June 13, 2020
Daybreak: Proverbs 30:1-33
“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
One day in December of 1875, Ira Sankey, song leader for evangelist D. L. Moody, was traveling on a steamboat when some of the passengers recognized him and asked him to sing. Although they asked him to sing one of his own compositions, he chose instead William Bradbury’s well-known hymn “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us.”
One of the stanzas of the song began, “We are Thine; do Thou befriend us. Be the Guardian of our way.” When he finished, a man stepped to his side and asked him, “Did you ever serve in the Union Army?” Mr. Sankey replied that he had. The man then inquired if he had been doing picket duty at a certain location on a night in 1862, and Mr. Sankey replied with surprise that he had. The man proceeded to tell him this amazing account.
“I was on patrol for the Confederate army that night. When I saw you standing at your post, I thought to myself, That fellow will never get away alive. I was standing in the shadow, completely concealed, while the full light of the moon was on you. I raised my musket and took aim, but at that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised your eyes to Heaven and began to sing. ‘Let him sing his song to the end,’ I said to myself, ‘I can shoot him afterwards. He’s my victim at all events, and my bullet cannot miss him.’
“The song you sang then was the song you sang just now. I heard the words perfectly: ‘We are Thine; do Thou befriend us. Be the Guardian of our way.’ Those words stirred up memories. I began to think of my childhood and my God-fearing mother, who had many times sung that song to me. When you had finished your song, it was impossible for me to take aim again. I thought, The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty. And my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side.”
What a beautiful illustration of the truth contained in our key verse — that God is a shield to them who put their trust in Him. While we may not always be preserved from physical harm as Mr. Sankey was, God always provides a spiritual shield of protection from Satan’s attacks. By putting our trust in Him, we will always experience deliverance.
There may come a time, when in the face of uncertainty or danger, we will need to simply make a decision to place our trust in God regardless of the unknowns. God is faithful. When we put our trust unconditionally in Him, we can count on Him to be our Shield from the attempts of Satan.
This chapter contains the words of Agur. Since his name does not appear in any other Jewish literature, nothing is known about him except that he was a wise teacher. Some believe he may have been a profoundly wise person from a country other than Israel.
Some commentators suggest that Ithiel and Ucal, mentioned in verse 1, were proper names, perhaps identifying favorite pupils of Agur. Others assume they are Hebrew words pointing to Agur’s search to know God. They could be translated as, “I have wearied myself, O God, and come to an end.”
In verses 2-3, the author humbly acknowledged his lack of understanding concerning God’s ways; verse 4 continues his thought by emphasizing God’s sovereignty compared to man’s limitations. In verse 5, Agur stressed that man’s inadequacy can be surmounted by trusting in God’s sovereign Word. Verse 6 warns against supplementing God’s words.
In verses 7-9, Agur requested that God protect him from pointlessness and untruths, and that he would be allotted only that which permitted him to maintain his integrity.
Verses 10-33 offer a series of numerical proverbs — a style of Hebraic poetry which uses numerical sequences to aid in memorization and emphasize truths. In this section, each couplet gives four examples to support the author’s premise.
Verses 11-14 list four types of reprehensible transgressors: rebellious children, the self-righteous, the scornful, and cruel oppressors.
Verses 15-16 compare the horseleach (a bloodsucking parasite), with four insatiable entities: the grave, the barren womb, the dry earth, and fire.
Verses 18-19 associate four phenomena — the eagle gliding through the air, the snake slithering on a rock, a ship navigating the high seas, and a man’s enticement of a maid — with the incomprehensible way of an adulterous woman who fails to see the error of her ways (verse 20).
Verses 21-23 identify four unbearable types of people: a servant who has become a ruler, a fool who has acquired wealth, an unloved, rejected spinster who has obtained a husband, and a female servant who has supplanted her mistress.
Verses 24-28 describe four creatures which, although small in size, offer instruction for wise living: the ants that prepare and labor to provide for their future needs, the conies (or badgers) that hide in small crevices to protect themselves, the locusts that exemplify organization, and the spiders (or lizards) that resourcefully increase their quality of life.
In verses 29-31, the author cited four examples of boldness and power: the valor of the undaunted lion, the resoluteness of the greyhound (literally meaning “girt in the loins” and also translated as “rooster” or “war horse”), the mountain goat’s conquest of higher elevations, and the king’s triumph over his foes.
In verses 32-33, the author exhorted his hearers to acknowledge and repent of prideful conduct. He observed that just as churning milk produces butter, and wringing the nose causes bleeding, stirring up anger creates dissension and strife.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The sayings of the way of wisdom
D. The words of Agur (30:1-33)
1. His personal reflections (30:1-9)
a. Introduction (30:1-4)
b. Exhortation to reliance on divine revelation (30:5-6)
c. Requests (30:7-9)
2. His proverbs (30:10-33)
a. Concerning slandering a slave (30:10)
b. Concerning four kinds of wicked persons (30:11-14)
c. Concerning four insatiable things (30:15-17)
d. Concerning four wonderful things (30:18-20)
e. Concerning four intolerable things (30:21-23)
f. Concerning four little things (30:24-28)
g. Concerning four stately things (30:29-31)
h. Concerning restraint (30:32-33)
A Closer Look
- What four living creatures does Agur say are small but wise?
- Verses 11-14 refer to a generation that is proud and unjust. In what ways might these characteristics be evidenced?
- Name some ways in which we might be shielded by putting our trust in God.
Do you feel like you need a shield in your life? Put your trust fully in God. He has promised to protect us from the enemy of our souls, and He will!