Proverbs
Introduction 1 The Speaker and the Addressees 2-3 The Confession of Agur 4 God Reveals Himself in His Son 5-6 God Reveals Himself in His Word 7-9 The Prayer of Agur 10 Do Not Slander a Slave to His Master 11-14 Four Apostate Generations 15-16 Four Insatiable Things 17 Mocking a Father and Scorning a Mother 18-20 Four Incomprehensible Things 21-23 Four Things That Are Not to Bear 24-28 Four Little but Wise Animals 29-31 Four with a Stately March 32-33 Pressing Produces Something
Introduction

This chapter owes most of its impressiveness to the author’s deep humility. He confesses that humility in verses 1-91The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:2Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
3Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.4Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!5Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
6Do not add to His words or He will reprove you,
And you will be proved a liar.7Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
8Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9That I not be full
And deny [You] and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
. From this position he shows both his abhorrence of arrogance in all its forms and his fascinating, frank description of his perception of the world and its ways. The groups of people and animals he describes teach us lessons without imposing them. The dominant attitude is that of sharp and often happy interest, which invites us to look again at our world with the eye of a man of faith who is a characterful word artist and observer.


The Speaker and the Addressees

1The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle. The man declares to Ithiel, to Ithiel and Ucal:

We don’t know who has been “Agur”. We do know that he is “the son of Jakeh”, but we don’t know Jakeh either. The fact that his father is named may mean that he is a wise son who has listened to his father’s education. That he is a wise son is clear from the wise words we have of him in this chapter. His father will have rejoiced over his wise son. We have seen this father-son relationship several times in the previous chapters. This relationship forms the basis for the teaching of this book.

The fact that Agur is only mentioned here and is otherwise unknown to us, may mean that it is not so much about his person, but about his “words”. Together with that, he at the same time, is an example to us. We all have a name, but who knows us? Only a few know us. But if our name is linked to our wise words, our name will continue to exist because of our wise words.

The words that Agur has spoken are not just words either. These are words called “the oracle” or “burden”. “Oracle” is a word we often encounter with prophets (Isa 13:11The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.
; 14:2828In the year that King Ahaz died this oracle came:; 15:11The oracle concerning Moab.
Surely in a night Ar of Moab is devastated [and] ruined;
Surely in a night Kir of Moab is devastated [and] ruined.
; 17:11The oracle concerning Damascus.
“Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city
And will become a fallen ruin.
; 19:11The oracle concerning Egypt.
Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt;
The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence,
And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.
; Hab 1:11The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw.
). Agur’s words contain a prophetic message which God’s Spirit has placed on his heart as a burden. He feels the weight of it. He experiences what he writes. This makes him a prophet who speaks to our hearts and our consciences (cf. Jn 4:17-1917The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus *said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’;18for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”19The woman *said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.).

He speaks as “the man”. There is no pomp in him. The arrogant claim ‘that’s how the LORD speaks’ that people sometimes make in order to focus attention on themselves alone, is missing with him. He takes the modest place of a human being, because he knows himself in the presence of God. At the same time, it makes clear that this man is speaking through the Spirit (cf. Num 24:33He took up his discourse and said,
“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened;
; 2Sam 23:11Now these are the last words of David.
David the son of Jesse declares,
The man who was raised on high declares,
The anointed of the God of Jacob,
And the sweet psalmist of Israel,
).

We also don’t know more about Ithiel and Ucal than the names mentioned here. It is possible that they are his children he teaches in the knowledge of Divine things. They can also be students he wants to teach wisdom. In any case, he had to deal with these two people on the basis of personal involvement.

It is striking that he speaks to “Ithiel, Ithiel and Ucal”. He mentions the name of Ithiel twice. As an application it can be seen in this way that he has dealt with questions that were only asked by Ithiel and with questions that were put together by Ithiel and Ucal. His attention is focused on personal questions and on common questions.


The Confession of Agur

2Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
3Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.

When Agur starts his teaching, he does not speak from a high position, from the position of someone who thinks he knows everything and has an answer to everything. He starts by saying of himself that he is more unintelligible than anyone else (verse 22Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
). He also acknowledges that he lacks insight. In verse 44Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!
we see that he comes to this conclusion because he looks up and around and thinks of God. In the light of Who God is and the ways He goes, his mind and his insight are nothing at all. In that light, he assumes that others have more understanding than he does. This is the proof of true understanding and insight.

Whoever recognizes his own inability toward Who God is and what He accomplishes, has the right mind and attitude to teach others. It does not mean that Agur lacked intellectual abilities, but that he acknowledges that he is completely ignorant in relation to the spiritual understanding of life and the questions of life. Only God is perfect in His knowledge and understanding of life, and He alone can communicate it to people.

The psalmist Asaph comes to the same conclusion as Agur in another way: “Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was [like] a beast before You” (Psa 73:2222Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was [like] a beast before You.
). This is the state in which all mankind finds itself. Yet there are only a few who realize this. It is only those who are connected to God by faith and live in a living connection with Him, as we see in Agur and Asaph. Whoever shares in their awareness, feels it so intensely personal, that in his own eyes he seems more ignorant than all other people.

In line with verse 22Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
, he speaks in verse 33Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.
of “wisdom” he did not learn and of “the knowledge of the Holy One” he did not possess. Here he says that the human teaching he has received has not given him wisdom in divine things and in God Himself. By “the Holy One” God is meant.

God is only fully revealed in the New Testament as the triune God. Agur and Solomon did not know that at their time. Yet they may already have felt something of it through the Spirit (see the words “Us” and “Our” in Gen 1:2626Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”). We see this in Agur’s question at the end of verse 44Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!
about “His Name” and “the Name of His Son”.

What he says proves the effect of the Spirit of God in his heart. By this he realizes who he is in himself and what he knows out of himself. He belonged to the darkness in which the mind of man is darkened. For a man with a darkened mind, the insight into what life is, is nothing more than to wander around in the darkness. Therefore it was not possible to learn wisdom or to learn anything from the knowledge of the Holy God.

What he says is that God’s wisdom is so great that in comparison with it he has learned nothing from it. The deeper a person penetrates into the mystery of wisdom, that is in Who God and Christ are, the more he becomes aware of how little he knows. It is wisdom to know the limits of reason and wisdom. As believers we may know the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, while at the same time there is the deep awareness that that love “surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:18-1918may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,19and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.).


God Reveals Himself in His Son

4Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!

