Thursday, October 24, 2019

Proverbs 30: A Final Appeal

Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him” (Proverbs 30:5).

Our culture is one where complex issues become “sound-bites,” where emotion or “expert opinion” often replaces facts and logic. With its many dictionaries and encyclopedias, our culture encourages us to think ourselves knowledgeable, wise, and understanding.

In Proverbs 30:1–6, Agur, an otherwise unknown wise man, probably from northwest Arabia, raises and answers a problem that should trouble everyone who studies Proverbs; namely, how foolish, ignorant, and stupid we really are.

In Proverbs 30:2–3, Agur laments his stupidity (2a), characterized by his inability to understand people (2b), his failure to learn wisdom (3a), and his ignorance of the holy God (3b). The more he sought wisdom and understanding, the more he realized the depths of his ignorance and foolishness.
Agur then, however, raises a further complication. Where can we find wisdom? Who is mighty enough or wise enough to give true wisdom or knowledge? Who controls the wind or the sea? Who created, and thus understands, the world? Since the answer to these questions is “God,” the real burden is the first question (4a): Who can go up to heaven and bring wisdom back to us?

Agur answers his question by saying that God has not left us to on own abilities, but has given us His tested and true words which will give us His perfect wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (5a). As we trust them we will take refuge in their Source (5b), because God’s Word always points to God Himself.

At the same time, however, we must beware of the temptation to fall back on our own wisdom (1:7; 3:5–6)—especially as we grow in wisdom—and thus try to put our words on a par with His (30:6). Even if we appear to succeed at this, we will eventually be rebuked and our lies (that our own wisdom is as good as God’s) will be revealed.

Agur thus says that we should not despair, but that we should instead persevere in our study of the proverbs, knowing that in them we have the trustworthy Word of God designed to give us the wisdom we lack.

Do you have an inflated sense of your own understanding? Agur calls us to a realistic appraisal of our abilities, warning us against exulting our wisdom. Reread Proverbs 30:1–6, focusing on your tendency to elevate your thoughts to the level of God’s thoughts. Share in Agur’s lament and then thank God for His graciousness in revealing His wisdom.