October 10th 2018 – Proverbs 30:1-4

The words of Agur son of Jakeh. The oracle.

The man declares, I am weary, O God;
    I am weary, O God, and worn out.
Surely I am too stupid to be a man.
    I have not the understanding of a man.
I have not learned wisdom,
    nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has ascended to heaven and come down?
    Who has gathered the wind in his fists?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment?
    Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name?
    Surely you know!

Proverbs 30:1-4

There is more than an element of mystery as to the identity of Agur (1), whose sayings are recorded in this chapter. The words 'even the prophecy' in AV are taken by the RSV as a proper name: 'Agar, son of Jakeh of Massa'. The AV more accurately reflects the Hebrew original, and the phrase may be taken to emphasise the authority of what follows. Also, the words 'Ithiel and Ucal' are rendered in the AV margin as 'I have wearied myself, 0 God, and am consumed', and these words introduce the verses that follow very appropriately, for in them the writer expresses his sense of nothingness in face of the mystery of life (2-4). One does not have to read very far to hear echoes of Job. The atmosphere of the chapter, and the attitude that underlies it, is very reminiscent of the later chapters of Job (e.g. 38ff) and seem to bespeak the same kind of revelation of God that the patriarch had. At all events, the sense of the vastness and mysteriousness of life is present, and the consciousness of how little he knows in face of that mystery (cf also Psalm 139). It is this that imparts such a quality of humility to the writer. The revelation of God cuts a man down to size, and inculcates a fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom. Ultimately (4), there are questions that are answered only by the revelation of God in Christ, in the New Testament, in His descent (Incarnation) and ascension and exaltation - and coming again (cf John 3:13, Ephesians 4:9, 10).