Proverbs 30 : 1 – 3 Verse by Verse Bible Teaching
Proverbs 30:1-3 New King James Version (NKJV)*
- The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, his utterance. This man declared to Ithiel—to Ithiel and Ucal:
- Surely I am more stupid than any man, And do not have the understanding of a man.
- I neither learned wisdom, Nor have knowledge of the Holy One.
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Transcript of Proverbs 30 : 1 – 3
Welcome to Calvary Chapel, Newcastle, verse by verse study of the Book of Proverbs. For previous studies from the Book of Proverbs, go to our series on Proverbs at www.ccn.org.au/proverbs
Join us now for this week’s message from Pastor Terry Martin’s as he teaches from Proverbs. All right, Sunday night. Welcome. We’ve been looking at the Book of Proverbs.
We’re going verse by verse through the Book of Proverbs, and today we’re in Chapter 30. So, if you’re not there, please turn to the first 5 verses. It’s a message that I’ve titled Spiritual Forensics, I don’t always have titles for my sermons because I do go verse by verse, and sometimes it’s just a matter of looking at the verse. But we’re doing something a little bit different today, not in the sense that we’re abandoning our verse by verse study, but we’re looking at an individual, a guy by the name of Agur, and last week we finished with the very last verse of Solomon.
So, we’re not looking at Solomon’s proverbs today. We’re looking at a guy by the name of Agur’s proverbs, and we’re going to be looking at who he is, so I’ve said Spiritual Forensics, finding out the truth, slash the character of an unknown man. It’s a long title, but I think it’s appropriate again. We’re going to be looking at hopefully verses 1 through 5 in Chapter 30, looking specifically at who this guy by the name of Agur, is. Well, let’s find out by getting into verse 1 and on packaging it, which then will lead us to the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth verses and we’ll probably yeah, probably fifth verse will look at briefly but more next week.
Verse 1, The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, his utterance. This man declared to Ithiel, Ithiel, and Ucal:” or however you pronounce those Hebrew names with the Hebrew accent and tongue. I’m not sure really what we know about Agur that we don’t know much about him at all. He’s relatively unknown, except for the fact that he was the son of a guy named Jakeh, who we don’t know about either. So, finding out about him doesn’t really seem to be the important thing in the issue here, hat God has for us, other than the fact that I think we can unpackaged the reality that he was humble, he was an observant man and he was inquisitive, especially when you get into chapter 30 versus 6 through 33 was had a profound mind, and he had the ability to observe life around him.
I think that’s something for me to understand and to ponder and to meditate upon, not just to be so self-centred in my own world but to observe life in general and how it functions within society. His words were addressed to two individuals. Ithiel, and Ucal, however you want to pronounce it again, whose identities are also unknown. So, we’re looking at four people in Scripture who we don’t really know about. Yet Hezekiah’s men, who collected all of the proverbs of Solomon, also decided to take the collection of wisdom from this particular individual.
And then as we get into Chapter 30 and we look specifically at women and I hope you can come to that study because it is important for you women and for you men to understand what a good and godly character looks like. Industrias. You know, someone that is really about the business of society and about the home, and about honouring and serving the Lord. So, if you can’t make it, listen online. It’s on you to do so because you women are without excuse, as you men are without excuse when it comes to the instruction of Scripture, especially if you claim Christ and you want to honour him with your life. So, he’s addressed three people outside of himself.
We’ve got Hezekiah collecting all of the proverbs of Solomon, these two people and chapters 30 and 31, 200 years after the fact that they were written Hezekiah made a commission, he said. I want you guys to collect the wisdom and the literature of the Hebrew men, specifically starting from Solomon. They add the words of Agur, and we have no other mention of him at all throughout Scripture. Now some people think that Agur is another name for Solomon. This is just out of particular commentary that I read. Ross says that Jewish midrash, which is an ancient commentary of the Old Testament of search this, but it’s highly unlikely. Why? Well, Clark sites this from this introduction from the names here used and from the style of the book. It appears evident that Solomon was not the author of this chapter and that it was designed to be distinguished from his work by the very preface, which specifically distinguishes it from the proceeding work.
I believe that these four men, they were really people who did exist, but of whom we know nothing, but what has mentioned here. Agur seems to have been a public teacher, and the others seem to have been his scholars a love what Bridges another commentator had to say on these particular individuals, he says. Nothing definite is known about these writers, and it’s vain to speculate where God is silent. It’s much better to give our full attention to the teaching doing to indulge in the unprofitable speculation about the writers here. I think that I agree completely with that moving on from them. I think it’s important that we also look at the two words that refer to his utterance.
