“Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
~Proverbs 30:5 (NRSV).
This chapter has overtones of melancholy Ecclesiastes, which is only one chapter’s jump, gently wafting right the way through it, particularly in the early going.
The following themes are certainly noteworthy:
Humble Sayings Revealing Wisdom
The Sayings of Agur, the son of Jakeh, begin somewhat contrarily, but in the best of senses. To state initially (in verses 2-3) that he’s “the most ignorant of men” and that he has no “knowledge of the Holy One,” is at least a healthy pinch of humility for what directly follows, in verses 4-9 and throughout the whole chapter.
Agreeing with Ecclesiastes 12:12 and Revelation 22:18 is verse 6. Wisdom will reveal us as liars for adding to the words spoken, inspired of God, as written in the Bible; of which all teachers of the Word of God should tremble. This is enough for everyone ‘preaching’ to forever fall back to humility (based in the moral dimension) and continually so.
Verses 7-9 hold nine lines of text in a pattern of invocation-request-feared response. The sage is fearful of falling for falsehood and vanity; balance is what he prays for. This too speaks for humility. He is acutely aware of his own propensity to sin, which is a thing we’re all blessed to have the awareness of.
This entire section has signalled for us the very wisdom of acuity of the person carrying this message.
The midsection in verses 10-17 calls us home to the vital respecting of relationships in the family, and including those in the workplace (verse 10).
Those wicked ones are described; the ones without the appropriate respect of seniors, parents and elders. These are also those who are insatiable in their desire for acquisition. Heaven only help the parents with “two [leech-like] daughters,” (or sons) who command gratuities in disrespecting and greedy fashion, “Give! Give!”
When we consider the anatomy of the leech we see it has bilateral suckers that attach themselves to the host. It is not good for parents—or society at large—that children become like this; spoiled beyond repair. Wise discipline would have been the timely answer.
Verse 17 concludes this little arrangement in power-proverb manner. It will not end well for children who “mock” a father or “scorn [the] obedience” to a mother.
Five Important Foursomes Ushering Mystery
The first foursome we’ve partially covered already. These discuss things noted as insatiable; the greedy grown child, the grave, a barren womb and fire. Each of these is abyss-like in its own way.
Four things produce wonder in the sage (verses 18-19). For these he has no answer, and all he does is marvel. Marvelling is in itself a sign of wisdom, for it appreciates there things beyond answer—for which there definitely are in life. Perhaps with this proverb couplet is verse 20 also, which provides the negative image of the know-it-all adulteress who refuses to acknowledge her vast sin and the damage caused.
This is the perfect introduction to four things that are despised (verses 21-23). These are oddities that are so perverse Wisdom would seek to spit them out of her mouth, including for interest, issues on sexual and moral infidelity.
Four more things in verses 24-28 are found wondrous as they’re diligently wise. The innovatively productive methods of ants, rock badgers, locusts and lizards are again marvelled at.
Majesty is the fifth important foursome featured (verses 29-31). This foursome is about movement; the “stately” gait.
Warnings for Those Planning Evil
Proverbs 30 concludes (in verses 32-33) with the visitation again of the ‘malicious one’ who is bent on trouble. The warning is to back out of such wickedness before it’s too late.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.