Study Guide

Proverbs Chapter 30

Chapter 30

Agur Gets Existential

  • This next section is entitled "Sayings of Agur, Son of Jakeh" (no one knows who Agur was, but he may have been a non-Israelite, representing Near-Eastern wisdom in a more general way).
  • It begins with a confession of human ignorance—the speaker admits that he doesn't know anything, doesn't understand how the world was made, or how the universe was structured. He lacks wisdom, he says, but ends by saying to God that God surely knows all of this.
  • He says that everything God says comes true, and people shouldn't falsely attribute statements to the divine.
  • In life, Agur says he only wants to be free from falsehood and lying, and to have just enough to live—being free from both poverty and wealth. He asks God for these gifts and says he won't be able to live an upright moral life without them.

Agur's Rogues Gallery

  • Don't slander servants to their masters, says Agur.
  • Also, Agur catalogues all the bad guys out there: people who curse their parents, people who think they lack sin but are actually sinful, people who oppress the poor and steal money and goods from them.
  • People who are leeches end up having their own children prey on them (though the meaning of this passage in Hebrew is somewhat unclear).
  • Agur continues to catalogue different sets of things: four things that are never satisfied—a barren womb, Sheol, the dry earth thirsty for water, and some sort of raging fire that keeps consuming everything.
  • Out of nowhere, he says that an eye that mocks father and mother will be picked out by crows.

When a Man Loves a Woman… It's Really Confusing to Agur 

  • Then he goes back to cataloguing stuff. Agur says three things are too wonderful for him, and four he doesn't understand. The three things that are too wonderful are an eagle in the sky, a snake crawling on a rock, and a ship sailing the sea. The fourth is the way of a man with a woman.
  • He says, again just off-handedly, that an adulteress commits adultery as simply as someone who eats and wipes his or her mouth and says that they've done no wrong.
  • Three things make the earth tremble, and the fourth knocks it out of sorts entirely: a slave who becomes king, a fool who's eaten too much, an unloved woman who gets a husband, and a maid who succeeds her mistress as the new head of household.

Badgers: Masters of Fortification

  • There are four wise animals, even though they're small: ants, who provide food for themselves despite their size; badgers, who own nothing, yet defend themselves by living in the rocks; locusts, who march in rank without having a king; and finally the lizard, who is found in all the palaces of kings.
  • He also praises four beings for their stately stride and gait: the lion, the rooster, the he-goat, and a king who walks in front of his people.
  • If you're saying foolish things or are devising evil, cover your mouth quick.
  • Anger creates strife in the same way that pressing on your nose too much will make it bleed. (We don't recommend you try this at home.)

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