His utterance, what’s he saying, now we do, or we don’t know who these guys are. Certainly, the contemporaries of these men would have known who they were. We don’t, but what’s important is what they said, Okay, it’s kind of like what was said of Solomon and Proverbs 2 : 6 . If you want to reference your Bibles, you can. That this is a sense of a prophetic word, not prophetic in the sense of flaky or undetermined or unsubstantiated, but prophetic in the sense that these men knew that this was an oracle of God, that it was as Scripture. Even as Peter recognises the writings of Paul, what did you say about them? Was he a flaky profit on TV, kind of handing out gold dust and miracles? No far be it from Paul, and he would behave that way. In fact, he denounced that kind of behaviour, calling it basically cultic. But what Peter says is that what Paul is writing?
I’ve read everything that Peter is saying or what Paul is saying, and it is bang on. It is spot on, and everything that he has written collaborates with everything that the old Covenant said with the other apostles have testified to, and what the spirit testifies to that this was legitimate prophecy, and I think as we go through the writings of Agur here in Chapter 30 we’re going to see that it’s legitimate, that it’s not flaky, that it pierces the heart. It changes, man. It confronts us to a point where we are recognising that we are either honouring God or not. And I think if you’re sitting here on a hot Sunday afternoon, you’re probably wanting to hear what God has to say on things rather than some guy prancing at the pulpit.
At least when I go to my study, I don’t want to hear what men have to say. I want to hear what God has to say and to expound it and to teach it accurately within the context of the word of God within its closed canyon is important. Canon, rather than canyon it is important. Chapter 30 is filled with observations on life and the natural world. I love what Kidner a commentator had to say concerning this, he says. Agur is one who is inviting us to look again at our world with the eye of a man of faith who is an artist and an observer of character. Poetic but true. Psalms 143 verse 5, says. I muse on the work of thy hands. I muse on the work of thy hands, I think, Agur’s doing exactly that, especially as we unpackaged Chapter 30. He’s a man of musing. He’s a man of contemplation, a man that takes time out of his busy life. And he would have been busy, probably busier than us, because most men that had any kind of voice in that society, where men that were given to husbandry, to the care of livestock. And if you’ve ever cared for cattle and sheep or lambs or livestock in general, you’re either birthing them, or caring for them, or putting them down, or slaughtering them, or preserving the meat that you’ve laid out. Or you’re making sure that the young are looked after, or you’re separating certain animals from other animals. You’re busy and you have staff and your flocks grow.
And so to think that we’re busier than previous generations is a pure arrogance, and yet we go to work and, you know, we meet up with people once a week and we say how are you going? Oh, I’m so busy, you know It’s like it’s just become, you know, basically the precursor to everything that’s said in our conversations, I’m so busy. It’s true. We are busy. But are we busier
than any other society that’s ever lived? Go back to your great grandparents when they used a hand wash every single nappy that was ever produced within their 8 or 15 Children. Think about all the grain that had to be ground by hand so that you could have bread. The men were busy. The women were busy. The kids were busy as soon as they could do anything, the kids were on it because it didn’t have a choice. You just participated. Life was busier than it’s ever been that we become so clever at making things easy for ourselves so that we have more recreation time and so that I actually have time to go online and study a surf trip to Indonesia. It’s a luxury. It’s a luxury.
We’re not busier than previous generations were actually less busy, but we busy ourselves with the luxury of making and creating time. You see now we work 40 hours a week and we think we’re busy, back then, they work from sunup to sundown. Okay, so we have no excuse. And so really, what he’s talking about here is so true, to observe life and to see it in its natural world and then to make certain judgments is a big deal. So be someone that stills the mind and muse. Don’t give up on the lost art of contemplation. Go to the beach, stick your head under the water and look and discover a world that is unique.
We’re fish exist, where there’s sand and rocks, and there’s a whole other ecosystem. Consider the mounds, look at the landscape, fly over a city sometime and contemplate what is going on in that city. Drive into the driveway of another house and think about what’s going on in that home. To think about things outside of our own lives. I think is a lost art, and I encourage you to enter back into it, and allow the Lord to minister to your heart. And I think you would say is the psalmist says in 1 43 I muse on the work of your hands. Oh God, whether it’s on society or in creation, how awesome the hand of God is now after I’ve introduced Agur as someone who we don’t really know.
