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Proverbs 30-31 Listen
Who is Agur? (Proverbs 30)
1 The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,
2 Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man.
3 I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.
4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?
5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:
8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
10 Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.
11 There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother.
12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.
13 There is a generation, O how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.
14 There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men.
15 The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, give. There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four things say not, It is enough:
16 The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.
17 The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.
18 There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:
19 The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.
20 Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness.
21 For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear:
22 For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;
23 For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.
24 There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise:
25 The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;
26 The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;
27 The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands;
28 The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.
29 There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going:
30 A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any;
31 A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.
32 If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.
33 Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.
A lot of speculation from Bible scholars over the centuries has failed to satisfactorily identify who the author of Proverbs 30 really is. There is no cross reference to Agur. The style of this chapter differs significantly from the other proverbs written by Solomon. Moreover, the admission of verse 3 is not one you would expect from Solomon, "I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy." The author demonstrates a very high regard for scripture in verses 5-6, "Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." He reflects on the woes of the current generation of his day in verses 11-12, "There is a generation that curseth their father, and doth not bless their mother. There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness." That could have been written by anyone today who simply watches television news for a week.
The rest of the chapter is interesting reading as the author provides us with a series of lists:
And finally, if you're not looking for trouble, you had better watch your mouth as we see in verses 32-33, "If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth. Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife."
1 The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
2 What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?
3 Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:
5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
7 Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
8 Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
The following is taken from the Expositor's Bible Commentary:
"Jewish legend identifies Lemuel as Solomon and the advice as from Bathsheba from a time when Solomon indulged in magic with his Egyptian wife and delayed the morning sacrifices. But there is no evidence for this." There is no positive identification that Lemuel is Solomon, but it is generally thought to be so.
A very industrious woman is described here. The family support structure she offers is exceptional, and she is a business woman to boot. It is no wonder that it is said of her in verse 28, "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."
If this chapter was written by Solomon, then the mother speaking here would be Bathsheba. If that's so, then everything fits together nicely from what we know about Solomon's life. In verse 3 she had warned him, "Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings." He certainly should have heeded that one! You will recall from I Kings 11 (see notes) that it was Solomon's women who had an evil impact upon him. I Kings 11:4 says of Solomon, "...his wives turned away his heart after other gods." And then we see in I Kings 11:6, "And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father." It was all because of the bad choices Solomon had made with regard to the selection of the women he had taken as wives.
Assuming that Lemuel and Solomon are one in the same, that gives chapter 31 a lot of perspective, especially in light of Solomon's declaration in Ecclesiastes 7:28 (see notes) that he could not find one wise woman out of 1,000 (and he had 1,000 women). Let's face it; Solomon had women problems like nobody you have ever met. In light of that fact, it just seems likely that Proverbs 31 would have been a prophecy by Bathsheba and recalled by Solomon nearing the end of his life. He probably thought, "I should have listened to my mama." And that virtuous woman of Proverbs 31? Well...he must have never found her in light of his declaration to that end in Ecclesiastes 7:28. My question is this, "How could you not find a virtuous, wise woman out of 1,000 candidates?" Wait! I have another question: Is he suggesting that only his mama fit the bill? I think it should be pointed out here that nowhere is it recorded that Solomon ever married a Jewish woman. May I suggest that it is just possible that Solomon, in 1000 attempts, never actually SOUGHT a VIRTUOUS woman.