Agur makes it clear through six questions that he – and this applies to every human being – is indeed totally ignorant of God and the Divine things. These questions emphasize the actions of God and show that it is absurd for a mortal to think that he can explain God’s work or compare himself to God. They prove the exaltedness of God and the complete inability of man (cf. Isa 40:1212Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
And marked off the heavens by the span,
And calculated the dust of the earth by the measure,
And weighed the mountains in a balance
And the hills in a pair of scales?
; Deu 30:11-1411“For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach.12It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’13Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?’14But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it.; Rom 10:6-76But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down),7or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”; Eph 4:99(Now this [expression], “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?).

It is undeniable that “heaven” is there, above us, and that man’s interest has been in heaven since time immemorial. The journey to the moon shows his longing for knowledge. His investigation of heaven, which he carries out from earth, gives him the awareness that he scribbles only at the hem of the universe. And going to heaven to take a look at it, is a lot different. Whoever did that? Or who came down from it to tell something of its secrets?

We know that Christ ascended into heaven. This happened after He had completed the work of redemption on the cross, had been in death, and had risen. From there He sent the Holy Spirit. In the Spirit He comes down to tell what is in heaven (Jn 14:1818“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.; 16:13-1513But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.14He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose [it] to you.15All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose [it] to you.). When the Lord Jesus was on earth, He could say: “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man“ (Jn 3:1313No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.). He Who, after His work on the cross, was to ascend to heaven, was when He was on earth at the same time in heaven. That was so because He is the only begotten Son of God. He is the answer to the questions of Agur.

When we look under heaven, here on earth, we see things there too that man cannot grasp or control. The invisible “wind” is elusive and its power irresistible, but not to Him. In spiritual application the wind represents difficulties that enter in our lives. We have no influence on this, but we may know that Christ also has the wind in our lives in His hand.

The same applies to the tangible “waters”, over which man has no control at all. Waters speak of trials that may come into our lives and in which we feel we are drowning. But He is with us in the waters of trial (Isa 43:22“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
). And what to think of “all the ends of the earth”, who “determined” it, or gave it stability? Here too He is the answer. He gives our life stability.

The atmosphere (wind), the liquid (waters) and the solid (ends of the earth), everything is beyond man’s control. Yet they are controlled. Agur asks for the Name of Him Who does this and for the Name of His Son. The “Name” and the “Name of His Son” are rightly written in capital letters, for Agur speaks of God. But God is still so incomprehensible to him, so inimitable, so full of secrets. To ask for the Name is to ask for the Being, for His features and attributes. Who will be able to know it fully?

He also asks for the Name of His Son. If God is so exalted and so incomprehensible, is there perhaps Someone Who can represent Him? Is there perhaps someone who can speak for God, or explain Him? His question does show that he lives very close to God and feels that there may be a Son who shares in the attributes of God because He is His Son. We must remember that the Son does not speak for God, but that He speaks as God, for He is God.

God “has spoken to us in [His] Son in these last days” (Heb 1:1-21God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,2in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.). The prophets were people through whom God addressed Himself to His people. But the Lord Jesus, the Son, is not a means through whom God speaks. The speaking of the Lord Jesus is the speaking of God Himself! The prophets spoke on behalf of God. The Lord Jesus did not speak on behalf of God, but in His capacity as God. Certainly He did so as Man on earth, but that Man is God the Son. God Himself speaks as the Divine Person and that Person is the Son.

As remarked above, the truth of the triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is only fully revealed in the New Testament. Here, in the Old Testament, that is still hidden. We know that the Lord Jesus is the eternal Son to whom God has not transferred certain qualities, but Who is completely one with Him and has revealed Him completely on earth: “The only begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father, Who has explained [Him]” (Jn 1:1818No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [Him].). At the same time, for us too, it remains an unfathomable mystery of Who the Son really is, for “no one knows the Son except the Father” (Mt 11:2727All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal [Him].).

For us, the questions of verse 44Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!
have been answered in the New Testament. There we see that they are about God and His revelation in the Son. Wherever God reveals Himself, He does so in the Son. We also see that the Son is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Jn 1:1-31In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.2He was in the beginning with God.3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.; Col 1:1616For by Him all things were created, [both] in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.; Heb 1:22in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.). Everything is under His control and He brings creation to the goal He has set Himself. God will once submit everything to His feet (Heb 2:88You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him.) because He has accomplished the work of salvation.


God Reveals Himself in His Word

5Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
6Do not add to His words or He will reprove you,
And you will be proved a liar.

From his questions about God in relation to creation, Agur switches to the words of God, to what God has said (verse 55Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
). God reveals Himself in creation and He reveals Himself in His Word. Agur knows that God’s Word contains the answers to the questions he has just asked. God can only be known by His Word, for therein He reveals Himself fully, while in creation He only shows His eternal power and Divinity (Rom 1:2020For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.).

With Agur there is no doubt whatsoever about anything God has said. “Every word” God has spoken, without one exception, “is tested”, it is pure, immaculate (Psa 12:66The words of the LORD are pure words;
As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.
). Tested means that it has endured every test of fire and that its uncontaminated purity has been demonstrated. It also means that the whole Word of God is reliable. Nothing in it is deceitful or false, whether it is history, commandments, promises, or threats.

The second half of the verse gives the enormous value of the Word for our daily lives. Whoever is convinced of the value of the Word will “take refuge in Him”. Here we see the identification of the Word with the Person of the Son. We also see this identification in Hebrews 4, where we read that no creature is invisible to the Word of God (Heb 4:12-1312For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.). For those who take refuge in the Word, which is in the Son, the Word is, He is, a shield. If we are tested in our faith, God’s Word and His promises will prove to be a shield and protection. It is safe to hide in Him, what we do when we read and keep His Word (Psa 18:3030As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the LORD is tried;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
).

The trust mentioned in verse 55Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
is followed by a warning in verse 66Do not add to His words or He will reprove you,
And you will be proved a liar.
not to add anything to the words of God (Deu 4:22You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.; 12:3232“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.; Rev 22:18-1918I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.). This tendency is all too often present. The Word does not need to be checked for errors or completeness. It is faultless and complete. What has been proven to be pure becomes impure again through an addition.

Whoever adds is conceited and attributes divinity to himself. Every addition of foreign elements makes it impure. Whoever does so, proves that he is a liar, someone who is not in the truth. Additions we see, for example, when human writings about the Bible are in practice given the same authority as the Scriptures or even prevail over the interpretation of the Bible. Of the latter, the (theistic) theory of evolution is an example.