I think versus 2 through 4 give us a really good understanding of who he was and not what he was. Okay, He’s not mentioned anywhere else. But what I’m interested in your life and I hope you’re interested in my life is not what I do for a living, or the address where I live. But who is Terry Martens? Who am I, and who are you? Because as soon as we look at the latter, we make judgments and we create separations and caste systems, air suddenly created within our minds in our framework of judgement. We’ve created this microcosm of India within our mind where you have the poor caste and the rich caste and don’t cross over. And there we have bigotry. And there we have all kinds of schisms. Judge me for who I am as a person. Not what I do for a living. Get to know me as an individual, get to know you as an individual, get to know others as individuals. I think one of the greatest components of effectiveness in our evangelism as Christians that is sharing our faith with others is to show genuine interest in people who have expressed disfavour in the things of the church, religion and God, to be interested in their life.
To care for people. Ask them what they do for a living. Well you probably know what it is because you worked next to them. Ask them what their interests are. Ask them about, the kids, their family, all of the things that make them tick. And pretty soon they’re going to find themselves enjoying your company and being looking forward to seeing you at work on a Monday morning. And if it wasn’t for you on a Monday morning, there would be pretty sad. The fact that people show interest in someone outside of themselves, I think, is a modern-day phenomenon. I want to show interest in other people. I want people to show interest in my life, and what we see here with Agur is fascinating to me because so many commentaries that I have read on this man exposed absolutely nothing about him, and they’ve failed to see versus 2, 3, 4, and especially verse 5. Let’s take a look at them a little bit closer.
Okay, let’s look at who he was, rather than what he was. I’ll read the text. Then we’ll move forward with it. Surely, I’m more stupid than any man. Don’t be confused, Okay? We will get to it Surely, I’m more stupid than any man and do not have the understanding of a man. I have neither learned wisdom, nor have knowledge of the Holy One. Who is ascended into heaven or descended? Question mark, first question. Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all of the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his Son’s name? If you know it’s as if he’s calling out to me, asking me if I’m willing to ask those same questions because it’s hyper radical. What he’s saying here is what every man should be asking, and every woman should be asking. Who could do the impossible? And if you can answer that, then I will listen, because these are profound questions asked in every generation, every generation wants to know these questions.
Let’s look a little bit closer at them. In verse to we have a profound statement where he says, surely, I’m more stupid than any man and yet it seems that he’s so profound. Why is he referring to himself as stupid? No one that’s an idiot, or stupid, or completely ignorant, or not able to function in the world is even going to have a voice, let alone be literate and have access to parchments and pen and paper. In that day, this man was special. He was profound. Okay, so don’t be confused with what’s being said here. He was switched on. He was topped here. Surely, I’m more stupid than any man and do not have the understanding of a man.
He starts with a confession. That’s what he’s doing because he knows this place. He knows this place where, before God. And he does it so radically and calling himself stupid or ignorant. Really more than any man, really. I mean, certainly there would have been nimbusoles and freaks and weirdoes in his society, just like there are in our society today. I mean, let’s be honest, not everybody’s sharp and some are quite strange. We have to do is hang out on a Friday night in the east end of Newcastle and you just scratch your head and say far out, I didn’t realise there was that much mental health in this city, right? There were those issues in society at that time, as well, okay. There were drugs in that society is well, there was alcohol in that society as well. They were sniffing and scratching and poking at any little plant that would give them a stimulant. Believe you, me. That is how it was, they were not all bright. But this guy I love this guy may have been writing in irony or poetic exaggeration. If so, he was contrasting himself with someone who is arrogantly claiming wisdom.
A person he challenged to answer, verse four. All of those questions we just looked at or the statement in verse 2 maybe Agur’s sincere response to the reflections he records in verse 4. Many previous proverbs teach that humility is an essential aspect of wisdom here with poetic exaggeration, this man Agur declared his own limitations when it comes to understanding and wisdom similar to David. Remember David in Psalm 73 verse 22 when he said, I was like a beast before you Oh God, that was David saying that he was as I’m intellectual as a beast?
No, he was spiritually positioning and positioned his heart to a base posture before God. It’s as if he threw himself prostate before the Lord and the Temple of God saying What was me? Oh, God, I am just a mere man Even though I’m the King of Israel You saw me in the field with all the sheep, the youngest of all of my brothers from an insignificant family. You saw me then and you see me here now, I am just a man and you are Holy God. That’s the same thing that Agur’s doing here. Exactly the same thing. And that’s the posture. I believe we’re called to folks, you know, we come here and we want to study God’s word and rightfully so.
But I also want to be a man that just doesn’t hear the word but listens to it to be ah listener. Not just to hear, because I could study this sermon. I could read the Bible 15 or 20 or 200 times and still have unchanged lifestyles. And God is calling me to be a man of 47 who walks into 57 67 87 as a man who is continually being changed. In my case, there’s a lot of work to be done that we’re can only be done if I have the posture of these men, or maybe even as Job wrote in Chapter 25 1st six, when he references himself as a worm, a worm, stupid, a beast, and a worm from some of the most profound men that have ever lived in Scripture.
