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No. 10: Advice From a Sojourner, Part 4

BIBLICAL Horizons, No. 10
February, 1990
Copyright 1990, Biblical Horizons

7. Two things I asked of Thee, Do not refuse me before I die: 8. Keep deception and words of falsehood far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches, Feed me with the food that it my portion, 9. Lest I be full and deny Thee, And say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God

In Proverbs 30:7-9 we find the prayer of a humble man. Verse 7 hints that the Sojourner (Agur, possibly Jacob) is an elderly man, when it says, "Do not refuse me before I die." Possibly, though, this simply means that the Sojourner wants to be able to look back over his life on his deathbed, and not be ashamed.

The first thing Agur asks for is that "deception or vanity, and words of falsehood" be kept from him. If we were a bit more self-confident, we might ask God to give us a discerning spirit so that we might recognize and renounce deceptions when we see them. Humble Agur, however, does not have so much self-confidence. He prays, "Lead me not into temptation; put me not to the test, lest I fail Thee."

The deception and words of falsehood might be sheer lies told by crafty persons. Jacob certainly encountered this with Laban, and having seen how much evil resulted, might easily have composed this prayer. The word for "deception" also implies vanity or emptiness, and thus this phrase can also refer to the deceptive and false words of vain philosophy and idolatry. It is not just personal lies we have to deal with and be protected from, but also the big lies of liberal religion, secular philosophy, Baalistic evangelicalism, and the like. If we take Agur’s advice seriously, we will take Christian education seriously.

As we saw last time (chapter 3), the way to be preserved from lies and from lying philosophy is found in verses 5 and 6: total commitment to the written Word of God.

Jacob might also have prayed that God would give him neither poverty nor riches. He had grown up with greedy Esau, and had seen the destructive effects of the lust for wealth in the house of Laban, who changed his wages repeatedly. He had personally known oppression and poverty, especially in his early years under Laban, and he had personally known great wealth in his later years. Jacob, thus, was intimately familiar with the temptations that come at both extremes.

Again, if we had a little self-confidence, we might pray, "God, give me riches, and give me the wisdom to know how to use it." But this is not the Sojourner’s prayer. He wants to have a moderate amount of money. Why? Because he is afraid of himself. The humble man is a man who is afraid of himself. We need to be afraid of ourselves, and we need to be afraid of what we might do if God removed the restraints.