The Prayer of Agur

7Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
8Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9That I not be full
And deny [You] and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

After God’s revelation in creation (verse 44Who has ascended into heaven and descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has wrapped the waters in His garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!
) and in His Word (verses 5-65Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
6Do not add to His words or He will reprove you,
And you will be proved a liar.
) comes prayer (verse 77Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
). Word and prayer always go together. Agur has expressed his absolute trust in God’s Word. Now he turns to God in prayer. He lives with the God Whom he trusts and with Whom he hides. Through his prayer he takes up the position of someone who is dependent on God. He has no confidence in himself, but all confidence in God. In this trust he prays a short and powerful prayer.

He asked for “two things”. He will call them shortly, but first he asks if God doesn’t want to keep him from these two things before he dies. “Before I die”, means for as long as I live. By saying it, Agur shows that he lives in the awareness that life on earth is finite, and also that it comes down to perseverance until the end. The thought of dying also means that he will have to account for what he has done in his life. Agur wants to live for the glory of God and not to be condemned by Him.

What Agur says in verses 8-98Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9That I not be full
And deny [You] and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
shows great self-knowledge. He was aware of the dangers of sin. First of all, he recognized the danger of “falsehood” in his heart and “false language” in his mouth (verse 8a8Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
). Here it is about the mind, the interior, the motives. It is about sin and lies through which sin is expressed, about forgery in thinking and lies in speaking.

His prayer is that God will keep it far from him. He told his children or pupils Ithiel and Ucal in verse 66Do not add to His words or He will reprove you,
And you will be proved a liar.
that they should not add anything to God’s Word so that they would not prove to be liars. Now he himself acknowledges his weakness and tendency to sin and asks God not to lead him into temptation, but to keep him from evil and his influences (Mt 6:1313‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
). Whoever warns others must pray that he himself will be saved from the evil for which he warns others.

Agur acknowledges that only God’s grace can save him from it. He knows that he is capable of falsehood and lies and that he has no strength in himself to resist this. But with God this power is present. Thus he finds peace in God with regard to these dangers.

But there are other dangers as well, dangers that lie more in the circumstances in which the motives or the character may be in danger (verse 8b8Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
). He wants balance in his material circumstances. He does not seek great things in life. In concrete terms, he asks if God does not give him poverty nor wealth. What he wants is that God will feed him with the “the food that is my portion”.

The portion is the daily bread, which is needed daily. It corresponds to what the Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Mt 6:1111‘Give us this day our daily bread.
). More is riches, less is poverty (cf. 1Tim 6:88If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.). Agur does not mind about poverty or riches in itself, for God can make rich and poor, but about what is connected with it, where it can lead to. He speaks about this in verse 99That I not be full
And deny [You] and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
.

Agur desires the happiest way of life. Poverty and riches both have their dangers. He wants to be free from the worries of poverty and he does not want to be vulnerable to temptations associated with riches. Being kept from both dangers is the best way to serve God.

He does not prescribe as if this is the only way a person can be happy and serve God. God can make someone rich. Then such a person may serve God with his riches. If God makes someone poor, he may trust in God in his circumstances. Paul has learned to deal with both circumstances (Phil 4:1212I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.).

In verse 99That I not be full
And deny [You] and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
he says what the dangers of both wealth and poverty are. If he were to end up in either of these dangers, it could lead him to sin. As a result, his life would no longer produce fruit for God. He then resembles seed sown between the thorns, about which the Lord Jesus says in the parable of the sower: “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mt 13:2222And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.). “The deceitfulness of wealth” is found in “full”, and “the worry of the world” is found in “in want”.

Agur recognizes that if he has too much, he is in danger of becoming independent of God, of no longer needing Him and thereby denying Him (Deu 8:11-1411“Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;12otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived [in them],13and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies,14then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.). If he did deny Him, he would do so as if he were a rebellious unbeliever like the Pharaoh, who also said, “Who is the LORD?” (Exo 5:22But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go.”). The challenging question “Who is the LORD?” means that someone does not feel obliged to Him, can live without Him and has enough in himself. Agur’s desire not to have too much is related to his contact with the LORD. His thinking is about God.

The danger associated with poverty lies more in doing what is wrong. Poverty implies the great temptation to be dishonest and to steal. What would you do if you have a gnawing hunger and see something edible somewhere that belongs to someone else? You can also tell yourself that the other person can do without it and you need it to stay alive. Maybe it is even for your children who are hungry. Then it seems justified in every way. But stealing can never be justified, how much it can sometimes be understood in case of hunger (Pro 6:30-3130Men do not despise a thief if he steals
To satisfy himself when he is hungry;
31But when he is found, he must repay sevenfold;
He must give all the substance of his house.
).

Why is Agur afraid to steal? Because he would end up in prison? No, he is afraid to steal because it would affect the Name of God. Agur was known as a faithful, God-fearing believer. What insult would he cast upon the Name of God if he were to steal? He emphatically calls God “my God”, which indicates that he lives in a personal and living relationship with Him. Therefore, he cannot bear the thought that he would violate his confession of that Name by a sinful act. That is why he asks God not to put him in such a situation of poverty. As with the danger of riches, we see that the danger of poverty is about God in his thinking.

Agur is the rare example of someone who knows his weakness and openly confesses it. He pronounces that he does not trust himself. We are well able to talk in general terms and say that man cannot be trusted. But it is something else to say: ‘I don’t trust myself.’ Agur did not trust himself, but he did trust God.

We have seen Agur acknowledging his own ignorance (verses 2-32Surely I am more stupid than any man,
And I do not have the understanding of a man.
3Neither have I learned wisdom,
Nor do I have the knowledge of the Holy One.
) and calling upon God’s Word for safety in life (verses 5-65Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
6Do not add to His words or He will reprove you,
And you will be proved a liar.
). We have also seen him praying that God will keep him from falling in temptation (verses 7-97Two things I asked of You,
Do not refuse me before I die:
8Keep deception and lies far from me,
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
Feed me with the food that is my portion,
9That I not be full
And deny [You] and say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or that I not be in want and steal,
And profane the name of my God.
). He has spoken of his ignorance, but his appeal to God’s Word and his prayer bear witness to great wisdom and knowledge. In this he is much wiser and has much more knowledge than man in general. He recognizes the danger of poverty and he knows the serious dangers of wealth, on which man so easily relies, forgetting that he owes everything to God.