Can I a mere nobody living in the city of Newcastle refer to myself with that kind of format? Can you? Can you? Honestly, we need to ask those questions because in all truth, the answer will reveal your humility or your pride. Am I a mere beast, a worm or nobody within society when a reflects upon the greatness of my gracious God? Didn’t Jesus say that unless you become as a little child, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What you talking about there? He’s saying that a child has the unique ability to just function in complete purity and honesty. You know, his kids struggle with lying. Have you noticed that? I know when my kids were really little and they tried to lie, it was written all over their face and then you would just say, Are you sure? And they go.
No, you’re right. No, no, no. It wasn’t that, you know, they’re just so honest. They’re so provoked by another voice to come clean. Am I that way with the voice of the Holy Spirit and I as a child when I sin and I’m provoked and I come clean right there and then or do I bury it like David did for a year? Well, I’ve done both, and I know you’ve done both, but the call is always to come back to our child likeness are simplicity where our personality is not hidden behind our money, or our homes, or cars, or nationalities, or anything that we find value in. But our personalities are exposed to society and God in simpleness with complete clarity, having nothing to hide so that why I think so, that God can use us. And so he continues to shape us.
You see, when we function like a little kid, we let all of our little seat they actually let it all hang out. People are drawn to us, because he doesn’t want to hang out with a kid because they’re easy to hang out where there’s no pretence. And I think before the Lord he goes, there’s a man. There’s a woman in whom there is no deceit, and because of that, there is going to be a legacy and a great treasure and glory for them.
I believe Agur was this kind of man, the wealthy. Though educated, though a man of means. His heart was poor, his heart was impoverished. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall what see
God. There’s something special in the Lord’s heart for the man, whether he be poor or rich or middle class like me, that when my heart is poor before Him, He takes great delight. His questions in verse 4 I believe, are the basis of his radical limitations, especially in the face of a world that thinks too highly of itself, struggle that was contemporary in his day, in a struggle that I know is contemporary today, because I’ve struggled with it. I do struggle with it and will continue to struggle with a desire for mere men. To Look at me and envy me and covet what I have and who I am because I struggle with it. I know you struggle with it. We are men and women of like passions. What is a man with like passion to you?
I can say be careful. Listen to that still small voice. Read the word of God. Let it cleanse you. Let it try you. Let it encourage you when things are right before God. The issue is human arrogance and God wants to remove it from Agur. He wanted to remove it from Abraham. He had to do it through David. He had to do it through all great men and women through out scripture. Why would he stop in this generation? He aint. He’s doing it with you, and you, and you, and you, all of us.
And so he brings up these great these profound questions. Five of them, Who has ascended into heaven or descended? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who’s bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name? And this is profound for the Jewish here. Okay, the back end of this verse cheque this out. We know as being Christians, we know the Messiah has come and we know his name. It’s Jesus Christ or Yeshua, right? The special one, the called one, the Saviour. But check out the back and the verse, or the fifth question. What is his name? They knew his name was Yahweh, or Jehovah, or the I am that I am. And what is his son’s name?
If you know how profound is that? If you ever talking to an Orthodox Jew, bring this up because they’re very scriptures point them to the fact that God Yahweh, has a son, the second person in the Trinity and that is Jesus Christ, and the time in which he came was during the time of the Caesars. Biblical history. And it can open up a tremendous conversation with them, leading them to their Saviour. Fantastic if you have that opportunity. I hope it happens for you. Look at these questions in a moment, but before we go into verse 4, we’re gonna look at verse 3, right. I have about seven minutes in verse 3. I neither learned wisdom, Agur says, nor have knowledge of the Holy One. Let’s look at verse 3a, I neither learned wisdom. I might not have been taught in the Bible College, or the seminary’s of the Sons and the Prophets, but must own myself to be an unlearned man, a prophet, similar to Amos.
I mean, I don’t if you know much about the Old Testament Prophets. But Amos was hit was a gem. Amos was just a farmer in the field in an insignificant place. The Lord called him and the Lord calls him. And what’s his response is like Lord, I’m a farmer, you know. I work with oxen and a plough, and I just I just break up the land and I sow it and I scatter, and that’s all I know. And the Lord says, wait a minute, Amos. I like to take people who are insignificant in the world and do significant things with, um, can you raise your hand to that. I know I can, and I know you can as well.
Spurgeon writes philosophy had failed him, and revelation was the sole or his sole confidence, interesting insight. It’s about revelation, and we have the word of God we haven’t revealed to us, and it’s been protected for us.
