If you have been foolish, exalting yourself,
or if you have been devising evil,
put your hand on your mouth. Proverbs 30:32 ESV
We are continuing our study in the discourse given by the mysterious man identified by the name of Agur. Previously, we considered Agur’s main concern as he stared death in the mirror: the knowledge of God. In our text for this Sunday, he carries on his speech in an observational tone about things on earth. Agur seems to be analyzing creatures, situations, and human behaviors that boggle his mind. His curiosity and use of metaphor parallel the style of Ecclesiastes, which is one reason some commentators think Agur is another name for Solomon.
Whatever the case, verses 10-33 teach us about contrasts. These examples of contrasts fall in line with the overarching contrast of the entire chapter: God and man. God is wisdom and man, in his natural state, is foolish. These observations capture some of that foolishness, compare it with the way things ought to be, and hope to redirect man’s course for foolishness to wisdom.
The contrasts in verses 11-16 can be summarized as greed versus contentment. God is totally content whereas man is indulgent: “The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, ‘Enough.’” Agur saw this played out in a greedy generation of children and we are tragically seeing the same thing today.
Agur also highlights the good kind of contrasts, such as the “four things that are exceedingly small, but they are exceedingly wise” in verses 24-28. Here, we’re reminded of how God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. In man’s attempt to buy wisdom, he winds up looking like a fool and stumbling over himself. However, as man humbles himself before God Almighty, he will find wisdom. What a contrast!
At the end of the day, Agur’s frustration is that man seems to upset the divine order. Indeed, man does with sin. The solution, according to Agur, seems to fall short, however. He proposes that man simply stop his foolishness. Such ceasing of sin cannot happen without the work of the Spirit, as God draws foolish sinners to Christ, the True Wise Son.