This prayer is reminiscent of that of Jabez (1Chr 4:1010Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep [me] from harm that [it] may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.), but as an opposition. Perhaps we should admit that we are more inclined to pray the prayer of Jabez than this prayer of Agur.


Do Not Slander a Slave to His Master

10Do not slander a slave to his master,
Or he will curse you and you will be found guilty.

The life of a slave who does not already have privileges, should not be made even harder by accusing him to his master of things he has not done, with the hope that he will suffer even more. The master will not thank anyone like that for that. He will revenge the one who tried to do this evil. He will let it return on his own head in the form of a curse and declare him guilty of slander.

In spiritual application, this verse fits in well with Agur’s prayer. He has prayed for himself before God without at the same time denouncing others who are not like him. It is not for him to judge someone else’s relationship with his Lord. Paul points out to the believers in Rome the personal relationship that each had with the Lord (Rom 14:44Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.). Judging the slave of another means stepping into the rights of his lord, which for us means: the exclusive rights of the Lord Jesus. We do not have to accuse our fellow slaves before the Lord Jesus (cf. Phlm 1:10-1110I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment,11who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.; cf. Deu 23:15-1615“You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you.16He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.).


Four Apostate Generations

11There is a kind of [man] who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
12There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
13There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised [in arrogance].
14There is a kind of [man] whose teeth are [like] swords
And his jaw teeth [like] knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.

Agur lists four things six times in verses 11-3111There is a kind of [man] who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
12There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
13There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised [in arrogance].
14There is a kind of [man] whose teeth are [like] swords
And his jaw teeth [like] knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.15The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:
16Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “Enough.”17The eye that mocks a father
And scorns a mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young eagles will eat it.18There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
four which I do not understand:
19The way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
and the way of a man with a maid.
20This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
and says, “I have done no wrong.”21Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
22Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
23Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.24Four things are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
25The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;
26The shephanim are not mighty people,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
27The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in ranks;
28The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
Yet it is in kings’ palaces.29There are three things which are stately in [their] march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
30The lion [which] is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
31The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king [when his] army is with him.
. With this he draws the world as it functions after the fall. He begins with four generations that have the characteristics of the devil, their father. Every verse of verses 11-1411There is a kind of [man] who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
12There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
13There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised [in arrogance].
14There is a kind of [man] whose teeth are [like] swords
And his jaw teeth [like] knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.
begins with the Hebrew word dor, which is “generation”, that is, a class of people characterized by certain characteristics.

Agur observed the characteristic features of the people around him. Generations are therefore not successive descendants. They can, so to speak, take place in the life of one person. In the four generations he describes, we see a gradual increase in depravity. It goes from bad to worse:
1. Revolt against authority, no respect for parents (verse 1111There is a kind of [man] who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
).
2. Blindness regarding their real moral condition and their sinful life (verse 1212There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
).
3. Arrogance and pride (verse 1313There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised [in arrogance].
).
4. Aggressiveness and oppression of the poor (verse 1414There is a kind of [man] whose teeth are [like] swords
And his jaw teeth [like] knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.
).

The first characteristic of a generation that does not recognize God is the contemptuous rejection of parental authority (verse 1111There is a kind of [man] who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
). They are people who do not fear God and do not care about the authority given by Him. On the contrary, they curse it. They have no natural love for their parents, there is no respect for them.

They curse their father who conceived them. Their mother, who has carried and tenderly cared for them, does not receive a single word of thanks from them. “Does not bless” is a soothing expression, which also means ‘cursing’. It is one of the characteristics of the last days that children disobey their parents (2Tim 3:1-51But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.). We see the actuality of it around us.

Sin begins in the family, in the attitude towards the parents. The beginning of all deviation is the renunciation of God’s authority in family relationships. We are commanded to honor our parents because they have been God’s instruments to create us. Without them, we would not exist. Not recognizing that we owe our lives to our parents and that as a result we are obligated to honor them means that we do not recognize God as our Creator Whom we are obligated to praise. In our world full of disrupted families and broken families, this saying sounds like a destructive condemnation.

A generation that has renounced God’s authority by the parents sees itself as pure (verse 1212There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
). This is the second characteristic of a generation that does not recognize God. The cause is that they have not been washed from their filth. That means they see their filth as purity. How foolish and blind is such a generation. “Filthiness” often refers to physical impurity, but here it is moral defilement (cf. Zec 3:3-43Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel.4He spoke and said to those who were standing before him, saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, “See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.”). This filthiness is neither physical nor can it be washed away by any human means (Job 9:30-3130“If I should wash myself with snow
And cleanse my hands with lye,
31Yet You would plunge me into the pit,
And my own clothes would abhor me.
; Jer 2:2222“Although you wash yourself with lye
And use much soap,
The stain of your iniquity is before Me,” declares the Lord GOD.
). The filthiness of sin can only be washed away by the blood of the Lamb and the Name of the Lord Jesus and the Spirit of God (Rev 7:1414I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.; 1Cor 6:1111Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.).

These people are proud to perceive the outward religious rituals, but not to pay any attention to the inner purification (Lk 11:3939But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness.). They are busy with a clean exterior, but blind to their corrupt inner self. Everyone sees the filthiness except they themselves. They are clean in their own eyes and completely blind to their own shortcomings (Lk 18:1111The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.). But God sees the filthiness from outside and inside.

It is the generation that claims that filthiness is no longer filthiness, but clean. The open promotion, proclamation, and acceptance of homosexual expressions and connections, such as through the gay pride, is one of the most obvious examples. If God and His Word disappear from view because they are removed, the standard by which everything should be measured has disappeared. We must have the original to see the deviations. Only the Holy Spirit can convince us of sin.

Whoever is pure in his own eyes (verse 1212There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
) looks down with despise on others (verse 1313There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised [in arrogance].
), the third characteristic of this generation. This generation radiates pride, arrogance and brutality. They look down on their neighbor with contempt, while showing off like peacocks. They think they are stealing the show while making themselves despicable in God’s eye. It is a generation of proud people who pour out their contempt on anyone who resists them (cf. Psa 131:11A Song of Ascents, of David.
O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;
Nor do I involve myself in great matters,
Or in things too difficult for me.
).

The fourth and last characteristic of that generation is cruelty (verse 1414There is a kind of [man] whose teeth are [like] swords
And his jaw teeth [like] knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.
). The pictures of the first half of the verse symbolize their cruel rampages. Their teeth are like swords and their jaw teeth like knives. The second part of the verse shows who their victims are. Like a voracious and insensitive beast, they open their ripping mouth to “devour the afflicted from the earth and the needy from among men” (Amos 8:44Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land,). Those who exploit and destroy other people are like animals.

