Proverbs 30:1-33 (ESV)
1 The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle. The man declares, I am weary, O God; I am weary, O God, and worn out.
2 Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man.
3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know!
5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.
7 Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.
10 Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.
11 There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers.
12 There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.
13 There are those—how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift!
14 There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind.
15 The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”:
16 Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.”
17 The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.
18 Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a virgin.
20 This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”
21 Under three things the earth trembles; under four it cannot bear up:
22 a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food;
23 an unloved woman when she gets a husband, and a maidservant when she displaces her mistress.
24 Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise:
25 the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer;
26 the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs;
27 the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank;
28 the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings’ palaces.
29 Three things are stately in their tread; four are stately in their stride:
30 the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any;
31 the strutting rooster, the he-goat, and a king whose army is with him.
32 If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.
33 For pressing milk produces curds, pressing the nose produces blood, and pressing anger produces strife.
Day 1: Loving God
The expression “proves true” is a metaphor from metallurgy, referring to some precious metal being refined in the furnace. If what’s inside the furnace is truly a precious metal, it will withstand the heat and remain until the end. Likewise, “every word of God proves true.” There is no dross in Scripture, it’s all gold. None of it will be burned off by fire. Every single word has and will stand the test of time. Do you believe that every word of God is true and reliable? If you bank on God’s Word, no check will ever bounce. For this reason, we are commanded, “Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Because they are God’s words, we have no right to add or subtract from His words (cf. Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19). But if we take refuge in God by trusting in His Word, God will be our shield. We are incapable of attaining this wisdom of God on our own, but God has graciously revealed it to us through His Son who has “ascended to heaven and come down” (v. 4; cf. John 3:13).
Out of this trust in God’s Word, Agur prays in verses 7-9, “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” It’s possible to romanticize poverty out of false humility and spiritual bravado, and it’s possible to idolize wealth out of hidden worldliness, but both extremes reveal a level of self-centered pride. If poverty and suffering are the lot that God intends for us, then they will come and God will sustain us through them, but there is no need for us to go on seeking them, because it will tempt us to “steal and profane the name of … God.” Similarly, if prosperity is the lot that God intends for us, then wealth will come to us without us desiring to be rich, in fact, we shouldn’t desire to be rich, “lest [we] be full and deny [God].” It’s like the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus didn’t teach us to pray, “lead us into the severest temptations so we might triumph over them,” He taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation” (Matt. 6:13). Agur’s prayer is a humble prayer that does not overestimate his own will to be faithful to God, he’d rather not be tempted, lest he fail and bring dishonor to God.
- Spend some time thanking God for all that He has revealed about Himself to you.
- Pray for unwavering faith in God’s Word, and that the truth of God’s Word would prevail in every aspect of your life.
- Pray that God would grant you the wisdom and discernment to know God’s will and ways and live in accordance with them.
- Pray for contentment and humility to live faithfully, whatever our lot God-given lot may be.
Day 2: Loving One Another
In verses 24-28, Agur commends the example of creatures that have significant liabilities, but nevertheless make up for them with other admirable qualities. First, the ants make up for their weakness by their industry. They have foresight enough to store up food during the summer, so that the have enough to eat when the food is scarce in the winter. Second, the rock badgers are a reference to rock hyraxes, rodent-like mammals that “make their homes in the cliffs,” and are, therefore, notable for their attention to security. Though they are weak and incapable of protecting themselves from predators, they provide for their security by essentially creating a fortress for themselves. Third, locusts model order and unity. Though they have no king to lead them, they “march in rank” like a well-disciplined army, and, therefore, can wreak havoc on farmlands. Fourth, the lizard, though it’s not particularly illusive, “you can take [it] in your hands,” “yet it is in kings’ palaces.” The lizard in view is what’s commonly known as the house gecko or the moon lizard, because of its habit of coming out at night under the moonlight. These geckos have no particular strength except that they are unobtrusive and inconspicuous. We might call this their modesty. They are only 3-6 inches long, often live unseen in small crevices, and they are benign to humans. These docile creatures prey on insects like moths, spiders, roaches, termites, and wasps, which can, at times, be destructive to homes. And precisely because they are unobtrusive and inconspicuous, even kings are content to let them inhabit their palaces, though they could easily catch them with their hands.
- Pray that we might be a church that, like the industrious ants, diligently “store[s] up [God’s] word in [our] heart[s], that we might not sin against [Him]” (Ps. 119:11), that we might “Buy truth, and do not sell it” (Prov. 23:23).
- Pray that we might be a church that, like the rock badgers, provides for its security by trusting in the LORD. “The name of the LORD [which] is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Prov. 18:10).
- Pray that we might be a church that, like the locusts, “marches in unity,” especially since we, unlike the locusts, have King Jesus whom we can follow!
- Pray that we might be a church that, like the lizard, is modest and does not exalt itself (v. 32), but instead walks humbly and faithfully with God our King.
- Pray for a long-term, suitable, affordable meeting space for our church.
Day 3: Loving Our Neighbors
In verses 18-20, Agur reflects on the beautiful and graceful ways that things in nature move in accordance with God’s design: The way an eagle, the heaviest bird found in Israel, defies gravity and flies with its majestic 7 feet wingspan, soaring effortlessly in the sky, the way a serpent, though it has no hands or feet to grab hold of anything, glides smoothly on a rock, the way a ship, floating on the high seas, undulates with the rising and falling waves without capsizing, the way a man moves in concert with a virgin during intercours. Then, he contrasts these four “ways” with the forbidden and twisted “way of an adulteress.” Instead of following the God-ordained ways of nature, instead of keeping within the God-given boundaries, the adulteress transgresses these boundaries.
- Pray that our neighbors would repent of their transgressions of the God-ordained ways and boundaries.
- Pray that God would illuminate the eyes of our unbelieving neighbors’ hearts so that they leave their way turn to Christ, the Wisdom of God.
- Pray for protection of our neighborhoods and cities from the spread of COVID-19, during the Thanksgiving break.
- Pray for revival in Cambridge/Boston and New England, that the Spirit of God would move powerfully in our region.