Verses 1-6 Agur speaks of himself as wanting a righteousness, and having done very foolishly. And it becomes us all to have low thoughts of ourselves. He speaks of himself as wanting revelation to guide him in the ways of truth and wisdom. The more enlightened people are, the more they lament their ignorance; the more they pray for clearer, still clearer discoveries of God, and his rich grace in Christ Jesus. In ver. Verse 4 , there is a prophetic notice of Him who came down from heaven to be our Instructor and Saviour, and then ascended into heaven to be our Advocate. The Messiah is here spoken of as a Person distinct from the Father, but his name as yet secret. The great Redeemer, in the glories of his providence and grace, cannot be found out to perfection. Had it not been for Christ, the foundations of the earth had sunk under the load of the curse upon the ground, for man's sin. Who, and what is the mighty One that doeth all this? There is not the least ground to suspect anything wanting in the word of God; adding to his words opens the way to errors and corruptions.
Verses 7-9 Agur wisely prayed for a middle state, that he might be kept at a distance from temptations; he asked daily bread suited to his station, his family, and his real good. There is a remarkable similarity between this prayer and several clauses of the Lord's prayer. If we are removed from vanity and lies; if we are interested in the pardoning love of Christ, and have him for our portion; if we walk with God, then we shall have all we can ask or think, as to spiritual things. When we consider how those who have abundance are prone to abuse the gift, and what it is to suffer want, Agur's prayer will ever be found a wise one, though seldom offered. Food convenient; what is so for one, may not be so for another; but we may be sure that our heavenly Father will supply all our need, and not suffer us to want anything good for us; and why should we wish for more?
Verse 10 Slander not a servant to his master, accuse him not in small matters, to make mischief. ( 11-14 ) . In every age there are monsters of ingratitude who ill-treat their parents. Many persuade themselves they are holy persons, whose hearts are full of sin, and who practise secret wickedness. There are others whose lofty pride is manifest. There have also been cruel monsters in every age. ( 15-17 ) . Cruelty and covetousness are two daughters of the horseleech, that still cry, "Give, give," and they are continually uneasy to themselves. Four things never are satisfied, to which these devourers are compared. Those are never rich that are always coveting. And many who have come to a bad end, have owned that their wicked courses began by despising their parents' authority. ( 18-20 ) . Four things cannot be fully known. The kingdom of nature is full of marvels. The fourth is a mystery of iniquity; the cursed arts by which a vile seducer gains the affections of a female; and the arts which a vile woman uses to conceal her wickedness. ( 21-23 ) Four sorts of persons are very troublesome. Men of low origin and base spirit, who, getting authority, become tyrants. Foolish and violent men indulging in excesses. A woman of a contentious spirit and vicious habits. A servant who has obtained undue influence. Let those whom Providence has advanced from low beginnings, carefully watch against that sin which most easily besets them. ( 24-28 ) . Four things that are little, are yet to be admired. There are those who are poor in the world, and of small account, yet wise for their souls and another world. ( 29-33 ) . We may learn from animals to go well; also to keep our temper under all provocations. We must keep the evil thought in our minds from breaking out into evil speeches. We must not stir up the passions of others. Let nothing be said or done with violence, but every thing with softness and calmness. Alas, how often have we done foolishly in rising up against the Lord our King! Let us humble ourselves before him. And having found peace with Him, let us follow peace with all men.
Proverbs 30:1-33 .
1. This is the title of this chapter
the prophecy--literally, "the burden" (compare Isaiah 13:1 , Zechariah 9:1 ), used for any divine instruction; not necessarily a prediction, which was only a kind of prophecy ( 1 Chronicles 15:27 , "a song"). Prophets were inspired men, who spoke for God to man, or for man to God ( Genesis 20:7 , Exodus 7:14 Exodus 7:15 Exodus 7:16 ). Such, also, were the New Testament prophets. In a general sense, Gad, Nathan, and others were such, who were divine teachers, though we do not learn that they ever predicted.
the man spake--literally, "the saying of the man"; an expression used to denote any solemn and important announcement (compare 2 Samuel 23:1 , Psalms 36:1 , 110:1 , Isaiah 1:24 , &c.). Ithiel and Ucal were perhaps pupils.
2-4. brutish-- stupid, a strong term to denote his lowly self-estimation; or he may speak of such as his natural condition, as contrasted with God's all-seeing comprehensive knowledge and almighty power. The questions of this clause emphatically deny the attributes mentioned to be those of any creature, thus impressively strengthening the implied reference of the former to God (compare Deuteronomy 30:12-14 , Isaiah 40:12 , Ephesians 4:8 ).
5. (Compare Psalms 12:6 , 119:140 ).
6. Add . . . words--implying that his sole reliance was on God's all-sufficient teaching.
reprove thee--or, "convict thee"--and so the falsehood will appear.
7-9. A prayer for exemption from wickedness, and the extremes of poverty and riches, the two things mentioned. Contentment is implied as desired.
8. vanity--all sorts of sinful acts ( Job 11:11 , Isaiah 5:18 ).
9. be full . . . deny-- that is, puffed up by the pride of prosperity.
take the name . . . vain-- This is not (Hebrew) the form (compare Exodus 20:7 ), but "take" rather denotes laying violent hold on any thing; that is lest I assail God's name or attributes, as justice, mercy, &c., which the poor are tempted to do.
10. Accuse not--Slander not ( Psalms 10:7 ).
curse . . . guilty--lest, however lowly, he be exasperated to turn on thee, and your guilt be made to appear.
11-14. Four kinds of hateful persons--(1) graceless children, (2) hypocrites, (3) the proud, (4) cruel oppressors (compare on Proverbs 30:14 , Psalms 14:4 , 52:2 )--are now illustrated; (1) Proverbs 30:15 Proverbs 30:16 , the insatiability of prodigal children and their fate; (2) Proverbs 30:17 , hypocrisy, or the concealment of real character; (3 and 4) Proverbs 30:18-20 , various examples of pride and oppression.
15, 16. horse leech--supposed by some to be the vampire (a fabulous creature), as being literally insatiable; but the other subjects mentioned must be taken as this, comparatively insatiable. The use of a fabulous creature agreeably to popular notions is not inconsistent with inspiration.
There are three . . . yea, four--(Compare Proverbs 6:16 ).
17. The eye--for the person, with reference to the use of the organ to express mockery and contempt, and also as that by which punishment is received.
the ravens . . . eagles . . . eat-- either as dying unnaturally, or being left unburied, or both.
18-20. Hypocrisy is illustrated by four examples of the concealment of all methods or traces of action, and a pertinent example of double dealing in actual vice is added, that is, the adulterous woman.
20. she eateth . . . mouth--that is, she hides the evidences of her shame and professes innocence.
21-23. Pride and cruelty, the undue exaltation of those unfit to hold power, produce those vices which disquiet society (compare Proverbs 19:10 , 28:3 ).
23. heir . . . mistress--that is, takes her place as a wife ( Genesis 16:4 ).
24-31. These verses provide two classes of apt illustrations of various aspects of the moral world, which the reader is left to apply. By the first ( Proverbs 30:25-28 ), diligence and providence are commended; the success of these insignificant animals being due to their instinctive sagacity and activity, rather than strength. The other class ( Proverbs 30:30 Proverbs 30:31 ) provides similes for whatever is majestic or comely, uniting efficiency with gracefulness.
26. conies--mountain mice, or rabbits.
28. spider--tolerated, even in palaces, to destroy flies.
taketh . . . hands--or, uses with activity the limbs provided for taking prey.
32. As none can hope, successfully, to resist such a king, suppress even the thought of an attempt.
lay . . . hand upon thy mouth--"lay" is well supplied ( Judges 18:19 , Job 29:9 , 40:4 ).
33. or other ills, as surely arise from devising evil as natural effects from natural causes.