It is a generation without compassion. The highly acclaimed tolerance they advertise is only a varnish. They demand it only for themselves. Everyone must accept them, but they themselves do not accept any other opinion. There is no trace of mercy in them, but only tearing brutality. We see this in the killing of children in the womb and the killing by euthanasia of the elderly or of those who are suffering ‘unbearably and hopelessly’.

Because of his belief in the theory of evolution, man thinks he is a higher developed animal. In reality he sinks deeper and deeper and decays to a behavior that can only be compared with that of the cruelest animals. He shows the characteristics of a ripping animal.  He even surpasses that animal in cruelty, because he acts consciously and justifies his violent, cruel behavior by giving a twist to it that it is actually a good thing to act like that. It is the deepest form of depravity. The fact that man is the picture of the Creator who gives life and maintains it, has completely disappeared here. Every relation with Him is broken. The human being has changed into a predator with Satan as his model, who is a murderer from the beginning.


Four Insatiable Things

15The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:
16Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “Enough.”

The four generations mentioned above (verses 11-1411There is a kind of [man] who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
12There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes,
Yet is not washed from his filthiness.
13There is a kind—oh how lofty are his eyes!
And his eyelids are raised [in arrogance].
14There is a kind of [man] whose teeth are [like] swords
And his jaw teeth [like] knives,
To devour the afflicted from the earth
And the needy from among men.
) are the leeches of verse 1515The leech has two daughters, “Give,” “Give.”
There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:
. The leech is the symbol of greed. He sucks blood through the suction cups at both ends of his body. Agur calls her “two daughters” here, one named “Give” and the other also named “Give”. The name “Give” is a “brand name” that you can stick on any form of greed. It is always about nothing but the satisfaction of a desire that in reality is never satisfied. Always the desire for more or different remains.

Satan is the great bloodsucker. He sucks life out of people. The instruments he uses for this are the ‘two daughters’ who are also leeches. The expression “three, ... four” (verses 18,21,2918There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
four which I do not understand:
21Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
29There are three things which are stately in [their] march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
) is a Hebrew expression indicating that it is not something incidental, but something more common.

The “three things” are Satan and his ‘daughters’. This can be applied to the sinful desires of a human being, for they never say, “It is enough.” Satan and his daughters are insatiable leeches. To illustrate the dark nature of the sinful, insatiable desires of man, Agur uses “four” examples. So there are two daughters, three insatiable things, and four things that never say, “It is enough.”

The first example of what is insatiable is “sheol”, the realm of the dead (verse 1616Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “Enough.”
; Hab 2:55“Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man,
So that he does not stay at home.
He enlarges his appetite like Sheol,
And he is like death, never satisfied.
He also gathers to himself all nations
And collects to himself all peoples.
). The realm of the dead is like a house that is always open and where there is always room when someone has died. Numerous have preceded us since the fall. Never will the door close with a sign saying: Full. The door of that house closes only when eternity arrives and death and hades are thrown into the pool of fire (Rev 20:1414Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.). This is not because sheol is full, but because there is no one left who can enter it.

The second example is “the barren womb”. She always takes up the seed again, but never gets the satisfaction she desires to give life to a child (Gen 30:11Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.”; 1Sam 1:2-82He had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.3Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the LORD there.4When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters;5but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the LORD had closed her womb.6Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb.7It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat.8Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”). Her womb is thus equal to sheol.

The third example is the earth or a dry land. “Earth” that “is never satisfied with water”, will absorb water with the greatest eagerness, and will never say that it is enough (cf. Psa 63:1-21A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
). Poured out water is a symbol of the pouring out of life, which always continues (2Sam 14:1414For we will surely die and are like water spilled on the ground which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away life, but plans ways so that the banished one will not be cast out from him.). In this way this example can also be linked to death.

The fourth example is “the fire”. The fire is never satisfied with what it can digest. It devours everything it encounters on its way and continues to do so insatiably as long as there is something that is flammable. Also everything that is thrown in is eaten up by the flames. Never do flames reach a point that they give back what was thrown in them because they have had enough. This is reminiscent of hell, the eternal fire, a fire that never comes to an end that always keeps burning and is not satiated forever.

Only the Creator can satisfy the deepest desires of a person, this is a life in communion with Him. Only He can fill the emptiness of the heart He created just to fulfill the desire for Him.


Mocking a Father and Scorning a Mother

17The eye that mocks a father
And scorns a mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young eagles will eat it.

It is not excluded that one who is not satiable may fall to the lowest sin, which is mocking and scorning the parents. As if they were to blame for the fact that his desires, which could not be satisfied, are not satisfied. Agur thus returned to the first characteristic of the generation in the midst of which he lives (verse 1111There is a kind of [man] who curses his father
And does not bless his mother.
). Here he speaks of “the eye that mocks a father”. The eye reveals the inner attitude of the heart, and that eye is full of contempt. The contempt is deep. This is also evident from the scorn he has for “the mother” by not obeying her. God watches with which eyes a child looks at his parents.

The punishment is in accordance with sin. The eye that radiates so much mockery and scorn, will first be picked out by “the ravens of the valley”. Then it will be eaten by “the young eagles”. We can consider the picking out of the eye and eat it literally. It points to the dying of an early death, after which the body is not buried, but given to the birds of prey. God makes sure that these birds will pounce upon the eyes of this sinner. This judgment also confirms that such a person is blind to God as Creator. This severe punishment is applied to him who looks at his parents with such scorn.


Four Incomprehensible Things

18There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
four which I do not understand:
19The way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
and the way of a man with a maid.
20This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
and says, “I have done no wrong.”

Agur now looks at nature, where many things are wonderful and at the same time “too wonderful” or incomprehensible (verse 1818There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
four which I do not understand:
). Four times it is about “the way of” as an illustration of the ways God goes in creation and with people (Rom 11:33b33Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!). Agur cites a few examples as an anthology. We know that God only includes in His Word what is important to us. So we may expect that we can learn lessons from these examples. Not that these lessons are always immediately clear to us, but that is typical of the book of Proverbs. We have to think about things, including things of which we have to say that they “are too wonderful for me” and of which we have to acknowledge “I do not understand”.

