceding that he does not feel a personal connection to Him.
In this verse Agur cries out because he wants to know his creator. He is longing for a personal relationship with God. You and I can have the relationship that Agur so desired because Jesus came to stand in that gap for us, to intercede and represent us as pure and acceptable in the presence of God.
Agur's prayer is profound. He asks for only two things. One is for his spiritual life and one for his physical life. His spiritual request was to live a fair and honest life that would honor God. He did not want to deceive others. As the one charged with compiling the known wisdom of his day, he surely would want God's guidance in order to be accurate and thorough in his work. The request for his physical needs is humbling. He must have seen much arrogance in the respected intellectuals of his day, and much desperation among the common class he most likely came from. He was in essence asking God to protect him from temptations that come with either extreme, the poor being tempted to steal to survive, and the wealthy being tempted to think they don't need God. Agur wanted to have enough, but no more. He feared success would go to his head, and wanted no part of that.
Agur uses examples from nature to show wise traits and the ability to overcome adversity and long odds through wisdom. The ants, though small in stature, working diligently together to store up food for less plentiful seasons, the hydrax, or rock badger, making its home among the rocks, the locusts who march in harmony together, and the lizards who thrive in the homes of both paupers and kings. What they all have in common is that they are simply being what God created them to be.
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Proverbs 30 - New Living Translation
The Sayings of Agur
1 The sayings of Agur son of Jakeh contain this message.
I am weary, O God; I am weary and worn out, O God. 2 I am too stupid to be human, and I lack common sense. 3 I have not mastered human wisdom, nor do I know the Holy One.
4 Who but God goes up to heaven and comes back down? Who holds the wind in his fists? Who wraps up the oceans in his cloak? Who has created the whole wide world? What is his name-and his son's name? Tell me if you know!
5 Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection. 6 Do not add to his words, or He may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.
7 O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. 8 First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. 9 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.
10 Never slander a worker to the employer, or the person will curse you, and you will pay for it.
11 Some people curse their father and do not thank their mother. 12 They are pure in their own eyes, but they are filthy and unwashed.
13 They look proudly around, casting disdainful glances. 14 They have teeth like swords and fangs like knives. They devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humanity.
15 The leech has two suckers that cry out, "More, more!" There are three things that are never satisfied- no, four that never say, Enough!": 16 the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert, the blazing fire.
17 The eye that mocks a father and despises a mother's instructions will be plucked out by ravens of the valley and eaten by vultures.
18 There are three things that amaze me- no, four things that I don't understand:19 how an eagle glides through the sky, how a snake slithers on a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, how a man loves a woman.
20 An adulterous woman consumes a man, then wipes her mouth and says, "What's wrong with that?"
21 There are three things that make the earth tremble- no, four it cannot endure: 22 a slave who becomes a king, an overbearing fool who prospers, 23 a bitter woman who finally gets a husband, a servant girl who supplants her mistress.
24 There are four things on earth that are small but unusually wise: 25 Ants-they aren't strong, but they store up food all summer.
26 Hyraxes-they aren't powerful, but they make their homes among the rocks. 27Locusts-they have no king, but they march in formation. 28 Lizards-they are easy to catch, but they are found even in kings' palaces.
29 There are three things that walk with stately stride-no, four that strut about:
30 the lion, king of animals, who won't turn aside for anything, 31 the strutting rooster, the male goat, a king as he leads his army.
32 If you have been a fool by being proud or plotting evil, cover your mouth in shame.
33 As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels.