Proverbs 30 was an oration or speech spoken by a man named Agur. Scripture doesn’t mention him elsewhere, but we can see from his beginning words, he was a humble man—one who had a right view of himself.
“I am more stupid than any other person, and I lack a human’s ability to understand. I have not gained wisdom, and I have no knowledge of the Holy One.” Proverbs 30:2-3
In our day, people would feel bad for Agur, declaring, “Poor Agur, he has such a low self-esteem.” But he wasn’t in need of more confidence or a lift in self-esteem. Agur, who was, I’m sure, regarded as wise by others, recognized he still had much to learn. In fact, the more he learned, the more he realized how much knowledge he still lacked. Truly, apart from the Spirit’s work in our lives, none of us have knowledge of God. I love what Charles Spurgeon had to say regarding this:
“One mark of a man’s true wisdom is his knowledge of his ignorance. Have you ever noticed how the clean heart always mourns its uncleanness; and the wise man always laments his folly? It needs holiness to detect our unholiness, and it needs wisdom to discover our own folly. When man talks of his own cleanness, his very lips are foul with pride; and when a man boasts of his wisdom, he proclaims his folly with trumpet sound. Because God had taught Agur much, he felt that he knew but little.”
Spurgeon beautifully explains the experience of a person who truly has a correct view of self. The more wisdom that is placed in our hearts, the more we shall see our lack of it; the more that humility marks our life, the more our pride will be exposed.
A Correct View of God
Agur follows his declaration of his lack of intelligence with a passage that lifts high the name of God.
“Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his hands? Who has bound up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son—if you know? Every word of God is pure; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Don’t add to his words, or he will rebuke you, and you will be proved a liar.” Proverbs 30:4-6
Here is a man who recognizes the enormous difference between himself and God. He is sinful to the bones; God’s holiness exceeds our imagination. He is stupid; God is all-wise. He is creature; God is Creator. He holds no control; God is sovereign over all. Agur has a correct view of God and how we relate to him. All people find who they are by gazing at the beauty of the One “who has gone up to heaven and come down” as He is displayed in His Word. It is there where we find a right view of God and a right view of ourselves.
In the latter half of the chapter, we find many ways humans live when they lack this foundational understanding about God. Here we find slander (v. 10), hatred of parents (vs. 11, 17), impurity (v. 12), pride (v. 13), oppression (v. 14), and adultery (v. 20). Verses 15-16 speak of an Earth never satisfied, and 18-19 speak of things seemingly unsearchable to the human eyes. Could it be to point us to the truth that satisfaction is found only in Christ and, one day, all things covered will be revealed?
Sheol is never satisfied (v. 16). It continually beckons men and women to come. It snatches them as they live their lives apart from God and places them in Hell. The flesh is never satisfied. Sin promises satisfaction but only yields a desire to sin more and more until we die…unless, of course, God steps in and crushes it, setting the sinner free to be satisfied in Christ alone.
Agur finishes his speech with a warning:
“If you have been foolish by exalting yourself or if you’ve been scheming, put your hand over your mouth.” Proverbs 30:32
Here is a call to hush our pride, bow in humility to Christ, and live lives that exalt Him instead. We can join Agur in his prayer: “Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me. Give me neither poverty nor wealth; feed me with the food I need. Otherwise, I might have too much and deny you, saying. ‘Who is the Lord?’ or I might have nothing and steal, profaning the name of my God” (vs. 8-9).
May we grow in wisdom and humility more and more each day as we seek to know this great God whom we serve.