It is not easy to discover what the four things have in common (verse 1919The way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
and the way of a man with a maid.
). They are connected by the use of the word “way” and also by a sense of mystery and incomprehensibility. All four of them go a way that cannot be traced. When they have shown themselves, they disappear again without leaving a trace. Of the areas where they go their way, there are three geographical (air, land and sea) and one social (marriage relationship). The first three serve as illustrations of the fourth. The fourth is also the greatest miracle.

When we observe “the way of the eagle in the sky”, we are impressed. We can’t know in advance which way he is going. And when he has gone that way, we don’t see a trace of it again. The same goes for “the way of a serpent on a rock”. We can look at the fast and targeted movement of a reptile without feet. But we can’t predict what way he will take over the rock. When he crawls away in a crevice, he has left no trace of the way he has gone.

“The way of a ship in the middle of the sea” is just as unpredictable. There is no marked out path which makes it predictable which way the ship will go. When it has passed and the water behind it has calmed down, there is no trace left of the way it has gone. The movements of these three are beautiful to see. They focus our attention on the majestic and mysterious movements in the air, on the land and on the sea.

After covering the areas of air, land and sea, our attention is drawn to “the way of a man with a maid”. Herein we see the designation of the miracle of the attraction between a man and a woman and of unification in sexual intercourse. How a man gets love for a girl is a miracle that cannot be described in advance. And when the time comes for him to seek contact, it is also impossible to predict how that will go. Perhaps “the way of a man with a maid” is mainly about the most intimate part of the marriage relationship. That is completely cut off from any perception. It is the secret between two people, of which no one else knows anything.

We can make another spiritual application of the four “ways” described here. The way of the eagle in the sky can be connected to the coming of the Son of God from heaven to declare God on earth. It also shows His way back to heaven. This cannot be understood by the natural man (Jn 6:60-6360Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard [this] said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”61But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?62[What] then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?63It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.).

Also the way of the serpent on the rock is incomprehensible. What is the way chosen by the serpent, the devil (Rev 12:99And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.), to enter the creation created by the righteous God, Who is a Rock and free from deceit (see Deu 32:44“The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He.
)? And what is the way the serpent is constantly going and moving in God’s creation? How is it possible that the evil one can constantly come into God’s presence to accuse the brethren (Rev 12:1010Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.; cf. Job 1:6-126Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.7The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”8The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”9Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing?10Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.11But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.”12Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD.; 2:1-61Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD.2The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”3The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.”4Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.5However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.”6So the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.”)? We also see the way of the serpent on the rock in Satan’s attempts to tempt the Lord Jesus, the Rock (1Cor 10:44and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.; Mt 4:1-111Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.2And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”5Then the devil *took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,6and *said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written,
‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’;
and
‘ON [their] HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,
SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
7Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”8Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;9and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”10Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”11Then the devil *left Him; and behold, angels came and [began] to minister to Him.
). He left no trace in Christ, for he found nothing in Him (Jn 14:3030I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;).

In the ship in the middle of the sea we can see the church among the nations of the world. The church has now sailed through the sea of nations (Isa 17:12-1312Alas, the uproar of many peoples
Who roar like the roaring of the seas,
And the rumbling of nations
Who rush on like the rumbling of mighty waters!
13The nations rumble on like the rumbling of many waters,
But He will rebuke them and they will flee far away,
And be chased like chaff in the mountains before the wind,
Or like whirling dust before a gale.
) for two thousand years. All this time the evil one has tried to destroy the church in order to make her suffer shipwreck. But she has been preserved in an inimitable way throughout all efforts (Mt 16:1818I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.), for God leads her. God’s way with His church is in the sea (cf. Psa 77:19-2019Your way was in the sea
And Your paths in the mighty waters,
And Your footprints may not be known.
20You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.
).

The way of a man with a maid leads us to the way of the Lord Jesus with His church. The way He has gone to possess her is inimitable. How did He take our hearts, how did we get the new life? We cannot verify this (Jn 3:88The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”), we can only conclude. His love for us brought Him into the greatest suffering, into the anxieties of Gethsemane and the horrors of the cross, especially in the three hours of darkness, when He was made sin and His God had to leave Him. We can only worship Him for that.

We neither can verify how He is constantly engaged with and for His church. We know that He does so through His Word (Eph 5:25-2725Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.), but not in a way that we can perceive. Maybe He will tell us and show us when we are with Him. Then we will know as we have been known (1Cor 13:1212For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.).

Another way is described in verse 2020This is the way of an adulterous woman:
She eats and wipes her mouth,
and says, “I have done no wrong.”
. This way is in stark contrast to the way of love of the previous verse. It is “the way of an adulterous woman”. She also doesn’t leave any trace of her unfaithfulness. Here again we find the opposition that goes through the whole Book of Proverbs, the opposition between Wisdom and folly, between the faithful woman and the unfaithful woman. This contrast is also found in Revelation, between the wife of the Lamb, the church, and the great Babylon, the great harlot, the mother of the harlots (Rev 17:1-61Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,2with whom the kings of the earth committed [acts of] immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.”3And he carried me away in spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.4The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality,5and on her forehead a name [was] written, a mystery, “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”6And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.; 19:1-81After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;2because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her.”3And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! Her smoke rises up forever and ever.”4And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!”5And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.”6Then I heard [something] like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.7Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride [lit wife] has made herself ready.”8It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright [and] clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.).

The latter indicates that we can also apply this verse spiritually. The verse shows that the love that Christ has revealed to the church is answered with unfaithfulness by the church. We see how Christianity, horrifyingly, is becoming increasingly unfaithful to Him Whom it confesses as its Lord. She connects herself in the most intimate way with the world by bringing in all kinds of worldly methods and adapting God’s Word to the vision of modern man.

The fact that this verse was placed immediately after verse 1919The way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship in the middle of the sea,
and the way of a man with a maid.
supports the idea that the preceding verse is focused on sexual intimacy in marriage. The pictures that she eats and wipes her mouth are a covered indication of sexual activity (cf. Pro 9:1717“Stolen water is sweet;
And bread [eaten] in secret is pleasant.”
). What she does in her unfaithfulness is nothing more than a dinner for her. She removes all traces of the sin she committed and continues her daily activities as if nothing had happened.

It is astonishing that people can sin and then very easily shake off a sense of guilt or responsibility. This is only possible because there is a callous indifference to what the Lord’s will is for sexuality.


Four Things That Are Not to Bear

21Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
22Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
23Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.

