Read: Proverbs 30:1-9
Consider: Today’s reading from Proverbs 30 is attributed to Agur, son of Jakeh. As Agur is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, we do not know who the writer is. Some scholars speculate that Agur might be Solomon. I don’t think it really matters whether or not we know the identity of the writer, what matters is the content of what is written and how it can give us insight into the character of God, as well as into the character of humanity.
The writer’s opinion of himself in Proverbs 30:2-4 is that of someone who knows their limitations. However, while he says: I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained the knowledge of the Holy One (30:3), this does not mean that the writer is uneducated. Rather it means that he is very aware of the limitations of the knowledge he does possess. In life I have met many people who are very well-educated, yet they understand how much they do not know. The writer addresses God in these verses and while the author cannot answer the questions posed, he realises that God knows the answer to all of life’s questions. He can honestly say: Surely you know! (30:4).
Notice what the writer asks God for: ‘… give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread’ (30:8). On first reading this may seem the wrong thing to ask God for. The writer demonstrates his true wisdom as he knows the possible effects of riches and poverty on humanity. He can say: Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or I may become poor and steal, and also dishonour the name of God (30:9). If you look around the world you will see many people who crave riches, believing it will bring satisfaction, contentment and happiness with it. Yet we see many rich people who are unhappy and discontented. Poverty, on the other hand brings with it its own dangers. It may lead a person to covet what others have, or may result in them stealing so as to satisfy their needs and the needs of their families. The writer of Proverbs 30 sees the dangers of both riches and poverty; potentially either can take the individual away from God.
Look with me at what is said in Proverbs 30:5 – Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. This reminds me of Ephesians 6:10-17, where Paul describes the ‘armour of God’ that the believer should put on. In Ephesians 6:16 Paul speaks of the need to: ‘… take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one’. The writer of Proverbs and Paul are both using the word ‘shield’ in the same way: as a protection for the individual. As our shield, God is our protector.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-11).
Pray: Father, we thank you that you are our shield and protector, keeping us safe from the devil’s onslaught. May we develop a spirit of contentment, that is dependent upon having sufficient to meet our needs and not our wants. Amen