And in verse 3b. Nor have I knowledge of the Holy One, again he was careful not to boast about his spiritual knowledge because I believe he had it. I believe he had a man or he had the access to the rabbinical writings. Again, I’m speculating, but to be able to be educated enough to write and to read, to be in a posture of privilege would have given him opportunities. I think his lesson comes with some serious humility and sobriety, and it’s not from a position of superiority at all. Wolke notes this in his commentary.
Earthbound mortals cannot find transcendent wisdom. Apart from the transcendent Lord. Real wisdom must be found or must find its starting point in God’s revelation. In his light, we see light, in other places in Scripture spiritual things are spiritually discerned. If someone comes up to you and says, I’ve have a spiritual revelation of something or have something from the voice of God. You can spiritually discern it. How?
By the objective word of God or the objective truth. Okay, spiritual things, are spiritually discerned. Now, if someone says, Oh, well, that’s just old fashioned the word of God. Well, are you telling me then that the word of God is not spiritual? At that point, if they hum and ah on it, you raised the flag of heresy or false prophets or whatever it is you have to do in your mind to get away from that individual, because they are in error again. I believe he is saying that I haven’t been to the most educated of Bible schools, possibly. Maybe he’s bringing this argument before the council. Maybe he’s talking about it in some sort of a gathering or collection of students. We don’t know some kind of a Bible College, but I am truly limited in my knowledge of God because the Lord has revealed truth to me.
Now listen up. I can imagine him saying it this way, okay. I wrote this down this afternoon. I’m going to ask you five questions in his mind, he’s saying this. Okay, maybe it’s to a student’s. Maybe it’s to his family. We don’t know. I’m gonna ask you five questions and with only one correct answer and that is God. That’s the only answer to these questions. God, after that, I’m going to drop some serious intel, some serious revelation or some serious insight. He was a man of diplomacy, and we can all learn from it. What do you mean, he was a man of diplomacy? Well, he had the ability to enter into, a conversation with the elites of society, bring himself down rather than talk himself up.
You notice how many people talk themselves up? See it all the time. It doesn’t matter what culture is in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia. You get into a collection of 10 people at a Christmas party and there’s always a least one or two or three people talking themselves up. And I think you get the true characters in that group who just quietly listen long enough to make clear understandings of who is there. And then when those people pipe up and say something, it’s profound, and they’re not honking their own horns, and it’s those people that enter into leadership in big companies. It’s those kind of people that are promoted. It’s those kind of people have become the pillars within society, not the people who are talking themselves up, because to do so is arrogance. It’s wrong itself asserting, the world tells us that we need to do it. But I believe in the heart of man.
We want to see a humble heart. We want to see someone. There is able to be faithful. We want to see someone that is able to have his house in order. We want to be able to see someone who is able to come to work every week, month after month, year after a year, and lay down. You see, some people talk that they have game and other people just have it. It’s those that have it 10 years down the road, 20 years down the road, 30 years down the road, have an established legacy within society, and I believe eternally, just live long enough and you’ll see it’s the way it works out. It happens in every generation, in every culture.
He begins with one question. And it’s in verse 4, but I am out of time. So I’ve got to shut it down.
Lord, it’s been intriguing, to look at this man, Agur. You know, we’ve spent literally 90 plus sermons studying the words of Solomon, who was wise but lacked prudence, and to come now to the end of proverbs. And to see wisdom couple together with prudence is so refreshing to see someone who knows what he ought to do and does it.
You know, Solomon, He was the kind of man that knew what to say. It was truthful but then was exposed by his Children and the legacy that was left in his two sons that divided the kingdom. And I look forward to finding out what happened with the sons of Agur with the daughters of Agur. Lord those are the kind of men that I want to be. I want to be like a man, like a girl. I want us women in here to be women. Like the woman who writes in Chapter 31, Lord, I think there’s more in chapters 30 and 31 then possibly within the 1st 29 chapters of Proverbs. And with that said, God, we say, thank you for preserving the wisdom.
Now, Lord, use it to shape us into the men and women. You really, really having your heart for us to be. So the years air lived out in complete humility. Before you and man help us to let go of the honking horn, help us to let go of that which might impress our neighbour or a relative. Help us to let go of the competition thing. Help us to let go of that which so easily and tangles us and puts our mind set in a place of unimportant things. Help us to be satisfied in the things of God the things that are eternal, caring, and nurturing. The people of God being a clear representation of what it looks like to be a Christian in a dark space. Lord, that our faith would be genuine, that our religion would be profound and you alone would be the great delight of our soul.
And we pray this in Jesus name, Amen.
* Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.