The common element in verses 21-2321Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
22Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
23Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.
is what is unbearable. Agur gives four examples of this, which are equally divided between the two sexes. Each example indicates the abuse of power and prosperity obtained by persons who will take or receive a position that is inappropriate for them. They go against the order God has established. If God’s order is reversed, this will cause the earth to quake (verse 2121Under three things the earth quakes,
And under four, it cannot bear up:
). They can’t bear up under that. It makes the whole of society unstable. The maintenance of God’s order brings stability and peace. In this way He wants everything in the church to happen “properly and in an orderly manner”, that is to say with His order (1Cor 14:4040But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.).

The first example is that of “a servant when he becomes king” (verse 22a22Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
). For a servant to reign s not meant for him. If he gets that place anyway, it becomes a mess in the land, because he simply has no understanding of it. He who suddenly is elevated in his status, becomes an unbearable person. Everything starts to quake, because there is no clear government anymore. Such a change shakes the order of life. In the church everything also quakes when someone who is supposed to serve starts to rule (3Jn 1:9-109I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say.10For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire [to do so] and puts [them] out of the church.).

The second example is that of “a fool when he is satisfied with food” (verse 22b22Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
). It is a lazy fool. The fool excludes God by definition. That makes him foolish. To feed such a man until he is completely full of it, turns the order of God upside down. Someone who does not want to work will not eat either (2Thes 3:1010For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.). If you do feed such a person, then he is not only feeling satisfied in his belly, but also full of arrogant self-satisfaction. Because he is satisfied, he doesn’t think about going to work. He spends his time proclaiming and performing follies. With such a person the chaos only gets worse.

The third person among whom the earth trembles is “an unloved woman, when she gets a husband” (verse 23a23Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.
). An unloved woman means a woman who has nothing attractive, she has a bad character. That appears as soon as she is married. Then she takes control of the family. She does not use the power she has for good, but for evil. The relationships in the family are disturbed. Underneath that the earth quakes.

The fourth person is “a maidservant when she supplants her mistress” (verse 23b23Under an unloved woman when she gets a husband,
And a maidservant when she supplants her mistress.
). She is similar to the servant who becomes king in verse 22a22Under a slave when he becomes king,
And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
. The possessions she inherits suddenly give her a whole new life. She was a maidservant, but suddenly she feels like a mistress because of the inheritance. Instead of obeying, she now gives orders. This cannot be borne by those with whom she used to serve her mistress.


Four Little but Wise Animals

24Four things are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
25The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;
26The shephanim are not mighty people,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
27The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in ranks;
28The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
Yet it is in kings’ palaces.

What the “four” which are “small on the earth” have in common is wisdom (verse 2424Four things are small on the earth,
But they are exceedingly wise:
). The four little animals Agur mentions know how to deal with their natural disadvantages or limitations in order to survive. This instinct is placed in them by the Creator. He has made them “exceedingly wise”. How great is His wisdom! Man is naturally inclined to admire what is great, strong, and impressive. Here we see that this is not the case for God, not even in creation. We must not despise the weak things in creation, but learn from them. In God’s creation, God’s wisdom manifests itself in different ways. People can thus learn the value of wisdom (Job 12:77“But now ask the beasts, and let them teach you;
And the birds of the heavens, and let them tell you.
).

These little animals are “not a strong people” (verse 2525The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;
), “not mighty people” (verse 2626The shephanim are not mighty people,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
), they have “no king” (verse 2727The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in ranks;
), and without defense (verse 2828The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
Yet it is in kings’ palaces.
). The same goes for the church in the world. The church is weak, but in Christ all wisdom is available to her (1Cor 1:26-29,3026For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,29so that no man may boast before God.30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,).

The wisdom exhibited in “ants” concerns their thinking ahead and their organizational ability to build up a food supply for later (verse 2525The ants are not a strong people,
But they prepare their food in the summer;
). The fact that ants are a people without strength is no excuse for them to be lazy. They know how to survive physically for the future. They are diligently preparing food in the summer, so they have something to eat in the winter.

They teach us to live in a future-oriented way (Pro 6:66Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
). Just as ants gather food for their future needs, so should we read God’s Word as our spiritual food not only for today, but also for the future. Then at some point the Holy Spirit can use from that what is needed.

The rich fool had also gathered many goods for many years, but on earth. He never saw the future years for which he had gathered so much, because for him the future was only the earth (Lk 12:16-2116And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.17And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’18Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.19And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years [to come]; take your ease, eat, drink [and] be merry.”‘20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This [very] night your soul is required of you; and [now] who will own what you have prepared?’21So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”).

We see the wisdom of the “shephanim” (badgers) in their ingenuity to find a place of safety and build their house there (verse 2626The shephanim are not mighty people,
Yet they make their houses in the rocks;
). They know how to survive in a hostile environment (Psa 104:18b18The high mountains are for the wild goats;
The cliffs are a refuge for the shephanim.
). They seek their safety in the rocks. Their condition is extremely weak, but their position is very strong. It teaches us that our sense of weakness and inability must bring us to the rock, which is Christ (1Cor 10:44and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.), to build our house there (Mt 7:24-2524“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and [yet] it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.).

The wisdom of the “locusts” consists in the orderly cooperation among them, which allows them to march on like a massive military division (verse 2727The locusts have no king,
Yet all of them go out in ranks;
). He knows how to organize, he has a remarkable organizational talent. There is spontaneous unity and order. He does not have a king or queen like the bees, “yet all of them go out in ranks”, like a well-organized army. A single locust has no power, you can kill it just like that. But in swarms, locusts are invincible and all devastating (Exo 10:13-1513So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the LORD directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.14The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; [they were] very numerous. There had never been so [many] locusts, nor would there be so [many] again.15For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.; Isa 33:44Your spoil is gathered [as] the caterpillar gathers;
As locusts rushing about men rush about on it.
; Joel 2:2525“Then I will make up to you for the years
That the swarming locust has eaten,
The creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,
My great army which I sent among you.
; Rev 9:1-111Then the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven which had fallen to the earth; and the key of the bottomless pit was given to him.2He opened the bottomless pit, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke of the pit.3Then out of the smoke came locusts upon the earth, and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.4They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.5And they were not permitted to kill anyone, but to torment for five months; and their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a man.6And in those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, and death flees from them.7The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men.8They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like [the teeth] of lions.9They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.10They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months.11They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.).

God has put that moving up together into them. The lesson for us is that the feeling of weakness must keep us as members of the church together and that we must strengthen each other. We can experience this in a local church if the invisible Person, the Holy Spirit, can govern it. This was the case with the Colossians. Paul could say to them: “For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ” (Col 2:55For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.). Are there any local churches to which he can say this today?

The wisdom of the lizard is its ability to even enter the palaces of kings (verse 2828The lizard you may grasp with the hands,
Yet it is in kings’ palaces.
). The weak, defenseless lizard, who can be grasped easily, knows how to get into the most secure, but also the most important, homes, such as “the king’s palaces”.

Numerous Christians have been seized and killed in the course of church history without defending themselves, but they have a home with God. Those who are weak may know that they have a prominent and secure place in Christ. Believers have royal dignity and are “fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Eph 2:1919So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,). With the suction pads on its feet, the lizard can move on the smoothest surfaces. He sticks, as it were, to it. In this way faith may attach itself to the dwelling place of God.


Four with a Stately March

29There are three things which are stately in [their] march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
30The lion [which] is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
31The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king [when his] army is with him.

To prevent us to belief that the small things in the previous verses are always better than the big things, Agur gives four illustrations of stately creatures. They are all leaders (verse 2929There are three things which are stately in [their] march,
Even four which are stately when they walk:
). The contrast with the previous four is clear. They are not powerless beings with whom you can do whatever you want, but they impress. They possess leadership qualities. The way they move has something majestic. They are “stately in [their] march” and “stately when they walk”. First we get three examples from the animal world. They form the run-up to the fourth, the king who has warriors with him, which increases the impression of his majesty.

The first animal with a royal appearance is the lion, which is mighty among the animals (verse 3030The lion [which] is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
). “And does not retreat before any.” On the contrary, everyone avoids him and gives him free rein. His way of moving incites awe. It radiates power. He will not accelerate his walk to flee, because he does not fear anyone. By his power and majesty, he illustrates Christ, “the ruler of the kings of the earth”, “the Lion from the tribe of Judah” (Rev 1:55and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—; 5:55and one of the elders *said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.”).

We also see in “the strutting rooster” (verse 3131The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king [when his] army is with him.
) a royal radiation when he parades among the chickens. We find something of it in the Dutch proverb ‘he is the rooster in the hen house’ (= he wins the victory). The rooster crows when the sun rises, at the beginning of a new day. It is a sign of a new beginning. We see this at Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus. When the rooster crowed, he was as it were awakened and repented of what he had done (Mt 26:7575And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.). That was the beginning of the way back.

We can therefore see the rooster as a symbol of the announcement of the coming of the King. Christ will appear in majesty as Judge to judge the world and establish His kingdom of peace.

The walk of “a male goat” is also stately. With his head up, he walks proudly in front of the herd (Jer 50:88“Wander away from the midst of Babylon
And go forth from the land of the Chaldeans;
Be also like male goats at the head of the flock.
), he is at the head of it. The male goat is the animal par excellence that was used as a sin offering. It reminds us of the Lord Jesus Who went to Jerusalem with royal dignity to die as the sin offering. He intended to go that way and do that work, and no one could stop him in it (Lk 9:5151When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem;). That work is the basis for His return to earth, for through that work He has regained the right to creation.

Christ comes back to earth as “a king [when his] army is with him”. A king with his army makes a great impression. Nobody dares to resist him and nobody can withstand him. This will happen when Christ returns as King with His whole army (Rev 19:11-2111And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it [is] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.12His eyes [are] a flame of fire, and on His head [are] many diadems; and He has a name written [on Him] which no one knows except Himself.13[He is] clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.14And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white [and] clean, were following Him on white horses.15From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.16And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God,18so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.20And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.21And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.). It is the people whom He has sanctified for Himself and for whom He has brought the sacrifice. That people may reign with Him.


Pressing Produces Something

32If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted [evil, put your] hand on your mouth.
33For the churning of milk produces butter,
And pressing the nose brings forth blood;
So the churning of anger produces strife.

Agur does not end with the dignity that has been presented in the previous verses. That would have been a beautiful ending. But he ends with a warning that is a last call to humility (verses 32-3332If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted [evil, put your] hand on your mouth.
33For the churning of milk produces butter,
And pressing the nose brings forth blood;
So the churning of anger produces strife.
). The examples in verses 30-3130The lion [which] is mighty among beasts
And does not retreat before any,
31The strutting rooster, the male goat also,
And a king [when his] army is with him.
are about leaders. A fool can draw a wrong lesson from this and presume to be that and exalt himself (verse 3232If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted [evil, put your] hand on your mouth.
). Therefore, the warning sounds against pride in the heart (“exalt”) and bad thoughts (“plotted”).

Let him in whom this is found quickly realize that this is folly, and let him not express his proud thoughts (verse 3232If you have been foolish in exalting yourself
Or if you have plotted [evil, put your] hand on your mouth.
). So, put your “hand on your mouth” (cf. Job 40:4-54“Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You?
I lay my hand on my mouth.
5“Once I have spoken, and I will not answer;
Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”
). With Job it is his hand on his mouth before God. With Agur it is his hand on his mouth in mutual relationship. It is bad to think bad, it is even worse to pronounce that bad thing. When the latter happens, people give in to the bad thought and others are influenced by it.

Exalting oneself and plotting is not yet the act. Yet Agur says that when pride and bad thoughts are present, this means that someone is acting foolishly. Thoughts are equated to deeds. The Lord Jesus confirms it. He says that if anyone “looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:2828but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.). Therefore not only wrong deeds should be condemned and confessed, but also bad motives and thoughts.

Verse 3333For the churning of milk produces butter,
And pressing the nose brings forth blood;
So the churning of anger produces strife.
presents three equations of what the result is if the hand is not put on the mouth. We see it in the word “for” with which the verse begins. If he continues to carry out his arrogant thoughts, he only causes disagreement. In his moderate leadership, he puts pressure on others. Pressing on something has an effect.

When pressure is put on milk, when it is stirred vigorously, butter is produced. The original healthy drink is no longer drinkable. If pressure is applied to the nose, if someone gets a blow on his nose, blood comes out of the nose. The original function of the nose to absorb odors, is switched off. On the contrary, blood loss occurs. The last example of pressure is what it is all about. Someone can be put under such pressure that he becomes angry and subsequently quarrels arise.

The examples illustrate the purpose of this concluding advice. Agur encourages us to strive for peace and harmony through a spirit of humility and righteousness. He ends his proverbs with the same thought he began with.


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