October 16, 2012
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 16 OCTOBER 2012
Proverbs was written “to give prudence to the naive, to the youth knowledge and discretion” (1:4), to increase the learning of the wise, and for a “man of understanding” to acquire “wise council” (1:5). Proverbs discusses the life of wisdom. Wisdom begins when God is reverenced (1:7); therefore, the life of wisdom cannot be disassociated from the all-inclusive wisdom and instruction of the Lord. Proverbs 30 is an example of this wisdom.
The title provided in the first verse of Proverbs 30 indicates a collection of wise words. The writer is Agur (“gatherer”), who is identified as the son of Jakeh (“obedient”). Ithiel (“God is with me”) and Ucal (“able,” “a mighty one”) were Agur’s companions, or possibly individuals who received instruction from him, as Luke addressed Theophilus (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-2). Agur humbly acknowledged his own ignorance without “knowledge of the Holy One” (cf. Prov 29:18). Agur’s acknowledgement was sincere in comparison to the knowledge of God. Human knowledge is indeed limited without divine revelation (cf. Job 38—39). God, therefore, gave Agur understanding—revealing precious truths and imparting wisdom—to communicate these truths not only to Ithiel and Ucal but also to countless generations (cf. Prov 30:5-6).
Ithiel and Ucal certainly ascribed knowledge and wisdom to Agur, but Agur humbly confessed inability and incompetence that overwhelmed him. Similar to Job 38—39, verse 4 of Proverbs 30 begins a series of rhetorical questions, with the obvious reply being “God.” Agur considered the immensity of the natural forces, and was amazed before God who controls them. The primary emphasis of verses 2-4 is humility, combined with gratitude for what God has revealed, and proper submission to God’s revelation without intruding upon His words.
God’s Word is true and unfailing (“tested”), which must not be combined with autonomous pontifications and speculations. Eternal truth is unattainable by one’s own ability and intellect; rather, God alone is the sole infallible source of truth. Not mere parts of God’s Word are infallible, but “every word of God” is reliable. Scripture is perfect and sufficient. All who “take refuge” behind God as “a shield” will find protection from the vicissitudes of life. Agur, therefore, warned against adding to (and therefore misconstruing) the perfection and purity of God’s Word (cf. Deut 12:32; Rev 22:18). Those who disobey this warning will be reproved and proved to be liars.
Verse seven begins the first of several numerical statements. “Two things,” Agur asked of God. God’s answer to these requests will sustain him throughout his life. First, he requested distance from “deception and lies.” Integrity is integral to the life of the wise. The second request was for daily necessities, neither too little nor too much. Either circumstance may inculcate intense temptation.
“But Zeshurun grew fat and kicked . . . then he forsook God” (Deut 32:15). Extreme want may tempt one to steal. Either action dishonors the name of God. God may grant wealth or withhold riches from others, but most live easier between such extremes (Phil 4:11-13). The ability to live with such balance is not a natural gift; rather, it is a supernatural endowment (Phil 4:13). And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19). Indeed, true wisdom is received from God (1 Cor 2:1-16; Jas 3:13-18).
Pursuing the Wisdom that Comes from Above,